Global spending on information technology is forecast to increase by about 5 per cent to $4.6 trillion next year as businesses accelerate the pace of digital transformation to offset the effects of the pandemic and economic uncertainty, according to Gartner.
Covid-induced market disruptions and widespread adoption of hybrid work models have fast-tracked the process.
“Economic turbulence will change the context for technology investments, increasing spending in some areas and accelerating declines in others,” said John-David Lovelock, research vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.
Amid the increasing digital transformation budgets and emergence of latest innovations, The National looks at the 12 top technology trends for the year ahead.
Digital payments to become new normal
Globally, the Covid-19 pandemic spurred the adoption of digital payments, particularly contactless payments, because of heightened awareness about the spread of infection through banknotes and plastic money.
In 2023, consumer banking will be all about digital interactions first, but this digital experience needs to have security at its foundation, said Anudeep Parhar, chief operating officer of digital at Entrust, a Minnesota-based company that offers software and hardware used to issue financial cards.
“Consumers will require flexible, convenient and secure payment methods, and the demands for security will only grow from here.”
Rise in metaverse
The Metaverse, which is a virtual space where users are represented by digital avatars, is poised to reshape workplaces and businesses in 2023 and beyond.
Currently, the sector is estimated to have a value of between $40 billion and $65 billion.
More users will own and manage their own tamper-proof credentials for applications such as personal health, education and voting records in an encrypted digital wallet on their personal devices.
They will use blockchain to create their identities, leading to more secure transactions between sellers and buyers, Deloitte said in its Tech Trends 2023 report.
Businesses can also verify or issue digital certificates, identities and licences. For example, the car maker BMW has teamed up with the German government on blockchain-based driver’s licences that aim to prevent identity fraud and reduce friction in transactions.
Virtual workspaces becoming common
Virtual workspaces increase companies’ ability to hire and bring together employees regardless of their geographic locations.
For remote-first or hybrid organisations, virtual workspaces may replace the office and eventually become the centre of the digital employee experience next year.
By 2027, fully virtual workspaces will account for about 30 per cent of the investment growth by enterprises in metaverse technologies, Gartner predicted.
Surge in automation spending
In 2023, industry experts expect a sharp rise in automation spending as businesses will aim to do more with less.
“Everybody wants to automate the work they do, meanwhile we are in an economic situation where businesses must prioritise cost efficiency. Automation is about creating ways of working that can save time while continuing to drive efficient growth and simply doing more with less,” said Brent Hayward, chief executive of California-based software company MuleSoft.
As businesses continue to transform, traditional programming or simple automation will not scale enough.
Autonomic computing allows machines to self-manage their physical or software systems as they learn from the changing environments.
Unlike automated or even autonomous systems, autonomic computing can modify algorithms without an external software update, enabling computers to rapidly adapt to new conditions in the field, much like humans.
In 2023, industry experts expect a surge in the use of artificial technology, by both individuals and organisations, to achieve unethical and socially destructive objectives.
Industry, governments, academia, and NGOs will come together to begin hammering out a framework for governing AI in an ethical and responsible manner to mitigate potential harm, technology company Cisco predicted.
“This framework will be based on principles such as transparency, fairness, accountability, privacy, security, and reliability … and will ultimately be applied to model creation and the selection of training data as defining principles of AI systems,” it added.
IoT to make supply chains resilient
Businesses will increasingly use IoT (Internet of Things) to bring full visibility into their supply chains in 2023.
IoT and other technologies will not only play a larger role in bringing resiliency and efficiency into supply chains but will also improve cyber security and IT network management.
“As a result, enterprises and logistics providers will reconfigure supply chains around predictive and prescriptive models including smart contracts and distributed ledgers. This is a major transition towards more sustainable business practices and circular supply chains,” Cisco said.
Re-assessing AI use cases
Businesses will start reassessing their AI business use cases in 2023.
AI must become a productivity multiplier quickly to prove its value, said Shaun McGirr, regional vice president of AI strategy for Europe, Middle East and Africa at New York-headquartered AI company Dataiku.
“As economic volatility makes companies reassess the value of their AI initiatives, we will see companies look to experts to focus on building realistic, lasting, and scalable impact.”
By 2025, without sustainable practices, AI will consume more energy than the human workforce, significantly offsetting carbon-zero gains, Gartner predicted.
Eco-friendly data centre designs
Eco-friendly design has been talked about for years when it comes to data centres, which offer cloud storage to customers.
“With data centres consuming between 1 and 2 per cent of the entire planet’s electricity, these sharply rising [power] prices will have a massive knock-on effect next year,” said James Petter, vice president and general manager, international, at Pure Storage, an American publicly traded technology company.
“We will [also] see creative ways to use the heat that data centres produce, whether as another renewable energy source or diverted into innovative side projects.”
Data sovereignty on top
Safeguarding data sovereignty and offering customised solutions depending on different geographies will be a high priority on the agenda of cloud providers such as Oracle, Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft.
Data sovereignty regulations require businesses to develop solutions that ensure they conform with the country’s individual data privacy and security laws. Not abiding by the regulations in the areas where they collect, process or store customers' data can lead to significant fines or other legal action.
Quantum computers represent a massive acceleration in computing speed and performance. They are expected to deliver extraordinary advances across a multitude of industries including pharmaceutical development, nuclear energy, materials science, renewable energy, climate change mitigation, sustainable agriculture and more.
The world's biggest economies — the US, Russia, China and Japan — as well as tech titans IBM, Alibaba, Google and Microsoft, are all battling for supremacy in the field. Companies such as Visa, JP Morgan and Volkswagen are also experimenting with early-stage quantum technology.