Artificial intelligence (AI) is not only taking centre stage at CES in Las Vegas this week, but it has once again topped technology predictions.
Insights from IT infrastructure and services company Dimension Data (DiData) anticipate AI will drive increased investment in disruptive energy supplies for data centre infrastructure.
AI took centre stage in 2023, with a wide range of tools, solutions and industries adopting the technology. The launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in November 2022 brought to public attention the power of generative AI technology. Since then, Google’s Bard, Microsoft’s Bing AI and Elon Musk's xAI have been launched.
In its 2024 technology predictions, DiData anticipates a mixture of new and established trends gaining traction across networking, edge computing, private 5G, data centers, and the cloud this year.
“2024 promises to be a pivotal year marked by ground-breaking trends that will reshape the digital future and open up extensive opportunities for our South African and the MEA region,” says Alan Turnley-Jones, CEO at Dimension Data South Africa.
DiData explains that data centre racks traditionally consumed around six to eight kilowatts of electricity. With the integration of AI technology, the density of power consumption has accelerated, leading to racks consuming anywhere from 50 to 100 kilowatts and beyond. “The expectation is that power consumption will double and triple in the coming years.”
The company anticipates that in 2024 more enterprises will work in close partnership with their energy providers to explore more sustainable options. “Tightening data centre regulations will accelerate this disruptive trend, as more governments and subscribers prescribe specific energy efficiency usage and/or supplies, to meet their own sustainability goals.”
The rest of DiData’s technology trends are:
- 'Dark NOC' will enter the lexicon of the networking world.
With the speed at which AIOps has advanced, the idea of a completely automated, lights out network operations centre (NOC) is quickly becoming an ideal. Over the next 12 months, networking companies will further embed AIOps into their broader operations to improve network quality, support engineers, and modernise infrastructures.
While automation lies at the heart of a ‘Dark NOC’, human talent will be key to making it a success. Network providers will need to focus on upskilling, as well as ensuring they have made the necessary preparations from a technological standpoint.
- Sustainability will be integral to all new tech solutions.
Sustainability has previously been identified as a top three driver of innovation and primary consideration in the IT procurement process. There will be much greater impact on which technologies IT teams pilot, invest in, procure and scale - particularly as regulations evolve, newly develop and tighten.
“On their path to net zero and nature-positive operations, enterprises will increasingly look to leverage new technologies like private 5G networks, to drive critical smart factory applications that contribute to ESG initiatives – from carbon mitigation to circular economy of infrastructure hardware. Greater pressure on IT suppliers will also help industries achieve their sustainable development goals and KPIs.”
- Optical networking will get closer to the mainstream.
The increased focus on network efficiency, reliability, sustainability and being future-ready will bring optical networking to the fore in 2024. “Across all industries, over 90% of senior executives are looking to modernise their networks, ensuring they are set up for the existing challenges they face, as well as those yet to come.
“There is also a wider concerted effort to overcome the limitations of existing infrastructure with optical technologies. More than 100 organisations are now partnering to drive the IOWN (Innovative Optical and Wireless Network) forward, ensuring the world is ready for future technologies and bringing optical networking closer to mainstream.”
- Internet of things (IOT) ecosystems will boost private 5G, edge adoption.
The combination of IOT, private 5G, and edge computing will enable organisations to gain real-time insights and make better decisions. With enterprises accelerating digitisation efforts, more connectivity and even more devices are needed as enterprises continue to digitise their physical environments.
“ The edge will significantly grow in importance as enterprises need data to feed analytics platforms powered by AI/ML. Increased automation due to labour shortages, computer vision, and digital twins will be key use cases driving the need for robust edge capabilities.
“Organisations need outside help, with eight in 10 expecting their dependency on third-party edge services to grow over the next 2 years.”
- Human skills will be essential for the uptake of AI.
NTT’s 2023 Global CX Report found that the majority of CX interactions still require a form of human intervention, with executives agreeing that this will remain a critical part of customer journeys. Despite four in five organisations planning to incorporate AI into CX delivery within the next 12 months, the human element will be central to its success.
“As enterprises turn their attention to how automation can complement and enhance human capabilities, they will place greater emphasis on closing the mounting skills shortages that will challenge AI aspirations. The fundamentals of AI and big data analytics will become baseline skills for a majority of jobs across industries, but new hires won’t be the only pathway.”
- Invisible clouds will start to go vertical.
When working well, cloud environments become invisible, leaving applications on stage, front, and centre. This has largely been achieved with office apps, project management tools, CRM solutions and the like, but not quite yet mastered for specific industries. That will change next year.
“In 2024, vertical specific clouds package software, PaaS, and IaaS layers to deliver industry-centric use cases focused on business outcomes, rather than the technology itself will increase. Analysts have been expecting this for some time, and there is now a great deal of interest in these projects.”