TECH IN Q1 2024


The pace of technological advancement this year was remarkable, notwithstanding speculation about a potential slowdown in 2024. Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI), in all its ChatGPT and CoPilot glory, took centre stage in many sectors, fundamentally reshaping the way we interact with new technologies. The Boston Consulting Group can be quoted as saying:


“To be an industry leader in five years, you need a clear and compelling generative AI strategy today.”


As we approach the impending new year, experts are forecasting upcoming tech changes and trends, providing insights into how SMEs can strategically leverage emerging tools and features to get their cybersecurity and IT game on. This week, we take a look at some of the anticipated tech trends likely to emerge in Q1 2024 and beyond.




As AI continues to expand its grip on what we do and how we do it, SMEs need to prioritise the responsible and ethical development and management of this technology. There is a growing emphasis on scrutinising AI systems to eliminate bias and ensure transparency. According to António Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations:


“Artificial intelligence brings the promise of improved access to healthcare, accelerated economic development and other gains. But we can also see dangers: a world with diminished privacy, less human agency and accountability, and where income inequality widens and access to work narrows for millions…If we are to harness the benefits of artificial intelligence and address the risks, we must all work together – governments, industry, academia and civil society – to develop the frameworks and systems that enable responsible innovation.”


That said, SMEs need to bear the responsibility of proactively addressing issues related to racial, gender, or other forms of prejudice in both training data and algorithms. AI privacy considerations are crucial, and businesses will be expected to establish clear data collection and usage policies, built on informed consent. By incorporating ethical considerations into AI practices from the outset, SMEs can pre-emptively avert public criticism further down the road.




Looking ahead into 2024, SMEs should implement robust frameworks for assessing all their AI systems and show that all models are fairly developed. Documenting AI practices will be significant for accountability and for fostering trust among discerning customers. Next year, government regulations focusing on ethical AI principles and auditing are likely to ramp up, necessitating compliance from SMEs. Companies cannot afford to overlook potential harms stemming from biased algorithms or opaque AI practices, something that is currently considered to be the elephant in the room. Strong in-house governance, coupled with a proactive stance toward eliminating discrimination from training data, will be indispensable. Put simply, responsible supervision and control of AI is poised to be a defining technology trend in the upcoming year.




Technological sustainability is set to become a top priority in the New Year. We’ll see a continued proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT), with sensors and trackers expanding to enhance the monitoring of emissions, energy usage, and waste in supply chains. Blockchain solutions will play a role in tracing the sustainability credentials of materials and products, ensuring transparency from origin to consumer. The integration of advanced analytics and AI will analyse data collected by IoT networks, identifying optimisation opportunities related to energy, water consumption, logistics, and more. Machine learning will pinpoint efficiencies to reduce waste and emissions without compromising quality or output. The ascendancy of smart manufacturing – manufacturing that deploys computer-integrated manufacturing, high levels of adaptability and rapid design changes, digital information technology, and more flexible technical workforce training – will be driven by AI and industrial IoT and will continue to gain momentum.




Within the energy sector, we’ll see the increased use of smart grids and meters for improved distribution management. Concurrently, the growth in renewable energy sources will be complemented by innovations in batteries and storage solutions, ensuring the availability of green energy at all times – or at least most of the time. In 2024, technologies like hydrogen fuel cells, carbon capture systems, and biofuels will also evolve. Carl Ennis, the UK CEO of Siemens, points out that we still face grassroot challenges when it comes to going completely green:


“Smart solutions, which are often what is required at the community level, require an intelligent systems-led approach. Not only to the technological solution but also to the commercial model that’s used. Today, we have already proven technology that will get us 80% of the way to net zero. Today’s challenge is, in fact, a commercial one; it’s one struggling with the complex decision-making that happens at the community level and town level.”




Transportation will emerge as another pivotal focus area in 2024, with shared mobility, intelligent traffic systems, EV infrastructure, and autonomous trucks and ships going all out to reduce harmful emissions. Through comprehensive monitoring and data-driven insights, SMEs can embed sustainability into their operations. Besides IoT in the energy and transportation sectors, technology will play a critical role in advancing the environmental agenda in 2024 and beyond. We don’t need a crystal ball and predict the direction that business and industry will take in the coming year.




