By: Teradata experts
From advances in AI/ML tied to digital twins & simulations to the expansion of satellite/cellular partnerships to expand coverage to remote or under-served areas, our tech & industry experts weigh in on what they think are the game-changing predictions for 2023.
Technology & Business
Dan Spurling, SVP, Product Engineering
Trusted Social Connectedness: While Twitter is imploding, and social media is generally seen as a negative, I believe that humans still crave connectedness in this space – especially when it is intentionally curated to ensure dependence – but that we will require both 1) greater transparency into who is stating the information that we consume, while 2) ensuring some form of security and privacy only with those whom we select (obvious potential conflict)
Digital Twins: I believe there will be advances in the ML/AI evolution tied to digital twins or simulations; moving beyond just sensors that predict machine failure or buying propensities, and moving into predictions of economic markets, food production, population health, etc.
Data Reduction: There is an exponentially increasing amount of data, but I believe we will see rise of solutions that deduce the meaningful bits of data from the overall mass of data collected, or even reduce the footprint of data using new technologies beyond current classic data storage techniques
Personal Security: (Unfortunately) Driven by greater government destabilisation and associated erosion of trust in government, I believe we will see increasing tech advances in the areas of personnel security and security monitoring
Risk Aversion: I predict that there will be reduced willingness to take large risks or make investments into risky ideas, thereby increasing the success of entrenched incumbents and decreasing the broad proliferation of new tech adoption across the large enterprises, resulting in reduced startup growth and flat to growing revenue for large software or service providers.
Michael Hay, VP, Product Management
Consolidation, Concurrency and Currency: With the looming recession, there is a natural tendency to figure out how to do more with less. How to focus on profit overgrowth. As a result, customers will shrink their footprints and seek to do the same or more work. This speaks to deploying Data and Analytics systems that can incrementally scale, but return a benefit significantly larger than a nominal incremental investment. Another way to look at this is platforms that have the virtues of being cheaper to perform queries, experiment, and avoid the data copy tax will win.
More, not less, Cloud providers:
Two global patterns, increased protectionism and a strong shift towards profitability to weather the looming recession, point to the genesis of more, not less, cloud providers. These new providers can be one of:
• General providers focused on meeting country or region-specific protectionist policies and avoiding laws and regulations with global reach, like the USA Cloud Act.
• Cloud provider plays that emphasise a special focus on unique industry requirements. For example, Energy or Healthcare companies could shift their business towards providing cloud and analytics services with acute emphasis on their respective industries and regulatory regimes.
• SaaS companies who have reached sufficient scale and must become profitable to survive.
These providers will be looking for software and services that enable them to be successful as cloud providers, and companies who are capable of supplying them, will win.
Mike Skypala, Industry Lead, EMEA
Hybrid is here to stay: People are now using both online and offline formats to shop, with in-store experiences seen as a chance to touch, feel and see the products. Many retailers are following IKEA’s lead by showing consumers what a full “at-home room” could look like in their retail spaces, making it a more visually led interaction. This blended approach to shopping is likely to stick around, which adds a certain element of complexity for retailers looking to track and interact with customers on their purchase journey and understanding the profitability of each, with analytics helping to comprehend these shifts and changes in behaviour.
Cost conscious shopping will intensify in 2023: As the cost-of-living crisis continues, there will be a sustained focus on value and cost-effective shopping as we head into a New Year. With the launch of an “Essentials” range in almost every supermarket speaking to this ongoing focus, consumer spending on non-essential goods, including fashion, homeware and beauty is likely to also continue to fall. As a result, retailers should ensure a steady flow of canned foods and cupboard essentials as these remain the priority items for many.
Sustainability remains a priority: Though sustainability has been at the forefront of consumer minds for years now, we’ve yet to see it truly become a systemic part of a retailer’s business and baked into every decision made; instead, it is often a siloed group of ad-hoc initiatives. By collecting and examining data on a range of sustainability-related issues — from energy use and carbon emissions to mobile consumption habits — companies can generate insights that would drive their sustainability initiatives and inform their long-term strategy moving forward. It’s likely that some form of legislative policy will come in either within this coming year or the next, meaning retailers will have to reach a certain level of sustainable practice in order to keep trading.
Convenience shopping is set to get more convenient: It’s likely that automatic, “scan as you go” and self-check-out options will continue to increase around the country as consumers continue to demand more convenient, faster and streamlined shopping experiences. There’s an opportunity for retailers to expand on personalisation elements in real time, based on actions as consumers walk round the shop, moving away from static data and towards contextual data. Additionally, the U.S. is leading the way with computer vision and smart trollies in particular, which pick up both what is being put in a shopper’s trolley, as well as what needs replenishing on the shelves.
