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Date: January 05, 2024

24 Trends Shaping 2024

24 Trends Shaping 2024

Voice&Data explores essential technologies and developments set to reshape the world in the coming year

The year 2024 is upon us, and as 2023 draws to a close, there is plenty to ponder in terms of what has come our way this year in the technology and telecom sectors and what we have missed out on. One thing that most industry experts agree upon is that the upcoming year should be one of India’s biggest years in tech. For instance, Anku Jain, Managing Director, Mediatek India, believes that India will “make its indelible mark on the global 6G ecosystem… bolstering networking, connectivity and communication (in) businesses.”

In 2024, satellite-based Internet services are set to connect remote areas, while also improving connectivity in mainstream circles.

Not to forget, though, are conversations around the entire artificial intelligence (AI) industry. Anil Chawla, Managing Director of Customer Engagement Solutions, Verint India anticipates that AI-driven personalisation and advanced analytics will play a pivotal role in redefining customer experiences. “These technologies will empower businesses to anticipate customer needs, deliver hyper-personalised interactions, and create immersive, seamless experiences across channels,” he says

AI, in no uncertain terms, was the biggest conversation driver across the industry through 2023 and it is expected to remain so next year as well. Going ahead in 2024, it is expected to become more ubiquitous, all-encompassing, affordable, proliferated, and perhaps even more controversial. These controversies could arise in the way AI gets regulated globally, as well as in how companies and engineers manage to tackle biases in AI algorithms.

Stakeholders of the global tech ecosystem, meanwhile, see several other areas that could define key trends in technology next year. Biju Thomas, Competency Head of Device Engineering, Tata Elxsi noted that beyond AI and 5G, Virtual and Augmented Realities (AR/VR) will play a pivotal role in tech trends in the coming year. He also added that while data will be the key currency for the entire global tech market, addressing cyber security concerns will play a major role across sectors through next year.

Increasing the accessibility of quantum power on the cloud will also enable developers to find real-world use cases for quantum computing.

Prakash Balasubramanian, Executive VP of Engineering Solutions, Ascendion points out that beyond 5G and AI, the year ahead can expect to benefit from metaverse experiences, Edge computing, Quantum computing and networks, and blockchain, among others.

Voice&Data takes a look at 24 pivotal technology trends that will have the highest impact on the world, next year. While some may eventually not play out, the following gives a fairly robust take across all industries and geographies in terms of the kind of solutions one can expect largely everywhere.

Maturity Of Generative AI

Generative AI will no longer be just a buzzword. Next year, generative AI will start showing the first signs of maturity—the tendencies of which can already be seen this year itself. For instance, data centre demand is on the rise, new AI models with better outcome potentials are being unveiled, and the industry as a whole is talking about all the opportunities in hand for actual business use cases. India’s $245-billion IT services sector, which includes behemoths such as Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys, has bet heavily on the maturity of generative AI, while global technology leaders have said that while the hype is likely to start slowing down, that is so because multi-million-dollar tech projects are likely to surface in this field of AI next year.

Affordable Ai Access For All

One of the reasons why generative AI has seen limited adoption so far is because the fundamental infrastructure behind the technology is expensive—making scaled deployments difficult so far. However, as scale begins to build, access to not just generative AI, but overall sophisticated AI technologies, will become more affordable. Overall, 2024 is the year when tech providers will look to rationalise the cost of AI services, while clients across industries will look to integrate AI in every field—operational infrastructure, cyber security, content and ancillary operations, and more. Mass-scale adoption is likely to go mainstream in nearly every industry next year, thereby making 2024 the year when AI became affordable—not just for large businesses, but for the smaller ones too.

An increasing number of common services will switch over to the use of passkeys, such as on-device biometrics and network-based authentication.

Ubiquitous 5g In India

While 5G services were officially rolled out in India in October 2022, within less than 14 months, the nation is expected to have more than 130 million 5G users as per the 2023 edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report. This growth has come with a steep upward curve, but this is not all. Come 2024, 5G is expected to become ubiquitous for both consumers and enterprises. At the recently hosted India Mobile Congress in October this year, technology providers showcased multiple 5G solutions for industrial and home use cases, signing multiple deals with telecom operators that seek to further expand their 5G coverage. Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman of Airtel’s holding firm Bharti Enterprises, said at the event that the telco will cover all of India with 5G services by March 2024. Going forward, it is clear that 5G will be everywhere next year.

