This and four other trends and recommendations for the new year should bring some closure to what happened in 2022 …

If the last few years taught us anything, it is that the future is predictably unpredictable.

Amid the externalities stemming from mounting geopolitical tensions and the risk of a global recession we have seen organizations in the region adapt and even thrive. 

However, come 2023, businesses need to not only meet the evolving expectations of employees and their stakeholders, but to also ensure they remain relevant in an era that is hybrid, digital-first and constantly evolving.

What are the key business and technology trends in the new year and how can businesses embrace these new changes? Here are my recommendations and predictions:

    1. Cybersecurity and IT infrastructure must keep up with the evolving landscape
      Connections between people, devices and data are ever-expanding, with billions of open, shared, and accessible touchpoints multiplying in a hybrid work, cloud-first world. The network is the nervous system that allows everything to work together, and while it has created limitless possibilities, it has also introduced incredible complexity.

      As organizations and users become more distributed, the demand for ‘anywhere, anytime access’ to applications will require transformations of networks to deliver uninterrupted connectivity while maintaining security. While many business leaders in the region believe that having connectivity issues regularly is career-limiting for remote workers, a good number still need to build the right networking infrastructure to fix the problem.

      Businesses will need to modernize their IT infrastructure with SD-WAN technologies that will allow them to securely connect users, devices, IoT to systems, apps and data with unified management and security policy administrations. They need to also move away from stand-alone security toward a connected platform strategy that focuses on detection, response and recovery.

    2. Tap the new era of predictive networks to change how we define business agility
      Competing in today’s digital landscape means one thing — what can be delivered digitally, must be delivered digitally, and it must be always on. Applications are just the front door to an expansive digital landscape that is evolving and growing in scale and complexity.

      The key to delivering a great digital experience comes with having full stack visibility into the different data, system interactions, interdependencies and business metrics that are happening in real-time across the digital interface.

      Predictive network engines that can gather data from a multitude of telemetry sources and integrate them into different models to predict user experience issues will be powerful tools. They will help bridge the current gap between IT and business teams, and allow IT leaders to fix issues preemptively; and let business teams focus on agility and innovations that will win customers’ hearts.

    3. Physical spaces will be reimagined for inclusiveness in a hybrid work environment
      A 2020 survey suggested that 98% of meetings in the hybrid-work era will have at least one remote participant. However, with another survey showing that only 6% of meeting rooms and classrooms globally are video enabled, 2023 may see a knock-on effect on physical workspaces where every industry and company will be compelled to rethink their work environments — whether it is an office or healthcare facility — to foster more inclusivity for all workers.

      This will unfold through closer collaboration between IT, HR, and facilities to drive change: from integrating inclusive features such as AI-powered audio intelligence/background noise cancellation to equipping physical spaces with the right video conference devices for a seamless, secure hybrid collaboration, to updating employee policies and company guidelines to ensure all employees are fairly rewarded in the long run, regardless of where their chosen mode/venue of work.

    4. Private 5G and Wi-Fi 6 will revolutionize new Cloud, Edge and IoT innovations
      As more businesses in the region begin to realize the benefits of digitalization, we foresee a greater adoption of 5G.

      Furthermore, the combination of Wi-Fi 6 and 5G will pave a new future of connectivity for almost every industry, by providing three times more bandwidth and five times the speed of Wi-Fi 5. This is especially key for firms in sectors like manufacturing, smart factories and related production facilities.

      The power of these two technologies will allow businesses to monitor and manage thousands of connected assets. The inherent scalability brings the promise of large scale deployment of mobile robots and self-driving vehicles closer to reality. We can therefore expect more firms to be on the lookout for such technologies once the relevant spectrums and infrastructure are provided.

    5. Purpose will anchor everything that businesses do, with ESG issues underlining boardroom agendas
      Purpose will only become more relevant and central to businesses in the year ahead. According to Harvard Business Review more than half of purpose-driven firms surveyed reported that they experienced 10% business growth compared to only 42% of non-purpose-driven firms reporting similar growth.

      Instead of being a tick-the-box exercise, measuring the impact of each business’ purpose journey — especially in the area of social and environmental impact — will increasingly take center stage in corporate decision making.

      We will see more public and private partnerships to determine ESG reporting frameworks and disclosure standards as regulations and sustainability targets are set.

      Having a strong business purpose is key to attracting and retaining talent in the years ahead. And it is also good for the world as a whole.