Dave Spear & David King, Senior Industry Consultants for the Retail, CPG & Hospitality
Industries at Teradata
Revenge of the CEO: Unlimited free returns? 15-minute delivery? Metaverse? Expect intense scrutiny from Finance on the ROI and NPV of such investments, with a tougher hurdle due to rising interest rates. Expect “sure” cost reduction proposals to win over “wishful” growth projects as investors crave cashflow and profitability.
Healthy Dose of Retail: Health retailing continues to blur the line between traditional healthcare providers and general retailers. We’ll see more small and large acquisitions by companies like Amazon, Walmart, Target, CVS and Walgreens, all trying to deliver new health services at affordable prices.
QR Beyond James Bond: QR-codes make a giant leap forward in retail. These square codes will unlock huge amounts of data for consumers to engage with and fuel new innovation in supply chain analytics.
Techies More Approachable: Silicon Valley layoffs and tougher work policies provide a window for traditionally less sexy retail tech teams to attract strong talent on the rebound.
Nadine Manjaro, Director, Industry Consultant in Telecommunications and IoT
Fixed Wireless Access: In 2023 US operators will deploy more Fixed Wireless Access solutions.
They will focus on streamlining offers to areas where they have excess network capacity to prevent negative impacts to mobile voice and data services. T-Mobile will continue the lead in the US with over 1.5 million FWA customers through September 2022, followed by Verizon with 1 million FWA customers. Both companies have publicly shared FWA subscribers’ projections. Verizon’s plans to reach 4 to 5 million subscribers by 2025 and T-Mobile’s plans to reach 7 or 8 million within a similar period.
Private 5G: There will also be an expansion of Private 5G services in manufacturing and retail enterprises to optimise manufacturing processes and retail experiences. Large enterprises are seeking end-to-end visibility throughout the manufacturing process as well as the supply chain process. Private 5G will enable more consistent coverage and support more advanced capabilities such as machine vision analytics which enables manufacturers to spot defects earlier and take corrective actions before the produce reached finished goods status.
Cellular/Satellite Partnerships: Expansion of cellular/satellite partnerships to extend coverage to remote and underserved areas. SpaceX and T-Mobile are teaming up to deploy cellular systems on low orbit satellites, this will fill in some coverage gaps in remote areas along some less travelled roads, national parks, and deserts.
Telcos in the cloud: Many Telcos will continue migrating their data to the cloud as a means of reducing costs and enabling wider use of data insights for decision making throughout the different departments. They will encounter cost overruns since some of the providers selected demonstrated value with small, limited workloads. As they move to scale the workloads, they will encounter migration issues, cost over-runs and performance limitations.
Security: Security management will continue to be a major concern in terms of who has access to their environment. This will delay the movement of some workloads to the cloud. The next generation data architecture will be multi-cloud, hybrid with on-prem, multi-vendor ecosystem which enables internal enterprise data marketplaces.
ARPU erosion: In the US, mobile data, and voice ARPU will decrease as operators compete to win subscribers in an oversubscribed market. Customers are more cost conscious because of inflationary pressures and will be more likely to switch providers based on free device offers and lower service charges. This will drive operators to lower the cost of mobile services which will erode ARPU.
C-band deployments: Verizon and AT&T will continue to expand C-band deployments to cover a larger segment of the US population and to gain ground on T-Mobile who has the best spectrum assets in the low and mid bands. They will also need C-band to expand Fixed
Wireless Access services with higher data rates than lower band spectrum.
Consumers win: Consumers will benefit with lower prices and better service. Those who are in remote areas with limited access to broadband will have more options with FWA and satellite to cellular partnerships such as the announced partnership with T-Mobile and SpaceX Starlink satellites. As more devices with both satellite and cellular capabilities proliferate, users can access service from anywhere on earth or even at sea. In addition, businesses will be able to track shipments across the entire route without coverage gaps. Initial coverage with start with test and multi-media but will later expand to voice and data coverage.
John Matthews, Managing Director Healthcare & Life Sciences
Shifts to digital: We will continue to see more shifts to digital settings across industries, but in particular for healthcare as virtual visits and digital consults have made a huge difference in a supply constrained regulated environment. Who wants to actually drive to the doctor when one can video chat just as effectively for many needs?
The politics of healthcare: The politics of healthcare remains so we’ll continue to see big fights over government spending in Medicare and Medicaid, as well as increasing debate over drug pricing. This fight, the lobbying dollars, the election season megaphones will simply not go away as entrenched interests, change agents, and economic realities contend in the public square.
