Everyone sees technology as a fast-moving industry, and in many ways, that’s true.
Of course, there’s a region of the tech industry that’s entirely populated by “quick-move-and-break-things” types who rush to create a minimum viable product and talk about things like “NFT” and “Web 3”.
But there are also other regions where the slow accumulation of layers of technology means that while old tools may be overtaken by new innovations, they are not always forgotten (like those fax machines).
All of this, plus the inherent risk in trying to predict these days, means that coming up with a set of tech trends for the year ahead can be a bit tricky. But we spoke to analysts, analyzed the data, and used the expertise of the ZDNET team in creating this month’s special report, which aims to give you at least a rough guide to what the technology will look like in 2023.
And there are a few big trends we can be reasonably sure of.
Developers, clouds and more
The demand for tech workers isn’t going away, even though big tech has cut hiring so far. That’s because the past two years have demonstrated the benefits of technology spending. From enabling new ways to connect (and sell) to customers to supporting staff working in hybrid ways, spending on technology is now seen by bosses as an investment that delivers real benefits .
For many organizations, coping with the past two years has meant a rapid acceleration in their use and appreciation of technology. That’s why many analysts expect spending to pick up, even though 2023 is shaping up to be a tough year for the economy as a whole. Therefore, the demand for developers and technology security expertise, in particular, will remain strong.
Looking at specific technologies, it’s clear that the shift to cloud computing will continue, a long-term trend that shows no signs of slowing down. What could change is that companies will become more analytical about their use of the cloud, which is an increasingly large part of their spend.
Finding ways to make using the cloud more efficient and cost-effective will likely be one of the top considerations next year. Although IT budgets are growing, that doesn’t mean there’s room for waste. Indeed, it’s encouraging to see that sustainability is once again on the agenda of many tech organizations, something we’re likely to see more of in 2023 and beyond.
These three trends
There are three big consumer tech trends I’m watching with interest in 2023, and that’s where some of the most exciting innovations will be. Small steps in 2023 could resound loudly for years to come.
Foldable smartphones have been around for a while, but remain a tiny part of the overall market. I always like the idea of being able to fold a bigger screen and carry it around, and there are some interesting use cases for foldable phones – the question will be whether consumers will be persuaded to part with their cash.
The second major trend concerns virtual reality, augmented reality and the metaverse. Big tech has spent big here, and there are suggestions that core tech is reaching a tipping point, even as the broader metaverse business models are, at best, still evolving. Headset technologies begin to merge and software becomes easier to use. But the biggest problem is that consumer interest and confidence is still low, if only because science fiction writers came along long ago with their dystopian vision of a future headset. Building that consumer trust and explaining why people might want to engage is just as high a priority as the technology itself.
A technology trend that is perhaps closer, even if we cannot see it, is ambient computing. The concept has been around for decades: the idea is that we don’t need to take technology with us because intelligence is embedded in the world around us, from smart speakers to smart homes. Ambient computing is designed to disappear into the environment around us – perhaps that’s why this trend has remained invisible to many, at least until now.
In some ways, longer-term predictions are easier than short-term ones, especially when it comes to technology. We know the general direction of travel, we just don’t know when we’ll get there. Some breakthroughs have been made in five years for decades – maybe 2023 will be the year some of them actually start to happen.
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