Seven tech trends for 2023

From tens of thousands of redundancies at Silcion Valley’s tech giants to ChatGPT taking over the world, it’s been an eventful year already. Here’s our look what’s behind the trends that will dominate the techscape in 2023.

Security, security, security

The security challenge will only intensify in 2023. Orange Cyberdefense notes massive efforts by some nation states to improve the security posture of businesses; some have already taken place and these will continue. That takes work. The nature of attacks continues to evolve in the new threat environment, while the biggest targets remain health, financial services and tech; but despite this work, security events continue. We have already seen data breaches hit 42% more U.S. victims.

Security spending will become an existential necessity during the year – Gartner expects global spending on security and risk management to climb 11.3%. This also extends to solid data management practices. Ransomware and cyber extortion will continue even as attacks against the 75 billion connected IoT devices intensify. It’s a serious matter. Orange Cyberdefense’s Security Navigator report tells us its clients faced an average of 34 confirmed attacks every month, with larger entities particularly impacted. The report also reveals some positive improvements as enterprise, government and law enforcement work more closely together to face these challenges.

AI is becoming mainstream

Microsoft’s huge investment in OpenAI continues the company’s ambition to build Azure “into an AI supercomputer for the world,” the company says. It isn’t just Microsoft. VC investment in Generative AI has climbed 425% since 2020 as investors see it as a path to innovation across a range of industries, such as software development, marketing, enterprise content management, cybercrime and beyond.

The idea that AI can create unique or useful work based on gathered data has profound implications across multiple industries, and third-party developers are eager to exploit it. While AI has been around to some extent for some time, this inflection point shows that in 2023, AI goes mainstream. But as the tech enters public life, you must expect a growing demand for AI to become accountable for decisions it takes, and (IDC warns) “Approach this fascinating space with the right balance of curiosity and scepticism.”

Toward the low-skill tech economy

There still aren’t enough skilled tech staff to meet demand in a range of roles, including DevOps, CX, cloud, automation, data management and cybersecurity, which is driving tech talent costs higher. As enterprise IT works to mitigate this challenge, expect spending on hyperautomation, composable business and no-code development technologies to increase, as business explores different solutions to help navigate the staffing challenge. Gartner predicts hyperautomation and composability will drive low-code technology adoption to increase 20% across 2023. “Organizations are increasingly turning to low-code development technologies to fulfil growing demands for speed application delivery and highly customized automation workflows,” said Varsha Mehta, Senior Market Research Specialist at Gartner.

Virtual reality hits the real world; will it matter?

With strong emerging use cases in emergency response, collaboration, healthcare, education and B2C, collaboration, medical, warehousing and a growing number of additional tasks, Microsoft, Meta and Apple have invested billions in augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR). There may be challenges to realization of the expectation. Microsoft recently cut staff in some AR-related teams, while Apple may be scaling back some plans. Everyone now expects Apple’s first AR glasses this year, but what will they achieve – will Apple convince consumers, enterprises users and developers of the benefit of these technologies? Will it raise a developer ecosystem vibrant enough to innovate on these platforms? At time of writing, Gartner thinks just 40% of enterprises will use these technologies by 2027. IDC, however, predicts growth will accelerate as hardware and software improves and new use cases emerge. Flash in the pan? Rapid market evolution? Whatever the outcome, these experiences will require robust networks and contribute to exponential growth in bandwidth demand.

Environment, sustainability and CSR

Orange knows its enterprise customers see energy efficiency (33%), supply chain (20%) and operations/maintenance (18%) as among the biggest CSR challenges they face. We also know customers care, which means businesses that don’t embrace smart manufacturing and green tech may lose sales – one study claims 72% of customers will switch to brands that support recycling. Growing awareness of climate change means enterprises failing to meet internationally accepted environment and sustainability goals can expect to be punished, Gartner warns.

Technology can help. For example, Blockchain can optimize efficiency in supply chains while connected sensors in data centers help manage energy consumption. The energy crisis will inspire additional investment in green and renewable energy, while with the support of technology, manufacturing accelerates its switch to using recycled materials across supply chains. 2023 sees accelerated progress toward new energy sources and a circular economy.

Smart networks as a service

IDC predicts that “By 2023, 40% of enterprises will benefit from optimized operational efficiency, enhanced security and reduced network costs by leveraging SD-WAN and security for cloud-managed networking and security.”

Across large to medium enterprises, these needs will drive additional SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) and SSE (Security Service Edge) deployments to secure corporate data from chosen enterprise SaaS and IaaS services to edge device. Enhanced by continued adoption of zero-trust and password-free biometric and hardware key authorization, the old security perimeter will become increasingly virtualized but provide critical defense. Gartner claims 80% of enterprises will unify web, cloud services and remote-resource access using SSE by 2025. The SASE market is expected to hit $4.8 billion this year as organizations accelerate adoption.

SaaS market consolidation continues

Software-as-a-service spares enterprise customers from becoming over-reliant on expensive on-prem. Today, 80% of companies use at least one SaaS application, and the concept expanded to include PaaS and IaaS. Evolving need and business models mean the sector currently represents around one-third of cloud spending and should reach $195 billion value in 2023. This success has increased competition in the market, which translates into more competition over price. The challenge is that as larger SaaS players continue to scoop up smaller firms in the space, they will attempt to build up market differentiation, creating the danger that new non-interoperable siloes may evolve, effectively recreating some of the problems SaaS sought to solve. At the same time, this rapid consolidation means great ideas are introduced and quickly acquired – think Zoom’s Five9 purchase. That’s great news for innovators in SaaS, who can anticipate highly profitable returns, though it’s open to question if the convenience and flexibility of SaaS will be maintained as “Super SaaS” services with comprehensive product catalogs emerge. Will business exchange its reliance on expensive on-prem solutions to becoming reliant on equally costly SaaS goliaths?

Find out what trends and threats will dominate cybersecurity in our Security Navigator 2023; learn how to embrace hyper-automation in this whitepaper; and read about Digital Infrastructure, our vision for the future of enterprise infrastructure.

Jon Evans

Jon Evans is a highly experienced technology journalist and editor. He has been writing for a living since 1994. These days you might read his daily regular Computerworld AppleHolic and opinion columns. Jon is also technology editor for men's interest magazine, Calibre Quarterly, and news editor for MacFormat magazine, which is the biggest UK Mac title. He's really interested in the impact of technology on the creative spark at the heart of the human experience. In 2010 he won an American Society of Business Publication Editors (Azbee) Award for his work at Computerworld.