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Digital Transformation Key Trends for 2024

Most CIOs recognize the essential role that emerging technology has in enabling digital business transformation. However, what they often don't know is how prepared their employees, IT systems, and internal processes are to embrace change.

Gartner has highlighted the six key trends that will have a significant impact on enterprise IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) organizations over the next 12 to 18 months.

"I&O leaders have little time, skills and budget to track emerging trends and the full impact of those on I&O," said Jeffrey Hewitt, vice president at Gartner.

Savvy leaders should apply the top trends within I&O for 2024 to identify which are most likely to impact their organization, and then implement effective actions in response.

According to Gartner's research, the top trends in 2024 are as follows:

Machine Customers

Machine customers are non-human economic actors that obtain goods or services in exchange for payment, such as virtual personal assistants, smart appliances and connected cars.

Gartner expects the number of machine customers to rise over time steadily and that by 2027, 50 percent of people in advanced economies will have artificial intelligence (AI) personal assistants working for them every day.

"There are strong upsides to machine customers that are driving interest and adoption in them, however, they come with challenges such as requiring a reworking of operating and business models,” said Hewitt.

I&O leaders should identify appropriate machine customer use cases, the technology processes and skills required, and build capabilities around digital commerce and Generative AI to align optimally.

AI Trust, Risk and Security Management

AI TRiSM supports AI model governance, trustworthiness, fairness, reliability, robustness, efficacy and data protection. I&O must implement and support the new forms of risk and security management that AI requires.

Gartner predicts that by 2026, organizations that operationalize AI TRiSM will see their AI models achieve a 50 percent improvement in terms of adoption, business goals and user acceptance.

"AI TRiSM improves AI implementation efficiencies and helps prevent the financial, regulatory, societal and ethical consequences of potential issues with AI," said Hewitt.

Augmented-Connected Workforce

Augmented-connected workforce is the intentional management, deployment, and customization of technology services and applications to support the workforce’s experience, well-being and ability to develop their own skills.

It accelerates onboarding and drives business results which has a positive impact on key stakeholders.

"This is a relatively new way of thinking for I&O which requires new skills and workflow views," said Hewitt. "It also requires collaboration outside of I&O and IT which takes specific focus, and sometimes executive involvement, outside of IT to achieve that engagement."

Continuous Threat Exposure Management

A CTEM program is an integrated, iterative approach to prioritizing potential threats and continually refining security posture improvements. Technology growth requires a new approach to dealing with potential threats.

This expands the attack surface and broadens exposure beyond the average IT environment. CTEM is a new approach that prioritizes exposures rather than centering on fixing all vulnerabilities.

"CTEM produces a shift from a preventative-only approach to more mature, strategy-augmenting-preventative controls with detection and response capabilities," said Hewitt. "Establish a CTEM team within I&O to cover on-premises infrastructure as well as cloud and edge vulnerabilities."

Democratized Generative AI

GenAI enables the democratization of knowledge and skills by enabling the use of conversation and natural language. A Gartner poll of 1,400 executive leaders found that 55 percent of organizations are in piloting or production mode with GenAI.

GenAI products are democratizing due to the confluence of cloud and open source. GenAI for I&O has two main aspects – the use of GenAI within I&O and the impact of GenAI on I&O.

"Democratized GenAI offers a new working paradigm and can present agility, adaptability and composability improvements for I&O," said Hewitt. "If it is overused or used unnecessarily, it can generate unacceptable costs and negative environmental impacts."

Nationalism Versus Globalism

Nationalism versus globalism consists of country-led initiatives to reduce dependencies on foreign products, talent and services.

International conflicts create a focus on more nationalistic views that push a more domestic approach to technologies which will put pressure on I&O teams to seek solutions that keep more technologies, resources and talent in their own country.

"There are many initiatives in place today that impact the focus of IT resources from a more global view to a more nationalist approach. Shifts in these initiatives can produce new risks for countries that are currently using providers outside their country," said Hewitt.

Gartner analysts believe that I&O leaders should identify dependencies and their risks and lead in the creation of action plans to deal with the potential impactful shifts that may occur in national regulations and policies that affect I&O.

That said, as I consider all these trends, I'm wondering how prepared each of my advisory consulting clients will be in 2024 and beyond. Business technology advances will continue to disrupt the status quo in many industries. Those leaders most prepared to evolve will always have the advantage over their peer group.

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