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Adapt or Be Left Behind: Top Tech Priorities for a Changing World

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Khushbu Raval
Khushbu Raval
Khushbu is a Senior Correspondent and a content strategist with a special foray into DataTech and MarTech. She has been a keen researcher in the tech domain and is responsible for strategizing the social media scripts to optimize the collateral creation process.

Tech leaders share their top priorities for 2024! Explore insights on AI, cybersecurity, upskilling, and more to drive business growth in the ever-evolving tech landscape.

The technological landscape is ever-evolving, and the year promises to be another year of exciting advancements and disruptions. As a tech leader, navigating this dynamic environment is crucial to propelling your business forward. But with so many options and priorities vying for attention, where do you begin?

To gain valuable insights, we hit the streets (or the internet) and talked to tech leaders from various industries. We asked them a critical question: What should technology leaders prioritize in 2024 to empower business growth? Their responses shed light on various strategic approaches, highlighting the most pressing considerations for tech leaders in the year ahead.

Some emphasized embracing emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to automate tasks, improve efficiency, and gain deeper customer understanding. Others championed building a robust cybersecurity infrastructure to safeguard sensitive data in an increasingly digital world. Additionally, fostering a culture of innovation and continuous learning emerged as a key theme, with leaders recognizing the need to adapt and upskill their teams to stay ahead of the curve.

The voices you’ll hear in this vox-pop showcase a variety of perspectives. From focusing on data-driven decision-making to prioritizing employee experience through user-friendly tech solutions, these insights offer a comprehensive look at the priorities shaping the tech landscape in 2024. So, buckle up and get ready to hear from your fellow tech leaders as they share their strategies for achieving business success in the new year!

Building Apps for User Delight and Business Growth (Outside-In Approach)

Asanka Abeysinghe, Chief Technology Officer, WSO2 

Asanka Abeysinghe, Chief Technology Officer, WSO2

Adopt an “outside-in” approach. This strategy centers around building applications that deliver exceptional digital experiences to all users, internal or external. By focusing on user experience, technology leaders can ensure that their applications are functional, engaging, intuitive, and aligned with user needs.

The outside-in approach also involves understanding how these applications feed into the organization’s value streams. This means developing technology solutions that solve immediate user problems and contribute to broader business objectives. By doing so, technology leaders can ensure that their tech initiatives are not just isolated projects but integral parts of their business growth strategy. Moreover, a shift from a project to a product mindset is essential. This transition means continually refining and improving these applications based on user feedback, ensuring they evolve with changing needs and remain integral to delivering value. 

In summary, prioritizing user-centric application development, aligning with organizational value streams, and moving from a project to a product mindset should be key focuses for technology leaders in 2024. This will enhance user satisfaction and drive meaningful business outcomes.

Rethinking Data Center Infrastructure for Sustainability, Security, and Flexibility

Giordano (Gio) Albertazzi, Chief Executive Officer, Vertiv

Giordano (Gio) Albertazzi, Chief Executive Officer, Vertiv

  • AI sets the terms for new builds and retrofits: Surging demand for artificial intelligence across applications is pressuring organizations to change their operations significantly. Legacy facilities need to be equipped to support widespread implementation of the high-density computing required for AI, with many needing more infrastructure for liquid cooling.

    In the coming year, more organizations will realize that half-measures are insufficient and opt for new construction — increasingly featuring prefabricated modular solutions that shorten deployment timelines — or large-scale retrofits that fundamentally alter their power and cooling infrastructure. Such significant changes present opportunities to implement eco-friendly technologies and practices, including liquid cooling for AI servers, applied in concert with air-cooled thermal management to support the entire data center space.
  • Expanding the search for energy storage alternatives: New energy storage technologies and approaches have shown the ability to intelligently integrate with the grid and deliver on a pressing objective — reducing generator starts. Battery energy storage systems (BESS) support extended runtime demands by shifting the load as necessary and for longer durations. They can also integrate seamlessly with alternative energy sources like solar or fuel cells. This minimizes generator use and reduces their environmental impact. BESS installations will be more common in 2024, eventually evolving to fit “bring your power” (BYOP) models and delivering the capacity, reliability, and cost-effectiveness needed to support AI-driven demand. 
  • Enterprises prioritize flexibility: While cloud and colocation providers aggressively pursue new deployments to meet demand, organizations with enterprise data centers will likely diversify investments and deployment strategies. AI is a factor here as organizations wrestle with how best to enable and apply the technology while meeting sustainability objectives. Businesses may look to on-premise capacity to support proprietary AI and edge application deployments may be impacted by AI tailwinds.

