By Andy Whitehurst, Chief Technology Officer UK, Sopra Steria
We’ve emerged from the pandemic and into the “new normal”, but now UK businesses face another threat – the impending recession. The only way is forward, and 2023 is set to be a year of accelerated business transformation enabled by technology.
As organisations face increased accountability towards ensuring greater employee satisfaction, as well as a sustainable environment and planet for the future, placing technology at the centre of business strategy will be crucial to responding to changing attitudes. In this article, we explore five considerations which will play a key role in transformation strategies in 2023:
Trend 1 – Technology and edge computing will be essential to businesses reaching their ESG goals
As an energy crisis looms over Europe, it will be crucial for businesses to become more self-sufficient and resilient. In tandem, increasing scrutiny from customers, employees, and investors means companies will need to provide more tangible evidence they are making real progress in their renewable energy or pollution reduction efforts. As 60% of consumers globally rated sustainability as an important purchase criterion – organisations who can’t act, risk losing business and investment.
Business leaders are beginning to realise technology is essential to reaching ESG goals, and so will take corporate sustainability initiatives to the next level. This means we’ll start to see an increase in digital and sustainable transformation, with a focus on decarbonisation, net zero targets, and a shift toward clean technology. Effective use of cloud computing, using only the compute power you need when you need it, can underpin this shift.
Another key development that will support this, is 5G and its ability to support real-time edge computing and analytics. This will massively reduce the latency of gleaning actionable insight – contributing to a better, more sustainable, world.
Trend 2 – The metaverse will be utilised as a digital twin for practical business applications
The foundations for the metaverse and the age of augmented and virtual reality will continue to advance in 2023. While there’s lots of talk around gaming, socialising and shopping in the metaverse, we often overlook the practical businesses applications it could support.
The metaverse itself acts as a digital twin to our universe and our day-to-day reality. In theory, organisations could simulate different operational scenarios in the metaverse, changing inputs and observing subsequent outputs, which they can test until a positive outcome has been reached. This could be anything from transportation and logistics, to manufacturing, and even system-based processes like recruitment. Ultimately, these digital twins can help businesses visualise every aspect of a planned project or live operation, allowing for missteps to be identified, processes to be optimised, and operational costs reduced.
Another benefit of the metaverse will be its ability to allow remote workers to interact and collaborate with one another without the need to travel to the office, providing more of a face-to-face feel than traditional video calls.
Trend 3 – Cloud computing will drive business transformation
This year, there will be a great opportunity for companies to refine or perhaps even redefine the way they’re using the cloud. Around 90% of all businesses are currently using some form of cloud computing services. However, many continue to use cloud as if it were traditional IT infrastructure, missing the opportunity to drive the inherent value and real-time flexibility of the cloud.
In 2023, we can expect to see an increasing demand for industry clouds, tailored to meet an industry’s specific requirements and needs. Industry cloud platforms combine traditional cloud services with tailored, industry-specific functionality to address historically hard-to-tackle vertical challenges. With customers increasingly looking for more personalised solutions, cloud-based solutions that are easy to customise will be crucial.
Cloud-based tools will also continue to be critical in the workplace. Despite offices reopening, hybrid work models are here to stay, and the cloud can support these flexible work environments. From cloud-based tools for communication, project management, file sharing, knowledge management and more, this will ultimately enable employee collaboration and productivity, anywhere and anytime.
Companies that adopt the cloud well can bring new capabilities to market more quickly, innovate more easily, and scale more efficiently – all while reducing technology risk and technical debt.
Trend 4 – Cyber security concerns will continue to intensify
In 2022, fraud levels were consistent across 24 hours, seven days a week. With modern collaborative technologies, fraudsters are more connected than ever across the globe and can mount sophisticated, persistent and multi-faceted attacks.
This year, the cyber landscape will continue to evolve, with attacks becoming more and more targeted as threat actors deploy increasingly advanced tactics. With workers more likely than ever to use personal devices to remotely connect to work networks, a new set of challenges have emerged.
Businesses must make cybersecurity a priority in 2023. Whether that is through investing in upleveling employees cyber skills, implementing a cybersecurity training programme, or introducing the right security tools such as multi-factor authentication, businesses need to fortify their defences by mitigating cyber threats.
Trend 5 – Putting a human lens on AI and plugging the skills gap
The use of AI tools can help organisations to make better decisions and enjoy more predictable outcomes. For instance, it helps businesses to identify weak areas of their operations or more accurately predict market trends, prospects, customers and competitors. But, as more decisions are made by AI, we need to consider the impact it has on us as customers and citizens.
Earlier in the year, the UK government set out an ambitious ten-year plan to cement the UK’s role as an AI superpower. While in its early stages, clear guidance about transparency and fairness will be necessary for people to understand the cause and effect of decisions made using AI that have implications for them, their livelihoods and their wellbeing. For the past few years, there has been a lot of scepticism surrounding the technology and its implementation, so transparency and (simple) explanation will be crucial to gaining consumer trust.
One of the key barrier’s businesses will see in AI is the skills shortage – addressing this has never been more important. In the UK, only 27% of UK business leaders think their non-technical workforce is well-prepared to leverage new technology. Solving the lack of diversity in AI will help address the overall skills gap by broadening the pool of available talent. It will also create more diverse solutions.
2023 and beyond
With all the ways the world has changed so far this decade, there are bound to be a few surprises in store for 2023 which no one can predict. What we do know is that business transformation will continue to be a major driver over the next 12 months, so it is vital that businesses invest in the right technologies – such as cloud computing, AI and cyber security – if they’re to survive (or even thrive) during the economic downturn.