Recent years have seen dramatic shifts in how businesses deploy and use technology. From the remote work revolution catalysed by the covid pandemic, to the accelerated transition to the cloud, new platforms and technologies have spearheaded profound changes, many of which look set to continue in the years ahead.
Staying competitive, resilient and agile in our digital age means harnessing the latest technologies to strategic effect. This requires businesses to keep up with the latest trends in the technology world, and prudently invest in the solutions that provide the greatest strategic benefits.
To help you steer a course to a successful digital future, here are 6 business tech trends to look out for in 2024.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Robotic process automation (RPA) involves using software robots to carry out routine, rule-based tasks that form part of complex business processes. RPA tools can be applied to mundane, time-consuming processes such as data entry, invoice processing and form filling, freeing up staff to focus on activities that require human ingenuity and creativity.
A key benefit of RPA tools is their ability to integrate with existing systems and applications. This allows businesses to implement impactful efficiency savings without having to undertake costly, wholesale IT upgrades.
A reduction in human error is another advantage of RPA. This can help businesses deliver consistently good outcomes to their customers, and ensure that regulatory rules and guidelines are rigorously enforced to maintain compliance.
By freeing up staff to focus on more strategic endeavours, streamlining time-consuming manual processes, and eliminating human error, RPA can help businesses save money, and offers an excellent return on investment.
Generative AI has garnered more attention than any other technology this year, but what is it, and how will it shake up the business world in 2024?
Unlike traditional AI models, which rely largely on predefined rules, generative AI models can generate content autonomously based on simple user prompts. From text to music, artwork to video, generative AI has produced impressive results so far across various fields of content production, and it looks set to have a profound impact on workplace productivity in the year ahead.
In marketing and advertising, generative AI can assist in the production of content, including text, images, video and music. This allows staff to focus on strategic activities, and enhances the creativity of advertising and content campaigns.
In customer service, generative AI can analyse data from previous customer interactions, and use this to deliver tailored recommendations, personalised offers, and content that is likely to offer greater appeal on an individual basis. This form of AI can also be applied to support a user-curated web experience, with website navigation and content adapted to user preferences and behaviours.
Customer support provision also stands to benefit from the rise in generative AI, thanks to virtual assistants and chatbots that understand natural language queries, and are able to provide contextualised responses to complex requests. This can create a smoother, more consistent customer support experience that improves service satisfaction outcomes.
Renewed Focus on Cybersecurity
The cybersecurity landscape has taken a dark turn in recent years, with threat actors enhancing their capabilities, resulting in more sophisticated and damaging attack campaigns. Phishing attacks continue to grow as a threat vector, and cybersecurity analysts have noted a meteoric rise in several malware-based threats, particularly ransomware.
In 2024, cybersecurity is set to become a leading strategic priority for many businesses. Organizations should adopt a zero-trust approach, incorporating principles such as least privilege, strict user authentication, and a hyper-vigilant stance on threat detection. This approach aims to validate requests and effectively mitigate cyber threats on a holistic, whole-system basis.
We’re also likely to see a greater focus on cyber risk assessment activities, such as vulnerability scanning and penetration testing, as businesses seek to take targeted steps to enhance their security postures. Next generation security platforms, including XDR (extended detection and response) and IDPS (intrusion detection and prevention systems) are also likely to rise in prominence, as organisations look to upgrade legacy security infrastructure in favour of AI-driven, modern alternatives.
We’ve already mentioned the anticipated growth in generative AI, but experts also predict a continued rise in AI-driven automation more generally.
With the promise of enhanced business outcomes and widespread efficiency savings, 2024 will see greater adoption of AI-driven automation across the board. Here are some of the most compelling use cases for you to consider:
· Recruitment. Talent management platforms featuring AI offer the ability to fast-track and streamline hiring processes. AI-powered algorithms can screen resumes en-masse, ensuring the most qualified and suitable candidates are quickly identified. AI-powered chatbots can also be deployed to assess candidates at the initial interview stage, helping to relieve the burden on recruitment staff and reducing the length of recruitment campaigns.
· Inventory Management. AI-driven automation can help businesses optimise stock levels by analysing data to forecast demand. By helping to spot buying patterns and anticipating supply chain disruption, AI can help businesses maintain product availability while minimising waste.
· Sales Analytics. AI models can be applied to sales data, to help businesses optimise sales strategies, anticipate future demand, and tailor production activities accordingly. Through AI-powered data analytics, businesses can identify the most effective sales and marketing approaches, and leverage these to drive better sales outcomes.
· Invoice Automation. AI-driven automation can be applied to various aspects of invoice processing to improve efficiency and reduce errors. Optical character recognition (OCR) and machine learning algorithms can analyse and extract written data from invoices, including line items, amounts and vendor names, and input this data into accounting software. Automation can also be used to streamline approval processes, ensuring each invoice is routed to the relevant stakeholders before payment is approved.
Internet of Things (IoT)
The internet of things refers to physical devices housing sensors which generate and feed data to other devices or networks, over the internet. The goal of IoT is to create autonomous or semi-autonomous intelligent systems, which can communicate, collect and share information seamlessly, to enhance efficiency, convenience and business productivity.
IoT integration has become more prevalent in recent years, with widespread adoption across a range of business sectors, including healthcare, logistics, manufacturing, transport, retail and agriculture. However, some predict that the IoT revolution is still yet to truly take off, with experts forecasting around 50 billion IoT devices in active use globally by 2050. 2024 could therefore be a pivotal year in terms of IoT adoption, as businesses seek to capitalise on the data analytics and improved decision-making IoT can facilitate.
Industry Cloud Platforms
Cloud services have been a focal point of digital innovation for the last decade or so, with cloud services like Microsoft 365 providing the versatile and scalable resources that modern businesses demand.
2024 is likely to see accelerated growth in the development and adoption of industry cloud platforms: specialised software solutions which cater to the challenges and pressures of specific sectors. Such solutions can help businesses overcome operational challenges, achieve widespread efficiency savings, and ensure compliance with industry-specific regulations and standards. Common characteristics of industry cloud platforms include:
· Custom Data Protections. Industry cloud platforms typically incorporate the data controls and protections prescribed by industry-specific standards and regulations, including (but not limited to) encryption, access controls and data loss prevention mechanisms.
· Interoperability. Industry cloud platforms typically support integration with prominent applications and services used within the industry, promoting seamless data sharing and creating opportunities for powerful automation.
· Data Analytics. Businesses can extract meaningful insights from their data with powerful data analytics capabilities. From predictive analytics, to performance monitoring and reporting, industry cloud platforms help businesses derive value from data by supporting the analysis of the industry-relevant metrics.
From generative AI to the continued growth of IoT, 2024 is likely to abound with technological opportunities for businesses of all sizes, and across all sectors. By becoming an early adopter of these exciting technologies, you’ll position your business for growth and strategic success in the years ahead, and ensure the best possible service delivery for your customers.
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