Upswing In Satellite Services

Beyond 5G, both Jio and Airtel put their next bets on the satellite frontier. While Jio chairman Akash Ambani announced the launch of JioSpaceFiber at IMC in October, Airtel’s Mittal said that the operator’s satellite-based communications services were to be launched by last month. While all of this is obstructed by the exigency that is the allocation or auctioning of satellite spectrum, 2024 is the year when this entire space is expected to open up. Space is already the next frontier, and next year, satellite-based Internet services are set to connect remote areas, while also improving connectivity in mainstream circles. Aviation Internet should become accessible in domestic travel, too.

Expect autonomous technologies to start coming to mainstream car brands, instead of just being limited to luxury brands or super-niche vehicles.

Real-World Quantum Application

While generative AI essentially hogged all the attention in 2023, the next year is set to be significantly diverse. A large chunk of this will be contributed by quantum computing. Announced as a Rs 6,000 crore national mission by the Centre earlier this year, work on quantum computing is progressing at a steady pace—backed by central government agencies such as the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, as well as the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor. Industry experts have said that quantum communications is key to national security going forward, and pilot programmes that were begun in 2023 will start seeing real-world trials and implementations next year. Increasing the accessibility of quantum power on the cloud will also enable developers to find real-world use cases for quantum computing, thus laying the groundwork for this nascent, complicated piece of technology.

AI-Driven Cyberthreat, Solutions

Cyber security will have a tumultuous year in 2024 as well, as it has been happening every year for the past half a decade. But next year, the cyber war will be played out more by AI, than by humans. Case in point—the advent of generative AI has further lowered the bar for an increasing volume of convincing cyber threats, such as spear phishing or audio impersonation of voices. While all of these have severe implications, cyber security experts believe that generative AI can also be used as a weapon to take on the very threats that use AI to be developed. As a result, it will be interesting to see how cybersecurity experts use AI to tackle newer, more sophisticated threats that may also become mainstream.

Password-Free Consumer Services

While the AI tussle in cyber security is a unique battlefield in itself, the other innovation that is likely to become commonplace is a change to how we log in to most of our systems. Over the past five years, multiple cross-industry efforts, such as the FIDO Alliance, have been seeking to remove passwords in favour of more secure login mechanisms. An increasing number of common services are steadily switching over to the use of passkeys, such as on-device biometrics, network-based authentication and other procedures, as login methods—instead of passwords. In 2024, more mainstream services are set to let go of password-based logins, and choose alternate methods instead.

Revival Of Global Tech Spending

While AI, 5G and cyber security are imperative technologies that will form the core parts of multiple industries, non-core tech spending is also likely to see an uptick in the coming year. This will be crucial since global tech spending is what drives India’s mammoth IT services sector. 2023 was a slowdown year for the sector, thus having an impact on its contribution to the overall domestic growth of the country. Most industry stakeholders, as well as brokerage firms, expect 2024 to be the year when tech spending revives after a muted year that saw India’s top IT firms slash revenue growth. However, this revival will be driven by a ramp-up of core tech projects—inflationary concerns, as well as uncertainties driven by geopolitical conditions are likely to restrict broad-based risk-taking from US and European companies.

Expansion Of Multilingual Data

Businesses, however, will continue to become more and more about the data they hold. Come 2024, pretty much every business will become data parameters of multiple types. Going forward, business intelligence platforms will leverage the advent of mainstream generative AI to drive an increasing volume of structured data in every geography and sector. What this will do is generate data that can be read, analysed and assessed by algorithms not just in English, but in multiple non-English languages that include several Indic languages too. This will be a clear theme that will emerge next year and will be one to watch. Even the government is working on it—the Centre’s India Datasets Platform, announced earlier this year by Union Minister of State for IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, will play a key role in harnessing this data.