Simon Axon, Industry Consulting Director, EMEA
ESG will continue to define banking in 2023: Governments and world leaders are under increasing pressure to implement stronger regulation and legislation that will demonstrate real change and commitment. Ultimately, governments see financial services as a vehicle to implement net zero policies, as well as to accelerate the path to net zero. We will see the cost of money becoming much higher for carbon damaging activity in the coming year, with more favourable rates provided to those implementing sustainable activities. To do so, banks will need granular information on a host of factors that determine the level of environmental impacts over time and risk across all sectors and all kinds of assets and investments.
Disruption as the “New Normal”: The repeated disruptions felt as a result of COVID-19, Brexit, war and political turmoil have, unsurprisingly, had a detrimental impact on the financial industry – as we’re seeing now with the ongoing rise of inflation and the increased cost of living. While ad-hoc crises are nothing new, these back-to-back and sometimes simultaneous crises is not something the industry has ever had to contend with. In 2023, the banking industry will need to further adapt as the definition of who is categorised as a ‘vulnerable’ customer changes. Banks will need smarter analytics in order to identify these vulnerable customers, with new factors calculating these scores, centred around reliability of income, as opposed to income vs. expenditure. The data needed to understand your customer base, therefore, will need to be more nuanced than it previously was.
‘Tis the Season to be Wary: How to Protect Your Business from Holiday Season Hacking
The holiday season will soon be in full swing, but cybercriminals aren’t known for their holiday spirit. While consumers have traditionally been the prime targets for cybercriminals during the holiday season – lost in a frenzy of last-minute online shopping and unrelenting ads – companies are increasingly falling victim to calculated cyber attacks.
Against this backdrop of relaxed vigilance and festive distractions, cybercriminals are set to deploy everything from ransomware to phishing scams, all designed to capitalise on the holiday haze. Businesses that fail to prioritise their cybersecurity could end up embracing not so much “tidings of comfort and joy” as unwanted data breaches and service outages well into 2024.
With the usual winter disruptions about to kick into overdrive, opportunistic hackers are aiming to exploit organisational turmoil this holiday season. Industry research consistently indicates a substantial spike in cyber attacks targeting businesses during holidays, particularly when coupled with the following factors:
- Employee Burnout: Employee burnout is rife around the holidays. Trying to complete major projects or hit targets before the end of the year can require long hours and intense workweeks. Overwrought schedules combined with the seasonal stressors of Christmas shopping, family politics, travel expenses, hosting duties etc., can lead to a less effective and exhausted workforce.
- Vacation Days: The holiday season is a popular time for employees to use up their vacation days and paid time off. This means offices are often emptier than usual during late December and early January. With fewer people working on-site, critical security tasks are neglected and gaps in security widen.
- Network Strain: The holidays also mark a period of network strain due to increased traffic and network requests. Staff shortages also reduce organisational response capacity if systems are compromised. The result is company networks that are understaffed and overwhelmed.
Seasonal Cyber Attacks
There are many ways bad actors look to exploit system vulnerabilities and human errors to breach defences this time of year. But rather than relying solely on sophisticated hacking techniques, most holiday-fueled cyber attacks succeed through tried and true threat vectors:
- Holiday-Themed Phishing and Smishing Campaigns: Emails and texts impersonating parcel carriers with tracking notifications contain fraudulent links, deploying malware or capturing account credentials once clicked by unwitting recipients trying to track deliveries. A momentary slip-up is all it takes to unleash malware payloads granting complete network access.
- Fake Charity Schemes: Malicious links masquerading as holiday philanthropy efforts compromise business accounts when donated to.
- Remote Access Exploits: External connectivity to internal networks comes with the territory of the season. However, poorly configured cloud apps and public Wi-Fi access points create openings for criminals to intercept company data from inadequately protected employee devices off-site.
- Ransomware Presents: Empty offices combined with delayed threat detection gives innovative extortion malware time to wrap itself around entire company systems and customer data before unveiling a not so jolly ransom note on Christmas morning.
Without proper precautions, the impact from misdirected clicks or downloads can quickly spiral across business servers over the holidays, leading to widespread data breaches and stolen customer credentials.
Essential Steps to Safeguard Systems
While eliminating all risks remains unlikely and tight budgets preclude launching entirely new security initiatives this holiday season, businesses can deter threats and address seasonal shortcomings through several key actions:
Prioritise Core Software Updates
Hardening network infrastructure is the first line of defence this holiday season. With many software products reaching end-of-life in December, it is critical to upgrade network architectures and prioritise core software updates to eliminate known vulnerabilities. Segmenting internal networks and proactively patching software can cut off preferred access routes for bad actors, confining potential breaches when hacking attacks surge.
