ChatGPT broke records in January this year, becoming the fastest-growing consumer app with 100 million monthly active users signed up since its launch two months earlier.
By comparison, TikTok took nine months to reach 100 million users, Twitter took five years and the internet took seven years. AI is sparking conversations and actions across enterprises, in every department, as employees enthusiastically become early adopters. Recruiters are using ChatGPT to write job descriptions; marketers are generating copy; salespeople are using it to source background on customers and prospects. But as employees get swept up in the excitement, IT teams are more cautious, with some raising concerns around security, privacy and data protection: one report revealed an employee had shared sensitive information with ChatGPT and requested it to generate a PowerPoint presentation (not the only person who’s done this, I’m sure), while a doctor is reported to have entered a patient’s personal medical details, asking it to generate a letter.
AI creates huge opportunity for enterprises, but there’s no doubt it’s keeping IT leaders awake at night – and this is reflected in some research we’ve carried out. We wanted to identify exactly what would be front of mind for IT teams in 2023, so we asked 953 IT decision makers across 12 countries to share their priorities. The resulting data revealed not only the top priorities for IT decision makers, but gave us insight into maturity levels and impact of different technologies across different regions.
AI, metaverse and emerging technologies
In the UK we found 40% of IT decision makers we surveyed named AI in their top three. When averaged across all 12 countries in the survey, it was cited as a priority by one in three (33%). Only in Sweden, Denmark and Hong Kong did the figures fall to below 25%, and this is probably influenced by the smaller sample size in these regions. Note that the survey was carried out late last year, so although ChatGPT had launched, it was just at the beginning of the wave. Still, its influence will be fascinating to chart.
The metaverse and other emerging technologies were named as top three priorities by 34%, on average, but for the US this rose to almost one in two (47%). This could be linked to US-based Mark Zuckerberg’s evangelical forecasts for the metaverse, and other tech giants investing in its opportunities being largely US-headquartered; and US-based Forbes naming it as a top trend ‘everyone must be ready for’ in 2023. It could also be down to other regions simply having fewer enterprise use cases for the metaverse, and it being viewed as more appropriate to the consumer and gaming worlds. In fact we’re seeing more examples of digital twin and blockchain driving value in business, so we should expect to see a greater prioritisation of meta outside the US as we move forward.
Change as a constant – and the impact of behavioural shifts on enterprise tech priorities
The most commonly-named priority across the study– which comes as no surprise – was improving security. This was cited by 53% of IT decision makers in our research. And I suspect those that didn’t name it as a priority this year have already invested in robust security solutions, and are further along their security transformation journeys.
Improving network flexibility was the second most common priority, named to the top three list by 44% of IT decision makers in our research. Again, we’d anticipated this – here at Colt we’re seeing strong demand for our On-Demand digital infrastructure – but it suggests organisations are preparing for change and unpredictability as a constant; building in the ability to flex to their enterprise technology solutions, and seeing the value of being able to respond swiftly to changing market conditions.
Prioritising new collaboration and communication applications was the third most commonly-cited response across all 12 countries, at 39% on average. For Italy, this rose to 53%. Cloud migration (35%) was also high on the list, and more than one in four (26%) cited SD WAN solutions – for Japan, this rose to 44%. All these technologies help businesses compete under rapidly-changing conditions; but there’s another standout here. These technologies also drive hybrid working.
The shift in working patterns and locations continues to drive adoption of technology and digital infrastructure, and vice versa -the more flexible, cloud-based solutions companies roll out, the easier it is to support hybrid workers. Our research found 43% of IT decision makers in the Netherlands prioritise cloud migration, for example – the highest of all countries surveyed. And a study by HR firm Remote found the Netherlands had the highest proportion of remote workers. As businesses look for ways to address the skills shortage and widen the talent net – and as workers continue to seek hybrid roles – we’ll continue to see IT teams prioritising technologies which enable agile working patterns.
A virtuous circle
In the enterprise tech industry, we find ourselves in a virtuous circle of behaviours redefining IT priorities, and flexible technologies enabling this change. At the heart of this circle lies next-generation digital infrastructure, proudly connecting, transforming and reshaping the way we live and work. This snapshot into IT priorities is not only fascinating in terms of innovation and infrastructure; now, it’s our responsibility as an industry to support IT decision makers with their priorities; to help them facilitate this change, in a sustainable way.
About the Author
Andrew Edison is Executive Vice President (EVP) – Sales, Marketing and Customer Success at Colt Technology Services. Colt Technology Services (Colt) is a global digital infrastructure company which creates extraordinary connections to help businesses succeed.
Obsessed with delivering industry-leading customer experience, Colt is guided by its dedication to customer innovation, by its values and its responsibility to its customers, partners, people and planet. For more information, please visit www.colt.net
Featured image: ©Ulia Koltyrina