Shift in The 5G Smartphone Market

For consumers, 5G will be the single biggest factor to upgrade their gadgets in 2024—specifically, smartphones. Going forward, the market share of smartphones that support 5G will change drastically, as more brands have begun bringing 5G smartphones to the budget segments priced at around Rs 10,000. Any smartphone that is more expensive than this already comes with 5G support pretty much by default today. While IDC pegged the share of 5G smartphones in the September quarter’s shipments to India to be at 58%, by next year, the proliferation of 5G in the budget segment will significantly increase this—thus making 2024 the year when 5G smartphones go potentially mainstream.

Proliferation of Autonomous Tech

While it is understandably too early to say autonomous driving will go mainstream, 2024 is the year when semi-autonomous vehicles start becoming mainstream. Many mainstream cars in India last year saw technologies such as 360-degree cameras, remote connectivity, lane warnings, adaptive braking and hands-free parking. While these technologies are what constitute basic semi-autonomous driving technologies, the proliferation of these advanced technologies into the mainstream fold means that auto companies are becoming increasingly reliant on technologies to power their cars—and 2024 is likely to see much more of it. Expect advanced technologies to start coming to mainstream car brands as well, instead of just being limited to luxury brands or super-niche vehicles.

5G Boost for Industrial IOT

Automation in heavy machinery is not a new thing. However, going forward, the fourth industrial revolution will get a leg up thanks to 5G and its core competencies. The latter brings low latency connectivity to factory floors, assembly lines and other industrial setups, which in turn means that companies will be able to run a fully smart factory with an increasing amount of data output and fewer time gaps between when an incident happens on a factory floor, and when it is recorded by sensors. Enterprise 5G networks will be a clear theme for 2024, wherein such networks shall be set up by more industrial firms. In turn, these will create large economic opportunities to enable factory floor workers to switch to better, remote locations—and work in better conditions.

Boom Time For eSIM Adoption

A large part of the growth in industrial tech adoption, as well as the advent of connected and autonomous cars, will see a steadily increasing need for eSIMs across all sorts of devices. eSIMs are essentially the virtual counterparts of a physical SIM card and are imperative for anything to connect to a network wirelessly. Having eSIMs embedded into networking hardware will be the obvious way forward as both consumer and enterprise technologies become increasingly connected. In the long run, eSIMs will turn into one of the biggest growing segments driven by the demand for connectivity. In India too, this will be the obvious way forward—as connected hardware continues to grow.

Industrial use cases for Drones

While the development of drones has been coming along for multiple years, 2023 is the year when the industry saw multiple startups go public. Several drone adoption schemes also saw the completion of pilot projects, while many other government-backed schemes were introduced across agriculture and civil services domains. Going forward, 2024 is the year when such adoptions are likely to scale up after 2023 showcased that drone adoption and drone services in India can indeed be scaled—and it is no longer a small-scale sector. The coming year is when local drone manufacturing and development may also attract increasing component localisation, thereby adding more revenue to India itself.

Rise of no-code platforms

No-code application development is one field that has seen a strong surge of growth driven by generative AI. The latter, which helps generate code by using simple instructions written in plain text, is transformative. While natural language processing (NLP), a subset of AI, was already adding plenty of capabilities to startups creating no-code development platforms, generative AI is what will lend scale to no-code service providers. It will also rope in more clients, who will begin experimenting with the kind of application development that may in the long run democratise the entire realm of developer activities. For coders, no-code platforms expedite code writing and make the overall process very simple.

Uptick in prompt engineering jobs

To support the trend above, however, there will be a new segment of niche software engineers—who are already rising the trend ladder in 2023 itself. Called ‘prompt engineers’, these are software experts who understand how an LLM works, and subsequently use strategic text prompts to get diverse and accurate results. Prompt engineers often have by far the best industry expertise in generative AI, as well as a deep understanding of how specific algorithms work—and can therefore make the most of AI tools and applications to get the right generative AI results. Going forward, many firms are likely to experiment with prompt engineers, to get their own AI journeys going.

Surge in SMB cloud adoption

Cloud adoption is no longer a recent trend—over time, and especially accelerated through the pandemic, cloud adoption became common for all enterprises across the country. By now, even mid-sized private businesses in the country have, in some ways, experimented with migrating their business operations online. Larger companies, on this note, have moved their operations to multi-cloud platforms—in a bid to optimise costs and avoid downtime. Come 2024, small businesses are also expected to join the cloud bandwagon, as cloud services become imperative to the operating infrastructure of most industries. From financial services to machinery, engineering and retail, cloud adoption’s scalability will make it affordable enough to be adopted by all small businesses in India next year.

