Analyst Mark Hillary On Results Of 2022 And Predictions For 2023

December 15, 2022  |  Mark Hillary

It's worth looking back at some of the predictions that I made last year.

I know that we recorded a similar video in December last year. We were looking forward at 2022. Back then, I was talking about AI, Predictive Analytics, Gig CX, wearable technologies, the metaverse, and greater control over technologies. And I think it’s just worth picking out a couple of different points.

On the control point, we’ve seen a real intense interest in greater control over different social networks. Twitter is a great example because of the purchase of Twitter by Elon Musk and him suddenly changing a lot of policies to do with things like content moderation. Suddenly, everybody is interested in what role all of these technology networks play in our life and what does it mean when suddenly people can share anything on these networks. And we’ve seen a lot of people exploring different networks whereas before they’d kind of settled on just a few. So that’s very interesting.

There was a prediction there around the metaverse and I think what we’re still seeing is the virtual reality headset sales are still in the millions but there’s billions of online users. Certainly, we need some sort of baby steps towards that becoming more of a reality.

As for the prediction around Gig CX, we’re definitely seeing that play out. There seems to be more players in the market and what is really interesting to me is that most of the companies out there that are using technology for customer service type functionality are now exploring this. So you can go to all of the big players and they’re talking about Gig CX becoming a reality.

This year, AI has exploded into the general public’s perception. It has become more of a reality whereas if you talk to the general public about AI, quite often they’ll talk about science fiction and movies, and stuff like that. But they’re starting to accept it and I think that’s because you’re seeing things like Lensa, the photo editing app – the ability to completely change photos, the ability to ask a system to draw you a picture, to be able to draw you a picture of a chair in the style of Picasso. So people are playing with this technology now and seeing the kind of power it’s got.

Chat bot as well is showing that you can have a conversation with a chat engine now and actually have quite detailed conversations. I was actually asking the chat engine about James Joyce, the author, and we were having a conversation about the author of famous books. You can see that the AI is getting so much more powerful now.

Web 3 I think is another big trend that has exploded this year. That’s the idea that we’re seeing more decentralization of data and technology that’s being shared internationally. I think, ultimately, this will move towards people having more control of their own data rather than us relying on YouTube or Facebook or Twitter to be running these networks. There will be more of decentralized networks where people have responsibility for their own data.

Another important point that has become very visible this year is ESG [Environment, Social, Governance], much greater focus on social policies of companies, corporate governance, and the environment. Neo Group published a report about ESG in the technology industry around the middle of this year and I think that what was very interesting from the Neo research was that ESG has been accepted as important. All the companies are saying that we do this, we care about the environment and stuff, but culturally it seems that most of the management haven’t really bought into it. That’s the sort of a summary of my predictions from before and some of the points that I think that have really become important this year.

Some of them will transfer into 2023.

But if I’m trying to think about where we will see the most change or growth in the use of technology in the year ahead, I’ve listed four or five points where there could be considerable change.

I think the first will be around sustainability. When companies are engaging with technology partners, the question around sustainability will be there by default. Previously, it’s been there as a nice to have. We want to see companies are doing the right thing, but now you’re actually seeing that employees want to work for a company that values the environment, that has good corporate policies. Customers are also asking those questions now, most often with retail, because that’s a very obvious thing you can ask how are you selling this t-shirt for two dollars when it was made in Vietnam. So customers are asking these questions, employees are asking the questions of the company they work for, and investors are asking the same questions. If you’re going out into the market and looking for investment, then people won’t invest in your company [without ESG]. So I think that that is going to be an important point this year, because every time that a company needs any kind of digital transformation, they’re going into the market and finding partners that can help them, and they will want sustainable partners. So that’s one trend.

