As the new year approaches, companies must look to the past to gain a clear view of the horizon. Then, after looking in the rearview mirror, they can accurately assess the present conditions, allowing them to predict what’s to come. From there, they can update their existing processes with new tools and solutions as they work toward building a future-proof business model.
Below, we’re diving into the top technology trends of 2024. Based on what we’ve seen in recent years, we’ll cover the tools, strategies, and processes small and midsize businesses (SMBs) should consider adopting to stay afloat in a world where the digital transformation moves faster every year.
So buckle up and find out why you should pay attention to these trends as you support, secure, and grow your business in the coming year.
Top Trends to Watch Out for in 2024
From artificial intelligence (AI) to advanced cybersecurity, the past few years have seen many technological breakthroughs. Below are eight trendy areas that are vital for SMBs to pay attention to in the coming year as they look to promote simplicity, security, collaboration, and profitability.
- Artificial Intelligence
There’s no doubt about it: AI dominated the headlines in 2023. ChatGPT launched in late 2022. Immediately, it spread like wildfire across industries, from marketing to customer service. Now, the platform has more than 100 million weekly users.
However, it’s not just chatbots at the center of the AI revolution. Other forms of generative AI, like OpenAI’s DALL-E 2 and GitHub’s Copilot, are helping businesses to streamline their content creation and software development, alongside AI cybersecurity tools that are being used to detect threats, analyze code integrity, and issue software patches.
There are many valid fears about AI usurping the role of human labor. But when doing so purposefully, businesses can harness AI to benefit their employees. In 2023, this was a huge trend as owners used AI to accomplish many menial, routine tasks — like scheduling, code audits, or compliance reviews — and left employees to work on more creative, human-oriented tasks.
Reports show that 93% of small businesses recognize the value of artificial intelligence. The proof, as it often is, is in the pudding: In 2023, 48% of small businesses began using AI. This trend is expected to accelerate in the coming year, especially as new tools emerge to help companies with key tasks like:
- Data analytics
- Customer relationship management
- Workflow automation
- Cybersecurity and fraud detection
- Machine Learning
It’s not enough for SMBs to just make good decisions. Now, to stay ahead of their competitors as well as cybercriminals, they require the ability to make quality predictions. Thankfully, machine learning helps SMBs do just that.Machine learning (ML) programs allow computers to self-learn and optimize their performance as their data sets grow. For SMBs lacking resources, machine learning presents an excellent opportunity to reduce costs and perform critical IT, coding, and customer service tasks.
For example, e-commerce is a significant concern for SMBs. Even with robust data collection, it’s difficult to interpret the numbers to make confident decisions. Now, ML automatically takes data, analyzes it, and makes continuously informed recommendations to improve e-commerce workflows, such as taking purchase data and enhancing web services to drive more sales. Before, these insights were painful to uncover. With ML, they’re delivered automatically.
ML is still in its infancy. However, it’s vital to build a culture of continuous improvement. Because of this, it’s expected that SMBs will embrace ML’s predictive analytics on an even broader scale as we head into 2024.
In 2023, the average cost of a data breach was $4.45 million. Even more troubling, 60% of SMBs that suffer data breaches shut down within six months.
Cybersecurity best practices reinvent themselves each year. As cybercriminals continue getting savvier with their techniques, businesses must understand how to thwart new attacks. So in 2024, SMBs must learn how to build proactive cybersecurity approaches instead of reactive ones.
Businesses across industries are discovering the value of cybersecurity investments across servers, application programming interfaces (APIs), networks, and data caches as a vital part of protecting customer data and avoiding the catastrophic nature of cyberattacks.
A specific trend among SMBs is adopting more formal, proactive security plans. Currently, many businesses implement security measures on a patchwork basis rather than building a strategic approach from the ground up. However, with new security platforms and tools, businesses can address issues more quickly by using AI and ML to automate their defenses in 2024 and beyond.