Cultivate a Culture of Cybersecurity Awareness
Cybersecurity awareness training makes employees more resilient to rising social engineering campaigns and phishing links that increase during the holidays. Refreshing employees on spotting suspicious emails can thwart emerging hacking techniques. With more distractions and time out of the office this season, vigilance is more important than ever! Train your staff to “never” directly click a link from an email or text. Even if they are expecting a delivery they should still go directly to the known trusted source.
Manage Remote Access Proactively
Criminals aggressively pursue any vulnerabilities exposed during the holiday period to intercept financial and customer data while defences lie dormant. Therefore, businesses should properly configure cloud apps and remote networks before the holiday season hits. This will minimise pathways for data compromise when employees eventually disconnect devices from company systems over the holidays.
Mandate Multifactor Authentication (MFA)
Most successful attacks stem from compromised user credentials. By universally mandating MFA across all access points this season, retailers add critical layers of identity verification to secure systems. With MFA fatigue setting in over holidays, have backup verification methods ready to deter credential stuffing.
Prepare to Respond, Not Just Prevent
Despite precautions, holiday disasters can and do occur. Businesses need response plans for periods of disruption and reduced capacity. Have emergency communications prepared for customers and partners in case an attack disrupts operations. The time to prepare is before vacation schedules complicate incident response. It’s important to know how and when to bring in the right expertise if a crisis emerges.
By following best practices to prevent cybersecurity standards slipping before peak winter months, companies can enjoy the holidays without becoming victims of calculated cyber attacks. With swift and decisive action there is still time for businesses to prepare defences against holiday season hacks.
Transforming unified comms to future-proof your business
By Jonathan Wright, Director of Products and Operations at GCX
Telephony is not usually the first thing SMBs think about when it comes to their digital transformation. However, push and pull factors are bringing it up the priority list and leading them to rethink their approach.
Indeed, it is just one year until PSTN (the copper-based telephone network) will be switched off by BT Openreach. With a recent survey showing that as many as 88% of UK businesses rely on PSTN, many organisations’ hands are being forced to review their communications ahead of the deadline.
But even if this change for some is being forced upon them, the benefits of building a more future-proofed unified communications strategy far outweigh the associated challenges. Nearly three-quarters of employees in UK SMEs now work partly or fully remotely, indeed the highest percentage of any G7 country. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone systems are much better suited to distributed workforces as the phone line is assigned on a user basis, rather than to a fixed location.
And with more companies now integrating AI capabilities to augment their products and services – like Microsoft Teams Pro which leverages OpenAI for improved transcription, automated notes generation and recommended actions – the productivity-boosting benefits for users are only improving.
Making the right choice
For those companies that are seizing the opportunity to change their unified comms in 2024, what should they consider when making their decision?
- Choose platforms that will boost user adoption – User adoption will make or break the rollout of a new IT project. So due consideration should be given to what products or services will have the path of least resistance with employees. Choosing a service or graphical user interface (GUI) users are already used to, like Zoom or MS Teams, is likely to result in a higher adoption rate than a net new service.
- Embrace innovation with AI capabilities – While some of the services leveraging AI and Large Language Model (LLM) to enhance their capabilities are more expensive than traditional VoIP, the productivity gains could offer an attractive return on investment for many small businesses. Claiming back the time spent typing up meeting notes, or improving the response time to customer calls with automatically-generated actions, will both have tangible benefits to the business. That said, companies should consider what level of service makes sense to their business; they may not need the version with all the bells and whistles to make significant efficiency gains.
- Bring multiple services under a single platform – The proliferation of IT tools is becoming an increasing challenge in many businesses; it creates silos that hamper collaboration, leaves employees feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of communications channels to manage, and leads to mounting costs on the business. Expanding the use of existing platforms, or retiring multiple solutions by bringing their features together in one new platform, benefits the business and user experience alike.
- Automate onboarding to reduce the burden on IT – Any changes to unified comms should aim to benefit all of the different stakeholders – and that includes the IT team tasked with implementing and managing it. Choosing platforms which support automated onboarding and activation, for example, will reduce the burden on IT when provisioning new tenants, as well as with the ongoing policy management. What’s more, it reduces the risk of human error when configuring the setup to improve the overall security. Or, in the case of Microsoft Teams, even negates the need for Microsoft PowerShell.