I think the economy is going to be another trend. What kind of technology are we using to manage the downturn? There are many major economies around the world that may be entering into a recession across Europe and the United States. They may enter recession or may just dodge it, we don’t know yet. But certainly inflation is very high, interest rates are high, everybody is expecting a sort of period of one or two years of uncertainty. So I think that we’ll see a lot of focus on things like cloud storage, applications on the cloud, using the cloud to manage costs, and switching upfront costs into ongoing costs, so OpEx instead of CapEx. Using data analytics, being able to study consumer behavior, and actually get closer to your customers by knowing what they want almost before they want it. I was just talking to a big business process outsourcing company this morning and they were saying to me that every retailer they go in and talk to has all of this data, like Data Lakes. They can see everything what every customer is doing, whether they like a product or don’t like a product, where are they are browsing, what they are looking at, what they avoid, and rarely do. These retailers really make good use of all this information that they have. I think that it will be a laser focus because of the downturn. We have this data, we know what the people want.

Things like improved self-service using technology will get more attention this year as well. So things like Alexa and Siri, integrating this kind of tools that people are using with information about products. I suppose a good example is, if I go out and buy a new smart TV and then I’m trying to set it up at home, the traditional route to getting help might be calling LG or Samsung or whatever brand it is and trying to ask for help. The difference now is that customers are just going to Google or Alexa and they’re asking for help. So I think that will be a change as well.

Like Peter mentioned about working from home, the distributed workforce will be a big trend this year. I think the big difference now is that we’re over the Covid emergency. During Covid, everybody just had to do it and just had to make it work. Now we’re seeing a kind of baking in of policies, how regulators are going to allow this to work, how we’re going to acknowledge the compliance with that regulation. So it’s becoming permanent, whether it’s hybrid or 100 percent work from home, but that completely changes the approach to security. I think that brings us back to AI again because we’re going to be relying on AI intelligent security to spot anomalies on the network rather the very traditional kind of idea that if you’re inside the office and you’ve got a firewall, then anybody inside the office must have permission to be, so they can pretty much do anything on the network. We have to throw away all those old kind of data protection standards and really push into a sort of much more intelligent and distributed model.

I think IOT is going to start getting more interesting. One of the things holding back the Internet of Things has been the 5G rollout. I don’t know about where you are but certainly here in Brazil when I’m in Sao Paulo, I can use 5G anywhere and have no problem. I visited the UK recently and I don’t think my phone switched to 5G once even, though I was in many different cities. I think that that’s what’s really holding this back because if you want to build Digital Twins or do Estate Management, Property Management, all this kind of stuff, we’re having a lot of sensors all in one building. For that to work, you’ve really got to be able to use a 5G network. I think that eventually we’re going to start seeing this becoming more important and things like Digital Twins will become much more visible.

Finally, we mentioned metaverse and I think that what we’re really going to see is a sort of baby steps into the metaverse but without using virtual reality. Meta, the company that was previously Facebook, they had an intention or an idea that everybody would move into the metaverse using the headsets. I think that it was a bit naive of them to expect that people would go out and spend a thousand dollars on a headset. When you’re talking about gaming, people are having fun inside games and there’s a reason for you to go and enter into that world. If you enjoy Fortnite or Roblox or whatever, then you love spending time in that environment and you might invest in a great PC and headset or whatever. When you’re just talking about it as a virtual world where you’re going to meet your friends or just go shopping, it’s very hard to explain why you really need to do that when you could actually just go outside and meet your friends and go to a bar or go to the real shops. So selling the metaverse as a virtual environment has been very difficult for these kind companies. I think that we will get Virtual Worlds and be able to spend time in there but we will need to be able to do it without the virtual reality or the investment in virtual reality, because not everybody’s got this kind of kit at home yet and not everybody wants to sit around spending all day in that kind of environment.

Continue discovering what the future will be like. Peter Ryan is one of the foremost experts in customer relationship management and in this vlog, he shares the results of 2022 and ideas for the next 2023 in business and technology. A video discussion between Mark and Peter wraps up our series of predictions for 2023.

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