The emergence of machine customers marks a significant paradigm shift in technology and business dynamics. These systems and algorithms possess the capability to independently make purchases of goods or services without any human intervention. According to Gartner’s predictions, by 2030, a minimum of 25% of consumer purchases and stock replenishment orders will be done by machines. Don Scheibenreif, VP analyst at Gartner, tells us:


“The machine customer era has already begun. There are more machines with the potential to act as buyers than humans on the planet. Each of these has a steadily improving ability to analyse information and make decisions. Every IoT-enabled product could become a customer.”


Scheibenreif is saying that trillions of pounds – equivalent to the GDPs of most nations – will progressively slide into the hands – or should we say processors – of nonhumans. This transformative trend presents vast opportunities, with the potential for machine-driven commerce to generate vast revenues by 2030. As such, companies would be wise to adapt their sales, marketing, and supply chain strategies to cater to these automated clients. Early adopters of machine customer integration will probably secure a competitive advantage.




On the demand side, companies can develop interfaces and platforms to facilitate seamless procurement of required parts, maintenance, and repairs by machines. This could involve implementing Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), smart contracts, and integrations. Understanding the usage patterns of algorithmic customers will be crucial for success. Opportunities also abound on the supply side, where businesses can create entirely new machine customer segments. Companies have the chance to identify potential needs in emerging technologies such as autonomous transport, smart cities, and advanced robotics. By tailoring offerings to suit machine consumption, organizations can tap into substantial new revenue streams in the years to come.




The advent of quantum computing raises concerns about the potential decryption of current encryption methods. Consequently, the development of quantum-safe cryptography and networks becomes indispensable. Recognising that cyber risks extend beyond IT systems, security awareness training throughout organisations takes on increased significance. Societal aspects related to disinformation and social engineering attacks also necessitate the implementation of effective PR strategies. Likewise, with quantum computing shaking things up, heightened regulations regarding cybersecurity obligations and reporting are anticipated. In terms of cost and size viability, quantum computers may only be within reach for SMEs toward the end of the 2030s and early 2040s. Nevertheless, small businesses must stay abreast of emerging technologies and threats while incorporating breakthrough technologies, alongside a focus on preparedness and mitigation, to navigate the cybersecurity trends of the future.




The landscape of cyber threats is becoming more sophisticated by the minute, marked by more frequent and costly attacks. This year, it’s estimated that cybercrime cost the world £6.3 trillion, with 80% of reported cybercrimes attributed to phishing attacks in the technology sector. In 2024, cybersecurity strategies must undergo evolution to fortify resilience against emerging risks. Capitalising on AI, machine learning, and automation is essential for enhancing cyber defences and response capabilities for SMEs. Next year, integrated security frameworks, encompassing detection, threat intelligence, and continuity planning, will blossom out of necessity. The inclusion of plans to ensure business continuity amid cyber disruptions will emerge as a core element of resilience. SMEs will need to adopt a multifaceted approach to their IT security simply to keep hackers at bay and counter the more devious routes to access sensitive data.




How can small businesses ensure that they get their cybersecurity into the swing of things in 2024? One way of doing this is to stick to the basics of cybersecurity. When SMEs focus on the basics, they are much less likely to be overcome by a cyberattack. These basics include always-on security with password policies, updates, systems inventory, monitoring, email security, comprehensive data backups and a lot more. Once these controls are in place, the risk of any cyberattack is reduced by more than 90% – providing they are rigorously adhered to. Zhero’s CEO and Founder, Izak Oosthuizen, gives us the low-down on cybersecurity basics in his latest best-selling book, You Don’t Need a £1 Million Cybersecurity Budget, out now on Amazon.




You Don’t Need a £1 Million Cybersecurity Budget is an invaluable tool for SMEs wanting to transform their cybersecurity and prepare for technologies that will take the front row in 2024. The book focuses on all the security issues that potentially confound small businesses, including those with backups, inventory and assets, IT policy, email security, password management, and much more. The exponential market growth of AI and IoT has also opened up a can of worms, not only for cybersecurity but for data protection, privacy, and compliance. Using his keep-it-simple-and-straightforward approach, Izak takes readers on an in-depth cybersecurity journey, showing them how to eradicate threats by embracing the basics of IT security. This easy read will support SMEs in their quest to implement ethical AI, adopt technological sustainability and prepare for the changes that machine customers will bring. Any cybersecurity questions for Izak? Get in touch here and now.

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