    Many organizations can be expected to prioritize incremental investment – leaning heavily on prefabricated modular solutions – and service and maintenance to extend the life of legacy equipment. Such services can provide ancillary benefits, optimizing operations to free up capacity in maxed-out computing environments and increasing energy efficiency. Likewise, organizations can reduce Scope 3 carbon emissions by extending the life of existing servers rather than replacing and scrapping them. 
  • The race to the cloud faces security hurdles: Gartner projects global spending on public cloud services to increase by 20.4% in 2024, and the mass migration to the cloud shows no signs of abating. This puts pressure on cloud providers to increase capacity quickly to support demand for AI and high-performance compute. They will continue to turn to colocation partners worldwide to enable that expansion.

    For cloud customers moving more and more data offsite, security is paramount, and according to Gartner, 80% of CIOs plan to increase spending on cyber/information security in 2024. Disparate national and regional data security regulations may create complex security challenges as efforts to standardize continue. 

Striking a Balance Between Security and Seamless Digital Experience

Joseph Carson, Chief Security Scientist & Advisory CISO, Delinea

Joseph Carson, Chief Security Scientist & Advisory CISO, Delinea

As IT becomes more pervasive in the modern enterprise, the onus is on IT teams to make digital experiences as seamless as possible for customers and employees, all while ensuring security is not compromised. If technology is more of an encumbrance than an enabler, then even the best-intended solutions will have little business value. Finding this balance has been a key objective for IT teams, and significant progress has been made.  

This is why we saw 2023 as a turning point in authentication methods. Passkeys, also known as WebAuthn or FIDO2, gained prominence as a more secure and convenient alternative to traditional passwords. These passkeys can be used with hardware tokens, biometric identifiers, or mobile devices, reducing the risk of phishing and credential theft.  

Another major development was Google announcing that they would make passkeys the default sign-in option across Google accounts, so users are no longer required to remember or choose passwords. This is a massive step in improving security in the authentication process. 

Many organizations have started implementing passwordless authentication to enhance security and improve the user experience. The more we move passwords into the background and the less humans need to interact with them, the better and safer our digital world will become. This is certainly an area that IT leaders should prioritize in 2024, as striking a balance between security and seamless digital experiences will play an increasingly prominent role in ensuring positive business outcomes. Passwords won’t be completely replaced anytime soon as organizations have many legacy systems and applications requiring compatibility for many years.   

Also Read: Explained: Predictive Analytics

Modern Cyber Threats: Identity and Supply Chain

Morey Haber, Chief Security Officer at BeyondTrust

Morey Haber, Chief Security Officer at BeyondTrust

In 2024, technology leaders should focus on two cybersecurity issues that could hinder their business growth. While neither of these are traditional recommendations, like vulnerability management or endpoint security, recent security trends in the industry warrant a near-immediate response.

The first is Identity Security. The attacks against identities, accounts, users, and entitlements utilizing social engineering have been cited as the root cause of some of the most recent and devasting breaches. Identity Security is the architecture, protection, detection, and response of an entire identity and access management infrastructure within an organization. Organizations should review the entire process for identity management and verify key technologies responsible for authentication, multifactor authentication, identity governance, and privileged access management are secure, enforced, and up to date to minimize the risk surface from an identity attack vector.

The second is Supply Chain Attacks. Every modern organization licenses software and deploys technology to manage workflows and automate processes. Even the smallest business accepting credit cards has embraced payment and account reconciliation technology. Within each of these technology stacks exists a risk related to the security of the company that manufactures and distributes the solution. If a flaw is exploited and impacts clients, a supply chain attack amplifies a single attack to potentially all the vendor’s clients.  Supply chain attacks have caused recent breaches, and all organizations should review, harden, and remediate any vulnerabilities related to their products and the solutions provided by their trusted vendors to avoid future incidents.