- Consider where you work – Employees are not only working between home and the office more. Since the pandemic, more people are embracing the digital nomad lifestyle, while others are embracing the opportunity to work more closely with clients on-site or at their offices. This should be considered in unified comms planning as those companies with employees working outside the UK will need to choose a geo-agnostic service.
- Stay secure – Don’t let security and data protection be an afterthought. Opt for platforms leveraging authentication protocols, strong encryption, and security measures to safeguard sensitive information and support compliance.
Making the right switch
As many small businesses start planning for changes in their telephony in 2024 as the PSTN switch-off approaches, it is important that take the time to explore how the particular requirements of their organisations and how the changes to their communications could better support their new working practices and boost productivity.
Will your network let down your AI strategy?
Rob Quickenden, CTO at Cisilion
As companies start to evaluate how they can use AI effectively, there is a clear need to ensure your network is up to the challenges of AI first. AI applications are going to require your data to be easily accessible and your network will need to be able to handle the huge compute needs of these new applications. It will also need to be secure enough at all points of access for the different applications to end users’ different devices. If your network isn’t reliable, readily available and secure it is likely going to fail.
In Cisco’s 2023 Networking Report 41% of networking professional across 2,500 global companies said that providing secure access to applications distributed across multiple cloud platforms is their key challenge, followed by gaining end-to-end visibility into network performance and security (37%).
So, what can you do to make your network AI ready?
First, you need to see AI as part of your digital transformation, then you need to look at where you need it and where you don’t. Jumping on the bandwagon and implementing AI for the sake of it isn’t the way forward. You need to have a clear strategy in place about where and how you are going to use AI. Setting up an AI taskforce to look at all aspects of your AI strategy is a good first step. They need to be able to identify how AI can help transform your business processes and free up time to focus on your core business. At the same time, they need to make sure your infrastructure can handle your AI needs.
Enterprise networks and IT landscapes are growing more intricate every day. The demand for seamless connectivity has skyrocketed as businesses expand their digital footprint and hybrid working continues. The rise of cloud services, the Internet of Things (IoT), and data-intensive applications have placed immense pressure on traditional network infrastructures and AI will only increase this burden. AI requires much higher levels of compute power too. The challenge lies in ensuring consistent performance, security, and reliability across a dispersed network environment.
Use hybrid and multi-cloud to de-silo operations
According to Gartner’s predictions, by 2025, 51% of IT spending will shift to the cloud. Underscoring the importance of having a robust and adaptable network infrastructure that can seamlessly integrate with cloud services. This is even more important with AI as it needs to access data from different locations and sources across your business to be successful. For example, AI often requires data from different sources to train models and make predictions. A company that wants to develop an AI system to predict customer churn may need to access data from multiple sources such as customer demographics, purchase history and social media activity.
IT teams need to make sure that they are using hybrid cloud and multi-cloud to de-silo operations to bring together network and security controls and visibility and allow for easy access to data. Where businesses use multiple cloud providers or have some data on-premise, they need to be reviewing how that data will be used and so how to access it across departments.
Install the best security and network monitoring
It’s clear that as we develop AI for good, there is also a darker side weaponizing AI to create more sophisticated cyber-attacks. Businesses need end-to-end visibility into their network performance and security and to be able to provide secure access to applications distributed across multiple cloud platforms. This means having effective monitoring tools in place and the right layers of security – not only at the end user level but also across your network at all access points.
Being able to review and test the performance of your SaaS based applications will also be key to the success of your AI solutions. AI requires apps to work harder and faster so tasting their speed, scalability and stability, and ensuring they are up to the job and can perform well under varying workloads is important.
Secure Access Service Edge
The best way to ensure your network security is as good as it can be is to simplify your tools and create consistency by using Secure Access Service Edge (SASE). This is an architecture that delivers converged network and security as service capabilities including SD-WAN and cloud native security functions such as secure web gateways, cloud access security brokers, firewall as-a-service, and zero-trust network access. SASE delivers wide area network and security controls as a cloud computing service directly to the source of connection rather than at the data centre which will protect your network and users more effectively.
If you haven’t already, extending your SD-WAN connectivity consistently across multiple clouds to automate cloud-agnostic connectivity and optimise the application experience is a must. It will enable your organisation to securely connect users, applications and data across multiple locations while providing improved performance, reliability and scalability. SD-WAN also simplifies the management of WANs by providing centralised control and visibility over the entire network.
As we head towards the new era of AI, cloud is the new data centre, Internet is the new network, and cloud offerings will dominate applications. By making sure your network is AI ready, by adopting a cloud-centric operating model, having a view of global Internet health and the performance of top SaaS applications, IT teams will be able to implement their company’s AI strategy successfully.