Over the course of 2023, organisations have been eagerly discussing how AI tools can drive value into their businesses. “As the technological landscape evolves with the rise of GenAI, businesses are entering an era where the effective management of data, the need for skilled resources, and the optimisation of existing environments become of paramount importance,” starts Reece Gohil, Public Cloud Product Owner at Six Degrees.
“As GenAI becomes more embedded into cloud computing there will be an even greater shift in seeing the value IT can drive as a strategic enabler for business goals, helping redefine the power GenAI and cloud computing can bring to an organisation,” he says.
"AI’s impact on the contact centre workforce will be transformative over the next 10 years,” adds Dave Hoekstra, Product Evangelist at Calabrio. Contrary to concerns about job displacement, a resounding 70% of contact centre managers believe that the number of agents will increase. “This forecast indicates that AI will serve to augment human abilities, creating a heightened demand for well-trained agents proficient in working alongside AI technologies and efficiently engaging with customers.”
Moving into 2024, the integration of threat intelligence with technologies such as AI and machine learning is also expected to accelerate. Avkash Kathiriya, Sr. VP - Research and Innovation at Cyware, explains that “this integration will work to enhance threat prediction and response capabilities. The trend of cross-industry collaboration in sharing internal and external threat intelligence will also become more commonplace, underlining its role in building robust and adaptable cybersecurity strategies.”
Redefining the customer experience
AI is expected to prompt a huge drive in personalised customer experiences in 2024. “Today’s retailers will utilise technology like AI to learn much more about consumer behaviour, likes and dislikes, informing predictive recommendations,” notes Rob Shaw, SVP and GM EMEA at Fluent Commerce. “Retailers are already spending on enhancing online experiences, making the most of channels such as social media to advertise products and services. The focus now will be how to utilise these platforms to get more ‘eyes on’, making more people want to shop with the brand."
AI is also proving a “game-changer” for supply chains, Oleksander Ivanov, Digital Logistics & Supply Chain Technology Leader at Intellias, adds. “In 2024 we will start to envision a world where supply chains are self-aware, can forecast tomorrow’s customer demand, and can analyse their own inefficiencies and re-route shipments in real time based on rapid weather changes,” he outlines. “Picture warehouses corresponding autonomously with distributors and regulating stock before shop managers are even aware there’s a need to replenish it. Imagine self-driving cars and drones delivering products and being able to see where your order is in an app.”
2023 saw the world’s first concrete initiative for regulating AI come into force with the EU AI Act, with more regulation set to follow in 2024. Guillaume Crapart, Senior Director of Channel Sales at Quantum, urges that humans need to control what is being produced by AI. “We’ll still need human employees to oversee the technology and have the final say, as currently AI isn’t reliable enough to stand alone.
“This will be especially vital when it comes to compliance needs. We’re going to see AI regulations come into force in 2024. How far will we be made to go? No one can say right now - but this isn’t a problem that’s going to go away any time soon.”
”AI initiatives are forcing organisations to review their ability to create 360-degree views of their data so machine learning based reasoning can take all the available data as input,” adds Mathieu Jonglez, VP Technology – Application & Data Platform at Progress. “Data governance and knowledge management practices which until now were treated as a regulatory cost, are starting to be perceived by leading organisations as an opportunity cost to drive better decision making.”
One step at a time
If 2023 was the year Generative AI appeared, 2024 will be the year IT teams are inundated with requests from every area of the business wanting to implement it somehow - but it won’t all happen overnight. Terry Storrar, managing director at Leaseweb UK, explains that in the data centre industry, “AI will enable incremental improvements in areas like data management, and crucially in managing and sourcing clean energy.”
However, no one can expect AI to be a big bang that is suddenly going to revolutionise the data centre industry. “It’s more realistic to say that many small steps will create positive strides as data centres learn to apply AI technologies for more efficient and sustainable business operations,” Storrar explains.
AI is a big investment, notes Mark Wilson, Technology and Innovation Director at Node4. “For other CIOs, 2024 will be about “watching and waiting” to see what happens before they fully invest in their own tactical AI developments. In the meantime, they may choose to rent a
graphics processing unit as a service or consume compute and storage from hyperscalers, like Microsoft, where their investment is more flexible.”
A note of caution
Since the term AI has re-burst onto the scene thanks to generative AI tools like ChatGPT, vendors have been keen to capitalise on the AI hype. Matt Rider, VP of engineering at Exabeam, argues that as a result, “we are currently seeing the term overused, misrepresented, and exaggerated. In 2024, I expect we will only continue to see this grow.”
“Whilst there will be huge interest in AI implementations, vendors need to be very careful about how they plan to market their ‘AI’ products,” he continues. “As time goes on, the term will become less mystified and customers will become increasingly savvy about what actually constitutes AI and what to reasonably expect from it. Vendors need to ensure their AI technology passes muster once you scratch the surface.”
However, while the tendency for organisations is to grab hold of shiny new technologies, sometimes caution is required. For example, a big trend we are seeing in the cloud is repatriation: the process of moving data sets back to an on-premise environment from the cloud
Christopher Rogers, senior technology evangelist at Zerto, a Hewlett-Packard Enterprise company, explains: “Since the ‘gold rush’ to the cloud, organisations have been discovering that moving anything and everything over was perhaps not the great decision it seemed at the time.
While he believes there are endless benefits to the cloud, this is only the case when it is used appropriately. “Many are now finding that the cloud is far more costly than originally thought and the promises of eventual cost savings are proving empty. As such, in 2024, it seems likely that many organisations will begin reevaluating their cloud strategies.”
While it's impossible to predict the future, if 2023 is anything to go by then we are set for another transformative year in tech.