CIOs share their tech predictions for 2023


These are the technologies that will become mainstream in 2023 and beyond.

Smarter, more integrated technology is already transforming everything from the devices we hold to how we collaborate with colleagues and even shop for groceries. As artificial intelligence and edge computing proliferate, bringing power and efficiency to countless industries and activities, South Africa's IT leaders share some of the technologies that are already emerging, but are poised to change our world even further in the near future.

Nkosenhle Ngongoma, group CIO at Ascendis Health, shares his top technology predictions, starting with the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in cyber security. This will play an important role in fighting against cyber crime attacks, he says, explaining that it will be used for automation of predicting abnormal activities on the networks and have built-in mechanisms to react to such suspicious threats.

“For example, an IP address that is suddenly sending or receiving large amounts of data in a certain period could be the hackers stealing data on your organisation, and the AI will block that IP and notify the IT Security team of the event,” he explains.

Second, he says, the increase in cloud adoption platforms has created a need for more industry-based cloud platforms where industries in the same sector can leverage well-developed and ready-to-use cloud platforms that are a perfect fit for their industries. These will save time and money on development, customisation and configuration of such applications, and speed up time to implementation so companies can realise value immediately.

Third, he says platform-based engineering tools are on the rise – the tools and capabilities made available for use by software developers, testers, business analysts and end users. These tools enable users to be able to develop their own applications by either following a few wizards or through a drag-and-drop process. This will free up time for developers, and enable users to increase their productivity by creating and using applications that fit their processes.

Imperial’s Cobus Rossouw, executive vice president: digital and IT, anticipates that the users of information technology in business (thus the customers of technology departments) will demand increasing value at lower costs. A shift from data to information to insights will further accelerate, with beneficiaries expecting (internal and external) technology providers to deliver their promises. The global battle for technology talent will continue, with people retention and sourcing increasingly dependent on their work content and environment.

“Our simple reality is that as more digital and IT capabilities become available, the more business users expect to benefit, and they expect this to happen at the same rate as they do in their private lives,” Cobus explains. “We live in very exciting times, with great opportunity for digital and information technology to transform businesses, but we are still constrained by organisational inertia in sourcing the right talent and to adjust to the environment to unlock value.”

Gartner has also released its predictions for the top 10 strategic technology trends in 2023. These predictions support the comments made by our CIOs, particularly regarding AI. Gartner recently released their findings on the top emerging technology investments based on a survey of global CIOs who have either already deployed or plan to deploy them in the next 12 months, with AI/machine learning coming out on top at 49 percent.

For Faith Burn, CIO at Eskom, these are the technologies that stand out the most, and will impact the way we live and consume locally and abroad:

  1. Electric cars for consumer use – although electricity supply is challenging.
  2. Data analytics and artificial intelligence and machine learning for business decision-making.
  3. Robotics – increased use of robotics process automation but also increased use of robotics like chatbots.
  4. AI digital assistants will start removing the need and reliance on internet browsing and become the proxy for this – the internet will effectively become something that only AIs interact with directly and feed the gathered information to us – this may be a surprise.
  5. Sky computing – enabling multi-cloud application development.

The rockstar of AI

For Yunus Scheepers, CTO at Silverbridge, ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot that has risen to prominence since its most recent version was released in November last year, is top of mind.

“One area I see rapid advancement in, in the near future, is natural language processing using advanced models like ChatGPT, which is currently the rock star of AI,” he says.

“I think companies are going to start scrambling to figure out how they can use it. I’m not sure it’s commercially ready yet; it seems to be struggling from a capacity perspective, but with Microsoft pumping huge amounts of money into it and creating an Azure PaaS service, I think it’s going to become capable quite quickly.”

Bringing things a little closer to home, Yunus believes that technologies that will be a focus for South Africa will be in the energy space (considering our current electricity challenges), 5G (because we have to – limited spectrum), and non-petrol/diesel driven vehicles (which seem to be a government prerogative).

CX and addressing the energy crisis

As far as networks are concerned, Sturrock and Robson’s Group IT manager Nazeem Aberdeen expects the migration of networks to a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) platform, will be the next obvious move in 2023.

But what about customer experience? “Organisations are streamlining and optimising a total experience solution including customer experience (CX), and employee experience (EX) as well as user experience (UX),” he says.

Nazeem shares Yunus’s sentiments on AI and energy-related tech. “With ChatGPT coming to the fore, AI will no doubt take centre stage with business implementing software/hardware with learning and process automation: further enhancing and understanding user behaviour,” Nazeem explains.

“Based on South Africa’s current environment, [there will be] a drive to find sustainable energy sources. And a further need for business hybrid – work-from-home for users.”

Diving into the immersive virtual world of the metaverse, Jason van der Watt, group CDO at InsideData, believes the metaverse is one to watch, and is already quite popular overseas with some experimentation locally in the financial services sector, namely Nedbank’s ‘Ubuntuland’, Africa’s first metaverse.

However, Jason struggles to see it becoming highly marketable until affordability (high data costs) of internet and devices have been drastically reduced.

“Based on our current challenges, I believe that there will be a focus on energy efficiency, but it will be two-fold,” Jason says. “Considering the uncertainty of the grid and very little government direction, I believe that the ‘electrical footprint’ of devices will be a consideration in tech companies that have a high reliance on uptime.

“Secondly, alternate energy is important (solar specifically), but this is mostly common knowledge at this point,” he adds. “What I have not seen is systems that focus on giving you an extremely detailed view of your electricity consumption at almost at a device level and managing that. Imagine being able to determine that there is a fault on a device (geyser for example) by picking up that it is using too much or too little power.”

In the end, CIOs agree that ignoring the most pressing issues, as well as the technologies that can help mitigate them, such as the current electricity crisis, would be a very ill-informed or misguided move, particularly on the part of the government. From a business standpoint, not using AI and machine learning technologies, as well as a lack of focus on customer experience, would be equally damaging to organisations.

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