- The Metaverse
According to Bloomberg, the metaverse market has a chance to reach $800 billion in 2024. While major companies like Meta, Google, and Apple dove headfirst into the metaverse, SMBs are only beginning to discover the potential benefits.
In 2024, SMBs will continue adopting metaverse tech in different ways, including:
- Using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) for product demos and more engaging advertising
- Optimizing remote collaboration and hosting virtual events
- Integrating AR to maintain connected workforces
Metaverse tech becomes more effective and accessible each year. In 2024, this won’t change, meaning SMBs should race to figure out how to incorporate it to reach new clientele, scale, and make remote work more efficient.
As a modern concept, automation dates back to the early 1900s in the automotive industry. Fast-forward to today, and automated tools perform countless digital tasks to cut costs, eliminate human error, boost productivity, and enhance the quality of goods and services.In 2023, SMBs widely embraced automation for customer experience, cybersecurity, event management, and content production tasks. The coming year will see automation become simpler to implement and manage, giving owners greater power to manage critical tasks.
For example, incident communication and ticketing are specific realms where businesses have adopted automation. Here, automated reporting software helps structure communication plans and alerts to reduce resolution times and increase customer satisfaction.
Ultimately, businesses recognize that automation presents massive potential. It’s estimated that 50% of cloud-based solutions will be automated by 2025, which means 2024 is a crucial year for SMBs to figure out how to leverage automation to strengthen their online platforms and stay ahead of the competition.
Building sustainable supply chains has been a running theme for decades. Soon, it’ll be a necessity.Government regulations and rising fuel costs demand businesses to flex their innovative muscles concerning sustainability. Every year, reducing carbon footprints by using sustainable packaging, reducing emissions, and lowering energy consumption becomes more imperative. For example, many SMBs are adopting innovative technology and IoT devices to monitor and automate their energy and water usage.
Sustainability is also directly tied to profit: About 60% of consumers rank sustainability as a primary criterion for their purchasing decisions, and many SMB owners recognize this. For example, cosmetic companies like Skincare Stacy promote their sustainability-first business model as a unique selling point. These ethics-based business approaches now attract many clients who value eco-conscious business practices.
- Quantum Computing
Big data is no longer reserved for big businesses. As data processing and research grow in importance every year, SMBs can use quantum computing for data analytics, security, and data encryption. From here, businesses can use their heightened processing capacity to accomplish tasks like:
- Optimizing delivery routes that cut down on fuel while shortening delivery times
- Analyzing warehouse stock to eliminate shortages
- Monitoring online systems to reduce downtime
In 2024, cloud-based quantum computing will become more accessible, allowing SMBs to power key business applications.
- Cloud Platforms
Over the past few years, cloud computing infrastructure investments have boomed. Now, more and more SMBs are jumping on board, and cloud investments are expected to continue their upward trajectory in 2024.
The reason? SMBs continue discovering the benefits of moving to the cloud. Gartner predicts that half of all IT expenditures will shift to cloud solutions by 2025, given that businesses continue using them to decrease their costs, enhance their security, increase their efficiency, and meet their sustainability targets.
Data storage is another critical element. Serverless cloud setups are better equipped to secure sensitive information while reducing the need for physical storage.
Additionally, platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solutions significantly reduce the hassle of managing digital infrastructure. They offer a range of benefits, like making software updates more straightforward and allowing SMBs to react more quickly to market changes.
Ready or Not, the Future Is Coming
Did you know that 43% of all cyberattacks target SMBs? There’s no avoiding it: SMBs must gear up to face the evolving threats in 2024. However, knowing where to begin isn’t always easy.
For rapid and direct results, it’s wise to partner with a trusted IT consulting firm to assess your needs and take advantage of expert recommendations on strategies, solutions, and products that can propel your business into the future.
ISOutsource is a one-stop consulting service for SMBs. We have a long history of analyzing businesses’ current needs and equipping them with future-proof advice so they can adopt IT solutions that result in tighter collaboration, higher productivity, and stronger security.
If you want to learn more about how our team can help you, feel free to schedule a call with one of our consultants today.