What’s in Store for the Digital Enterprise

Next week sees the start of CCS Insight’s Predictions for 2024 and Beyond event — three days of online discussions, presentations and interviews showcasing our expectations for the connected world over the next few years.

Day Three of the event, Thursday 12 October, explores some of our predictions for digital enterprises — businesses capable of capitalizing on the latest technology advances, giving them operational flexibility, intelligence, security and management control.

In several sessions in a one-hour broadcast, we’ll ask what it means to be a digital enterprise and what it takes to transform into a successful one. The answer, of course, to both questions is different for many firms and dependent on their starting point. The more pertinent question is how organizations can ensure they navigate the most direct course with minimal distractions and detours to arrive at their digital destination.

With hindsight, many enterprises will — if they’re honest — have examples of transformations that haven’t gone quite as planned or achieved what was expected. There will have been missed opportunities as well as those successfully grasped. Wrong forks in the road may well have been taken with technologies and products, diverting away from those proven to be more relevant in meeting strategic needs and longer-term prospects. Our predictions and the explanations behind them will steer viewers onto the right path as the workplace — and the workforce — changes.

The Meteoric Rise of AI

Reviewing this year’s predictions, I’m struck by how many touch on the subject of artificial intelligence (AI). Of our 85 predictions for 2024 and beyond, 30% cover AI technologies. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s been impossible to avoid the deafening noise of announcements of AI-backed products and particularly generative AI, which is being embedded into everyday workplace tools such as Microsoft Office and Google Workspace. In the space of a year, AI has moved from the realm of science fiction to an integral part of enterprises’ digital transformations.

The speed of AI’s progress to centre stage will have caught many off guard. Enterprises will need new rules of engagement, new roles and new guidelines to support new AI and generative AI operations. We predict that AI oversight committees become commonplace in large organizations by 2024, and that by the following year proficiency in generative AI is a normal feature of job adverts for knowledge workers.

Our Employee Workplace Technology Survey, which examines attitudes toward changing ways of working, workplace technologies and brands, aims to understand employees’ use of technology in the workplace. Preliminary responses from this year’s survey indicate that AI is already starting to have a positive effect on employees. More than one in three people are now using AI at work every day or several times a week, with a whopping 75% of those claiming that it’s improved their productivity and the quality of their work.

Harnessing the power of this technology responsibly requires clear and fair regulation. With regions around the world at differing stages of the process and favouring different approaches, this is concerning for organizations looking to maximize the benefits that AI can bring. Our survey indicates so far that lack of regulation is a top concern for businesses looking to use AI in the workplace, with respondents in the UK, Spain and the Netherlands ranking this over any other factor.

Generative AI will clearly have some positive effects, but it’s not a solution for all the challenges inherent in a digital transformation. Our panel discussion on Day Three looks at the technology’s “cold shower” in the coming years as the reality of cost, risk and complexity replaces the current hype.

The Price of Chips

AI isn’t the only agent of change in the digital enterprise. Economic uncertainty has been the defining feature of the decade so far, with the economic shock of Covid-19-related shutdowns and sudden demand for cloud capacity and devices to enable working from home, rising interest rates prompting changes to business strategies, as well as geopolitical tensions resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and increased trade embargoes on China disrupting global supply chains.

Given this economic uncertainty, we predict that enterprises will repatriate workloads to on-premises infrastructure in search of cost savings. Except for the GPUs needed for AI model training, the availability of servers has eased significantly over the past year, making the prospect of bringing workloads back in-house a logistical possibility. Doing so isn’t appropriate for every organization or every workload; however, steady-state predictable workloads can benefit from significant savings by moving back to on-premises or co-located servers. In a recent CCS Insight survey of approaches to telecom infrastructure and software, cost was the second-most cited (43%) consideration for determining where applications or workloads should reside, behind security.

Of course, cloud platforms will continue to innovate to win new customers and retain existing ones. Over the past several years, every hyperscale cloud provider has introduced virtual machines powered by Arm-based CPUs. For many scenarios, Arm-powered instances provide comparable performance at a lower cost, making them attractive alternatives to traditional x86-64 virtual machines.

CCS Insight predicts that 20% of enterprise workloads will be served by Arm and RISC-V chips by 2028. RISC-V, a royalty-free architecture, is gaining considerable popularity in Internet of things applications, but companies like SiFive and Ventana are exploring the use of RISC-V for servers. In China, many cloud platforms are pursuing rapid development of RISC-V CPUs for servers, as processors based on RISC-V can be produced domestically and supply would not be threatened in an embargo involving US technology, unlike CPUs from AMD, Ampere and Intel.

Navigation for Collaborative Convergence

Day Three of CCS Insight’s Predictions for 2024 and Beyond event will be broadcast at 10 AM and 5 PM (BST) on 12 October. My colleague James Sanders and I will offer our thoughts on enterprise market trends, followed by two panel sessions: one on workplace transformation and the other on connectivity and cloud computing. Geoff Blaber interviews John Smee, Senior VP of Engineering and Head of Wireless Research at Qualcomm, before the hour wraps up with a look at the burgeoning market for private mobile networks. Please see www.ccsinsight.com/predictions to sign up for this and other essential sessions. I hope to see you there!