Growth In Data Localisation

Even though the Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act did not mandate it, data localisation will continue to become more commonplace—not just in the Indian context, but also beyond it. Most firms that operate globally will be cognisant that an increasing number of nations are in the process of framing, or have already introduced dedicated tech regulations catering to respective countries. In such times, for any business operating globally, it may become a significant operating expense to individually comply with every nation’s needs. As a result, data localisation will become common for most businesses next year, instead of upcoming regulations and the general course that the World Wide Web has taken.

Jump In Tech For Sustainability

Through all of these developments, one key theme that has risen to the forefront is sustainability. No longer a corporate afterthought, sustainability and the need to develop solutions for sustainable tech deployment have risen as a top business avenue around the world. In 2024, global regulations on climate change will enforce stricter rules on emissions and the impact on the operations of various industries. To keep up with this, technology will be the obvious way forward for industries to find solutions—such as using AI to optimise supply chain sourcing norms for commodities for a manufacturing company. Then, there are the technologies themselves, where sustainable solutions will be the key to making them efficient. All of this will happen next year.

Integration Of Ai In The Supply Chain

Right on cue to improve sustainability practices, a key part will be to make supply chain practices more efficient. To do that, a key factor will be in the use of AI. For instance, global product shipping is a clear practice that adds to emissions and is not the most efficient around the world. To improve this, AI can play a major role in reducing emissions during transit, making manufacturing and component sourcing itself more efficient, and finding the fastest ways to create a particular product thanks to a globally distributed supply chain. All of this will become possible due to AI, and in 2024, this will become an industry-standard practice. The foundation stones, such as German enterprise technology firm SAP’s rollout of AI into its products in November this year, have already been laid this year.

New Geographies for Chip Development

Chipmaking as an industry was so far largely concentrated in the US in terms of IP ownership and Taiwan in terms of chip manufacturing. However geopolitical concerns and conflicts have led companies as well as nations to make concerted efforts to diversify supply chains of chips. India has been a significant playmaker on this note, welcoming its first chip facility that was announced earlier this year by Micron. Going forward, chip development will expedite through 2024, with devices such as industrial appliances and networking hardware being key devices that will require indigenous chips to reduce dependence on other nations.

AI Influencers in Creator Economy

While rather far away from the trends above, AI influencers are already on the rise and going forward, the national marketing industry will continue to see larger and larger dollops of AI. From virtual influencers themselves that have added novelty to a crowded influencer market, to the proliferation of AI in the content that influencers make for themselves, AI will be at the centrepiece of this entire conversation. The proliferation of increasing intelligence will also lead to the creation of an alternate creator economy in the coming year, which will exist alongside human influencers with an already significant following. 2024 is the year when an increasing number of companies are likely to experiment with such technology, including in India.

5G will drive the fourth industrial revolution, enhancing automation, enabling smart factories, and creating new economic opportunities.

Ubiquitous Workforce Upskilling

The one common factor across all nations in 2024 will be workforce upskilling and include the involvement of AI or digital skills in various ways. Through these new technology subsets, workforce upskilling will offer both white-collar and blue-collar workers new skills to keep up with the requirements of a new world order where technology is involved in nearly every process of every industry. As a result, hourly-wage warehouse workers may soon become book-keeping supervisors, with machines largely replacing the manual brunt work. All of this will require individuals to continue to upskill themselves, and 2024 could be the year when more people take this seriously.

Revival of Immersive Metaverse

While metaverse has admittedly had a flat year, after being one of the biggest buzzwords of 2022, the next year could be where metaverse interest starts renewing in slightly advanced forms. Most brands have seen that a flat, 2D view of metaverse experiences is not entirely immersive in the true sense—it is because of this that the launch of the Apple Vision Pro headset was seen to be pivotal in the industry. As a result, 2024 could be the year when the first generation of truly immersive metaverse experiences are built and experimented with in terms of what value additions could do. Reviving tech spending across industries could be a major contributing factor to this.