Agility will be the antidote to volatility in 2024

By Massimo Peselli

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The global economy has been volatile these last few years with inflation. The weakness of the global supply chain was exposed. Some industries cratered while others uncovered new revenue streams. As a consequence, the makeup of labor markets has changed. All of this flux and volatility, even as some markets stabilize, has compelled enterprises to prioritize agility. Moving forward, the agile enterprise that rethinks workforce, operations and solutions will thrive in 2024 and beyond.

Embracing flexibility as a service models

Because of this economic unpredictability business needs change faster than they used to and  enterprises are prioritizing solutions and providers that can afford them the flexibility to pivot when needed. Organizations are also rethinking their cloud strategy and adopting hybrid models given the increased cost of cloud computing. External factors and change in strategies require the ability to scale up or down the consumption of IT and Infrastructure services according to shifting circumstances. As a result, enterprises are increasingly adopting the everything “as a service” model and looking for a deeper integration in the deployment of applications, IT and network infrastructures.

The edge is accelerating digitalization across industries

Some industries have digitalized faster than others such as retail because convenience sells. Other industries didn’t shift to digital as quickly because some work is inherently physical. Consider manufacturing and healthcare. But with the advent of AI and edge computing enabling near real time creation of actionable insights, even these industries have been undergoing digital transformation.

Enterprises across industries are digitalizing. To remain competitive, digital transformation is imperative. How enterprises rooted in the physical world, as in manufacturing and healthcare, reconcile the convergence of the physical and digital worlds will be an indicator of long-term prosperity. Apart from forward-looking solutions, such as VR training for doctors, hospitals can dramatically improve resource utilization. For example, nurses, who currently spend a significant chunk of their time trying to locate their equipment, will be able to identify the nearest available equipment through a user interface with a real-time view of inventory. Manufacturers can more easily anticipate and troubleshoot machine breakdowns with an AR overlay or a digital twin, which otherwise might have resulted in the downtime of an entire production line.

When we look at the stadium and venue industry, use cases like autonomous retail and Accelerated Access demonstrate innovations that can be built on the network and demonstrate the power of digitalization. In other words, investing in digital infrastructure and connectivity solutions in 2024 and beyond will be key, as will protecting those investments with complementary security solutions.

Threat exposure management

The cybersecurity landscape is emblematic of what we see happening more broadly in the world around us. Complex geopolitical conflicts are spilling over from kinetic and physical attacks to cyber attacks and vice versa. Cyberthreats have always been on our radar, but we see the balance shifting from being largely financially motivated to becoming more focused on espionage types of attacks and with increasing attribution of nation states. The speed of ransomware attacks continues to increase and threat actors continue to leverage these types of attacks for easy monetization and funding sources. The attack surface area is also becoming more challenging to manage as more organizations adopt cloud, Software as a Service, and lean on an ecosystem of third-parties – all requiring cybersecurity controls and due diligence.

The regulatory and compliance landscape is continuing to evolve to attempt to get ahead of the threat actors, as well as to inform organizations on the need to take decisive actions and move swiftly in response efforts. In addition, regulatory bodies are seeking to broaden their available enforcement tools to include greater financial penalties and the potential to pursue criminal prosecution against companies and their executives. This is all leading to a need for closer alignment between the CISO, CFO and CEO as it relates to the cybersecurity and risk management needs of the business. Cyberthreat mitigation in large part comes down to proper planning and the ability to be agile.

Upskilling and reskilling the workforce - the role of AI

The last few years changed how we work and do business, which came with a host of associated consequences, including resource utilization. This period transformed labor markets. Systems changed. Jobs changed. Industries changed. Some industries saw a talent exodus. All of which left organizations scrambling to fill their skill needs in a labor market that was also in flux. And with a greater emphasis on workforce productivity, given economic realities, organizations are confronted with significant labor challenges.

HR has a greater role to play today than just a few years ago. To fully realize the benefits of digital transformation, it must be coupled with upskilling and reskilling critical teams. Naturally, HR is instrumental in that process. Advanced tools, including AI, AR and VR, are foundational to increase productivity - by accelerating manual or repetitive tasks, such as writing emails, and summarizing large documents-  and to improve training programs and to increase the quality of execution. The combination of digital transformation investments with HR stepping into the forefront to tap and build on existing talent can compensate for the current limitations of the labor market.

The 2024 outlook

Some economic indicators are pointing in the right direction, but challenges persist. The supply chain, for example, is still in the process of restructuring itself, with new strategies, like nearshoring, gaining prominence. Persisting challenges lead to uncertainty, and uncertainty fosters volatility. But whatever direction the economic winds blow, agility, flexibility and maximizing productivity will be keys to success—and digital transformation will be at the heart of it all.

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