During this time of year, analysts everywhere are busy creating their yearly forecasts for upcoming technology trends. While such predictions are valuable, I thought it would be fun to shake things up a bit. Instead, I compiled my list of anti-predictions. These are predictions of trends that won’t happen in 2024.
#1. Tech Companies Put the Brakes on AI
My first anti-prediction is that tech companies will decide to pause their work on AI.
In the spring of 2023, Elon Musk and others publicly called on tech companies to temporarily suspend their AI development efforts until better controls are established. Even if you put aside the risks of AI dealing a devastating blow to humanity, there are plenty of examples of AI behaving in really creepy ways or being used for nefarious purposes.
Despite all of this, there is no way that tech companies will pump the brakes on AI in 2024. For starters, they are too heavily invested in AI, with tech CEOs having all but bet their companies on these investments. To stop now would be financially catastrophic for them.
The other reason tech companies won’t cease their AI efforts is that their competitors won’t. The current situation with AI mirrors the widespread adoption of cloud technology a decade or so ago. Back then, vendors scrambled to integrate the cloud into their products, simply because it was the industry trend. Similarly, software vendors must embrace AI to stay relevant; otherwise, they risk being left behind.
#2. Work-From-Home Comes to an End
With the COVID pandemic of 2020 in the rearview mirror, some have advocated for an end to remote work, citing issues like reduced productivity and a perceived lack of accountability. Despite such calls, a full return to in-office work is not going to happen – at least not in 2024.
There are a few reasons for this. First, employees aren’t going to put up with a mandated return to the office. There are just too many advantages associated with working from home. If an organization forces all its employees to work in the office, many employees are going to seek opportunities elsewhere.
Additionally, there are economic considerations at play. Companies that continue to embrace remote work can reduce their office space requirements, leading to cost savings. Never mind the huge investment that companies have made in the infrastructure that makes remote work possible.
#3. Cloud Providers Accept Data Repatriation
In recent years, an important but somewhat unnoticed trend has emerged – cloud repatriation. The idea behind the trend is that companies are pulling back from the cloud because the promised cost savings haven’t materialized.
While bringing a workload back on-premises may not severely impact a cloud provider, it will pose a huge problem if subscribers start moving their data in-house.
Yes, data storage, coupled with egress fees, is a huge money-maker for cloud providers. However, there is more to it than that. Hyperscalers have gone all in on AI. AI assistants such as Microsoft Copilot cannot function without access to vast troves of data. If customers pull back their data from cloud storage, then providers risk losing the very thing that fuels their AI engines. As such, I think that we will see an all-out marketing blitz from cloud providers, aiming to convince customers to keep their data in the cloud.
#4. The Metaverse Fades Into Obscurity
Not too long ago, many dismissed the metaverse as an epic failure.
However, recent months have seen a renewed interest in augmented reality and mixed reality environments. Microsoft, for example, dedicated a significant portion of its 2023 Ignite keynote to demonstrating its mixed reality Copilot. The company showcased how Teams meetings could take place in the metaverse.
My guess is that the metaverse was initially derailed by the pandemic. In 2019, there was a perception that the metaverse would be the next big thing. However, the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020 shifted priorities, focusing resources on technologies that enable remote work. Since then, the metaverse has been all but forgotten about.
The problem with this is that tech companies made major investments in the metaverse and are eager to see returns on those investments. Right now, they are looking at ways to pair the metaverse with AI to create a brand-new experience for customers.
Whether or not the metaverse eventually succeeds remains to be seen, but in 2024, I think that we will see a renewed push to get people to accept the metaverse.
#5. Passwords Make a Comeback
One last trend that we definitely won’t see in 2024 is the comeback of passwords. Users frequently complain that they already manage way too many passwords. At the same time, organizations are struggling with various password-related vulnerabilities.
In 2024, we are likely to see more and more organizations adopting passwordless authentication techniques. Additionally, technology companies are probably going to push the concept of universal digital identities, allowing users to carry their digital identity from one site to another.
About the authorBrien Posey is a bestselling technology author, speaker, and 21x Microsoft MVP. In addition to his ongoing work in IT, Posey has trained as a commercial astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space.