LAS VEGAS -- Gartner unveiled today at its IT Infrastructure, Operations & Cloud Strategies Conference a list of six trends that it believes will significantly impact infrastructure and operations (I&O) in 2024 and beyond.
It should come as no surprise that most of the trends revolve around artificial intelligence (generative AI in particular) and machine learning.
What makes AI different from past trends is the imminent nature of people's deployment of it, Jeffrey Hewitt, vice president analyst at Gartner, told ITPro Today. "There are people who are really saying, 'We are going to start deploying something now,' or, 'We are going to do it within the next six months to a year' — a very high percentage. So that's why you see AI and AI-related topics."
One surprising trend, however, is an emphasis on nationalism versus globalism in 2024. "Because of conflicts in the world, because of economic situations, there is a bit of a shift now toward some more national- or geographic-based solutions," Hewett said. This could manifest in sovereign clouds or the encouragement or even rewarding of specific skill sets within individual countries.
Here are the top trends Gartner sees impacting I&O leaders in 2024:
No. 1: Machine Customers
Gartner anticipates a continual increase in the number of machine customers, which it defines as nonhuman economic actors that obtain goods or services in exchange for payment. In fact, Gartner projects that by 2027, half of the population in advanced economies will use AI personal assistants every day and says CEOs believe that, by 2030, machine customers will account for up to 20% of their companies' revenue. Examples of machine customers include virtual personal assistants, smart appliances, and connected cars.
Machine customers present compelling advantages that are fueling interest and adoption, Hewitt said, so I&O leaders should identify suitable use cases for machine customers and develop capabilities in digital commerce and generative AI to align optimally.
No. 2: AI Trust, Risk and Security Management (AI TRiSM)
Despite the hype of AI, it comes with potential issues that could lead to financial, regulatory, societal, and ethical consequences. So I&O leaders must implement the new forms of risk and security management that AI requires.
"AI has the potential to do a lot of great things," Hewitt said. "But it can be it can be problematic. It can also be used improperly. And so you want to have protection from that." To ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place, Gartner developed AI TRiSM, a framework to enable AI governance, reliability, fairness, efficacy, and privacy.
"All AI usage inherently comes with specific risks, and to sustain the perceived benefits, [TRiSM] is invaluable to make the value increase and positive impact stick," Gartner VP Analyst Bart Willemsen told ITPro Today recently.
Gartner forecasts that by 2026 organizations implementing AI TRiSM will see their AI models achieve a 50% enhancement in adoption, business goals, and user acceptance.
No. 3: Augmented-Connected Workforce
Gartner defines an augmented-connected workforce as the "intentional management, deployment, and customization of technology services and applications to support the workforce's experience, well-being, and ability to develop their own skills."
Hewitt sees it as a way to accelerate the productivity of employees but not as a means to replace workers.
"This is a relatively new way of thinking for I&O which requires new skills and workflow views," he said. "It also requires collaboration outside of I&O and IT which takes specific focus, and sometimes executive involvement, outside of IT to achieve that engagement."
No. 4: Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM)
As cyber-attacks continue to increase in numbers and damage, there is a need for companies to be more proactive with their security measures. For this reason, Gartner predicts continuous threat exposure management, or CTEM, will have a large impact on I&O in 2024, as it prioritizes exposures rather than focusing on fixing all of an organization's vulnerabilities.
CTEM shifts an organization's security strategy from a preventative-only approach to one that is augmented with detection and response capabilities, according to Hewitt.
"There's hygiene around security that goes beyond just simply having a one- or two-package solution," he said. "And that's where a [CTEM] team can look for those vulnerabilities. We've got to look at that and say, 'Hey, what's the hygienic parts of this? Where are the vulnerabilities? What can we do to address them?'"
No. 5: Democratized Generative AI (GenAI)
One of GenAI's many benefits is it enables the democratization of knowledge and skills through the use of conversation and natural language. For the I&O leader, there are two aspects of this trend to consider: the use of GenAI within I&O and the impact of GenAI on I&O.
"There's both the responsibility of developing and implementing and supporting it, and then there's also the use of it," Hewitt said. "[I&O leaders are] going to be asked to deploy it. … On the other side of the coin, they can use it themselves."
While democratized GenAI can provide agility, adaptability, and composability improvements for I&O, Hewitt said that, "if it is overused or used unnecessarily, it can generate unacceptable costs and negative environmental impacts."
GenAI can also be used for malicious purposes, he warned, such as to clean up spelling and grammatical errors in phishing emails — there's even an evil version of ChatGPT available called WormGPT.
However, there are a lot of positives, Hewitt said: "Suddenly, somebody who has no capability of being a developer or writing something could come up with an idea and write code and have an actual application that could work."
No. 6: Nationalism Versus Globalism
We're seeing a trend of country-led initiatives to reduce dependencies on foreign products, talent, and services, according to Gartner. In 2024, this will put pressure on I&O teams to keep more technologies, resources, and talent in their own country.
Many initiatives in place today are changing the focus of IT resources from a more global view to a more nationalist approach, and I&O leaders must be aware of risks that could come from using providers outside their country, according to Hewitt.
Shifts in these initiatives can produce new risks for countries that are currently using providers outside their country," Hewitt said.
"I'm not going to say globalism is going away," he said. "In certain ways, I don't think so. But in other ways, it's a shift to say, 'How can we do this in our own geography, our own country?'"
About the authorRick Dagley is senior editor at ITPro Today, covering IT operations and management, cloud computing, edge computing, software development and IT careers. Previously, he was a longtime editor at PCWeek/eWEEK, with stints at Computer Design and Telecommunications magazines before that.