The Twin Pillars of Business Growth in 2024: Digital Transformation and Fortified Cybersecurity

Paul Baird, Director of Cyber Security Operations and Engineering, Advanced

Paul Baird, Director of Cyber Security Operations and Engineering, Advanced

Every organization will have unique challenges and nuances dictating what technology leaders must prioritize in 2024 to help their business grow. At the top of the list are two key initiatives to propel business growth: digital transformation and cybersecurity. 

Digital transformation is not just a technological overhaul; it’s a strategic shift that influences all aspects of the business. By harnessing the power of data through analytics, organizations can make informed decisions, identify new opportunities, and stay ahead of market trends. Furthermore, adopting cloud technologies enables scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. It facilitates remote work, which has become integral to modern work environments, leveraging emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation to streamline operations and enhance customer experiences. This initiative ensures the organization remains agile, responsive, and competitive in the ever-evolving market.

Additionally, a strong emphasis on cybersecurity is crucial, considering escalating cyber threats in the world we live in today. Regular updates to security protocols, comprehensive risk assessments, and investments in advanced cybersecurity solutions are imperative to safeguard sensitive data and maintain customer trust.

While these initiatives are pivotal, they should be approached with a holistic perspective, ensuring they align with the organization’s overarching goals. Technology leaders can establish a solid foundation for sustained business growth, innovation, and resilience in an increasingly competitive landscape by strategically implementing digital transformation and fortifying cybersecurity measures. Regular reassessment and adaptation to emerging trends will be essential to stay ahead of the curve.

Why Investing in Your IT People is the Key to Business Success

Sascha Giese, Global Technical Evangelist, SolarWinds

Sascha Giese, Global Technical Evangelist, SolarWinds

Only a few years ago, IT supported the business. Today, the dynamics have shifted, and IT runs the business. This then raises a critical question — who runs IT? It’s not solutions or the latest tech. No, it’s people. 

The answer that I would offer to technology leaders is to prioritize and invest in their people. Skilled IT professionals ensure the organization runs at its best and can remove roadblocks before they become real problems. In addition, they drive innovation, which lays the path for securing the future of the business. And, let’s remember, they improve customer satisfaction. Internal customers (i.e., employees) are more productive when enabled by effective IT solutions. External customers empowered by exceptional digital experiences keep bringing money to the business. For these reasons, IT professionals who bring expertise and a fresh mindset to the organization are irreplaceable.

Also Read: AI Transforms Telecoms: Faster Service, Greener Solutions

Balancing Growth with Sustainability and Security in AI

Sharon Mandell, Chief Information Officer, Juniper Networks 

Sharon Mandell, Chief Information Officer, Juniper Networks 

One of the key areas of focus for technology leaders committed to helping their organizations grow should be how to operationalize generative AI (GenAI), even if we haven’t solved the cost management challenge yet. As we move beyond the proof-of-concept (POC) phases, the productivity gains and potential savings will become increasingly clear, especially in coding, test creation, legal, and marketing content creation or validation. IT will also be pressured to convert these gains into real benefits or cost reductions.

At the same time, sustainability will remain on the agenda, partially because customers are asking about it — not only for AI but across the board. For example, 60% of Juniper’s top customers have carbon reduction goals for vendors. That said, generative AI’s compute requirements (not all AI) can be high. Thus, as we work on concept proofs, we’ll have to evaluate these costs in our value equation for the use case and the usual metrics. Moreover, CIOs will be required to manage and provide data for ESG reporting while also baking ESG and energy efficiency into technology decision-making.

We also anticipate that security concerns will evolve, demanding greater attention and investment. This includes safeguarding GenAI systems. In response to emerging threats, we expect a growing percentage of IT budgets to be spent on prevention, mitigation, and recovery efforts. Furthermore, ensuring compliance with new regulatory requirements in the UAE and the wider Middle Eastern region will be a big focus.

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