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IBM Outlines Trends to Watch Out for in 2023
December 28, 2022 News


Written by Martin Dale Bolima, Tech Journalist, AOPG.

The new year not only ushers in new beginnings but also marks the start of new trends that may very well shape the future. That is true even in the world of enterprise tech, and that is why IBM recently outlined what it sees as the trends that will define 2023 and beyond.

Paul Burton, General Manager, Asia Pacific, at IBM, discussed these key trends in a hybrid media panel in early December, together with Sandra Ng, Group Vice President and General Manager, APJ Research, at IDC, and Daniel-Zoe Jimenez, Vice President, AP Research, also at IDC. The three talked at length about the top tech trends in Southeast Asia, in particular, and in the context of an increasingly digital-first new normal hastened by COVID-19.

“We are getting into this new era because of three years of digital acceleration around the world and this region, and the defining characteristic of this new digital era is ‘contextualisation’ and ‘real-time at scale,’” explained Ng. “This is going to be very important for organisations to drive in this new digital era. More than 60% of total spending is coming from digital transformation technologies. Only projects with very low digital business impact can be delayed.”

Organisations, though, can ill afford to ratchet up their digital spending without knowing what is in store for the future. To find out, here are five key trends that businesses will have to watch out for in the coming year, so they can maximise every amount they spend on digital technologies:

Trend 1: Pervasive AI and Embedded Automation Are a Must

Spending significantly on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation does not guarantee success, especially if they are implemented in silos and are applied sub-optimally. But as Burton emphasised in the panel, “automation is becoming increasingly imperative for businesses” because there is an apparent lack of skills in driving digital transformation. So, to make sure automation actually works, Paul recommends that organisations start by identifying key business processes and then reimagining how to automate each using available technologies.

Trend 2: Getting More From Data Using AI

Data is vital but it is useless if an organisation cannot do anything about it. But that can be tricky given the sheer volume of data companies collect. The solution in this case, according to Burton, is deploying AI to make sense of data.

“You need access to data so that you can leverage it for insights. You need good data architecture, a sound data fabric, ability to leverage data, draw inferences and then take decisions. Successful companies adapt quickly to their environment, learn and grow the quickest,” Burton explained. “That is 100% based on interpreting and learning from data. “Deploy good data architecture, ensure you have ubiquitous access to all data in the enterprise, have a baseline of your current performance and monitor the metrics to check if you’re improving or not, so you can steer accordingly.”

Trend 3: Embedding Cybersecurity Into the Business Ecosystem

Per data from the IDC, online and mobile scams have been way up these past three years, and this underscores the need for organisations to fortify their cybersecurity. In response, businesses will need to invest more in security and compliance regulations and make them part of the entire business ecosystem.

Organisations can do that by institutionalising cybersecurity education for everyone, conducting vulnerability assessments using AI or automation, connecting cybersecurity with analytics and adopting the zero-trust paradigm. In other words, Burton advises companies to “have threat management, identity management and data security” enhanced by both AI and automation.

 Trend 4: Sustaining Sustainability

Sustainability is beyond the buzzword stage; it is now a mandate that every organisation must follow. Unfortunately, businesses are unlikely to drive their sustainability performance if they do not have a baseline to use as a reference. This is why IBM solutions such as Envizi will prove handy, as they can assist organisations in automating data collection and consolidation and in producing an ESG scorecard that will distil the company’s ESG performance into real numbers.

Moreover, Burton highlighted how technologies such as AI and automation can help organisations lower the inputs they are using for a unit of output, thereby lowering energy consumption, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and keeping the supply chain steady.

Trend 5: Enabling a Digital-First Workforce

According to Burton, “Fewer people [are] entering the workforce and of the people entering, fewer have the skills necessary to drive digital transformation forward.” And since this has been occurring over the past 10–15 years, there is now a significant digital skills gap in the region that needs to be addressed. Automation, Burton pointed out, is a key solution in this case, particularly when mundane, repetitive tasks are involved.

But while automation can help mitigate this digital skills shortage, organisations will still need to keep training their workforce. And, again, IBM can help in this regard, as it has been actively providing digital skills training for students and employees alike. The ultimate goal is to have AI and automation technologies augmenting a digitally skilled and capable workforce.

Why These Trends Matter

Not coincidentally, the five trends outlined by IBM have a direct impact on ensuring business velocity, cost reduction and resilience. Business velocity, according to Burton, is being able to execute business processes faster, with repeatability but with less variation—something that can be achieved with AI and automation.

AI and automation can also reduce costs as technologies are deflationary—meaning, they can help reduce expenses significantly. The more business leaders understand this deflationary feature of technology, the likelier they are to leverage other available technologies apart from AI and automation.

Finally, keeping in mind the aforementioned tech trends will allow organisations to craft their technology architecture in a sensible, holistic manner—allowing them to adapt quickly to technological changes and keeping them from making shortsighted, inflexible decisions when it comes to tech.