Recent years have been a tumultuous time for businesses across almost all sectors. From the operational challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic to the economic difficulties presented by rising inflation, almost no business has emerged unscathed.
While no-one wants to revisit these recent crises, they have been useful in forcing businesses to re-examine their use of technology and explore – and in many cases, adopt – modern alternatives to yesterday’s outdated legacy tech. Longstanding trends such as the growth in cloud computing and remote working were accelerated, resulting in increased adoption of agile, cost-effective workplace productivity solutions like Microsoft 365. Offering enterprise mobility as standard, scalable access to resources and cost-efficient pricing structures, “the cloud” in general has played a leading role in recent years, and enabled the flexible working practices that offer benefits to both employer and employee.
Since 2009 Grapevine MSP has been supporting businesses in Bakersfield and the San Joaquin valley with tech support and solutions that provide real business value. The last decade has been a period of major upheaval in the IT sphere, and many of the major trends look set to continue into 2023 and beyond. So what will the technology landscape look like in 2023, and which emerging technologies should your IT provider be helping you implement? Here are the 5 main tech trends to watch out for in 2023.
Business process automation and AI
The economic challenges of recent years have seen businesses look for ways to become leaner, more efficient and more productive, with many turning to AI and business process automation as potential solutions.
Business Process Automation (often shortened to BPA) involves the use of computer programmes to eliminate or vastly reduce the human input required to perform menial, time-consuming workplace tasks. When used appropriately, BPA can free up staff for more valuable activities and allow tedious manual processes to be completed more quickly and free from human error. From sales and marketing to expense filing and HR, BPA can be applied in almost any business department and is becoming increasingly commonplace in enterprise software.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a slightly more complex concept, and while the science underpinning AI has been around since the mid 20th century it’s only really emerged in the mainstream workplace in the last decade or so. The simplest definition of AI is: the ability of a computer to simulate human cognitive abilities, such as the capacity to make sense of confusing, imprecise audio/visual data and use experience to inform future decisions. Speech recognition software – such as that found in smart speakers – is a prominent domestic application of AI, and the recently launched “ChatGPT” demonstrates AI’s potential when incorporated into chatbots.
In the office AI is already being used in a number of useful ways. In recruitment for example, AI-based CV scanning tools are available which pre-screen applications against essential criteria, resulting in a shorter more efficient selection process. In cyber security, AI-powered predictive security tools which detect and analyse anomalous network activity are helping cybersecurity teams pre-empt attacks and avoid damaging data breaches.
The Internet of Things
Another emergent technology that looks set to expand further in 2023 is the internet of things. Internet of things (IoT) devices are network-attached devices that gather data using sensors and share it to other devices as necessary, perhaps for analysis purposes or to guide an ongoing process.
Increasingly cheap and attainable, IoT devices are finding their way into businesses across many sectors, but they are particularly valuable in any setting where manual data capture is a burden on frontline staff.
In healthcare for example, heart rate monitors and a range of similar devices enable doctors and nurses to monitor the condition of patients remotely, giving patients more privacy and allowing staff resources to be used to greater effect. In logistics, handheld scanning devices allow warehouse staff to update the shipping process in real-time. This helps streamline the fulfilment process and gives customers access to live tracking information.
Analysts predict that cyber-crime will continue to rise in the years ahead, with experts predicting that online crime will cost the global economy $10.5 in 2025, up from $3 trillion in 2015. Research also suggests that cyber criminals are becoming more sophisticated, even using AI to trawl the internet to source information about their victims in order to launch increasingly effective attack campaigns.
Faced with this increasingly hostile threat landscape, many businesses are turning to a new generation of cyber security tools which offer far more advanced capabilities than the conventional protections most businesses already have in place.
Incorporating machine learning and AI, these new security tools can predict and thwart cyber threats before they’re able to take hold. They work by comparing live network activity with baseline norms in order to spot anything that deviates from normal user patterns and other expected behaviours. More sensitive and perceptive than human operatives, these systems can take swift and decisive action to lock out security threats at the onset of an attack, keeping data secure and preventing the bad actors gaining a foothold in the network.
Extended detection and response (XDR) platforms and an example of next-gen security in action. Using security data drawn from devices, applications, networks and clouds, these systems centralize security detection and response, often feature AI for improved threat analysis, and offer improved security visibility and governance for IT teams.
By enabling access to computing resources and software on a flexible, cost-effective subscription basis, the cloud has given countless business access to IT capabilities that were previously unattainable. The covid pandemic also saw businesses shift to more flexible working practices underpinned by cloud storage solutions and collaboration tools such as Microsoft teams.
In the year ahead, the trend towards low-overhead, mobility-enabling technology is likely to continue as businesses look to turn IT from a costly expense to a vehicle for business growth. In 2023, your IT support provider should be willing to help you explore ways to make your IT more cost effective. Some of the best ways to achieve this aim include:
- Replacing legacy technology. Legacy software systems can be difficult and expensive to maintain, and in some cases can present security vulnerabilities. Switching to a cost-efficient cloud-hosted alternative could help drive down monthly overheads and make your team more productive.
- Review your broadband options. Switching to a more affordable broadband provider can be a quick and easy way to save money. Make sure your assess your speed/bandwidth requirements first to ensure any new service has the capacity you need.
- Draw business insights from data. Many businesses are sitting on a wealth of unexploited data, much of which could hold real commercial value if correctly utilised. Business insight tools that draw together data from multiple sources can be a great way to uncover the value in data, with the ability to discover consumer trends, test the efficacy of marketing strategies and draw new insights from sales pipelines.
- Embrace VoIP telephony. Offering cheaper call charges and zero maintenance, hosted VoIP phone systems offer immediate cost savings to businesses willing to make the make the switch.
Proactive Support by default
IT downtime can be extremely damaging for any business, with the effects ranging from immediate loss of sales to reputational damage. In 2023, reactive IT support – support that steps in after an issue has created a problem – is no longer enough. Instead, your IT provider should be taking proactive measures to mitigate against potential disruption.
Remote monitoring and maintenance has become the norm, rather than the exception, in recent years. In 2023 your IT provider should have these capabilities in order to diagnose network issues and perform maintenance and repair tasks without visiting your premises, and ahead of minor issues escalating into disruptive outages.
We’re Grapevine – Tailored technology and peerless IT support for Bakersfield businesses
Since 2009, we’ve helped many businesses in Bakersfield and across the San Joaquin valley take advantage of technology to become more profitable, competitive and efficient. From proactive IT support and cutting-edge cyber security, to innovative cloud solutions and futureproof telephony: we offer a full suite of IT services designed to help SMEs thrive in our competitive digital age. Get in touch today to find out how our team can help your business.