What’s in store for 2024? Our founders Calum and Steve discuss their predictions for the year ahead.
2023 was a big year for tech. While AI continued to dominate the conversation, some equally significant changes were taking place away from the public eye. Many of these will come to fruition in 2024, and we’re excited to be part of this process. From standardised platforms to business APIs, here are the trends to watch out for in 2024.
A chance to take a breath
The tech sector has been growing consistently for the past decade, but last year was different. For the first time in ten years, we saw the industry contract. Over 200,000 workers were laid off, including employees at Google, Facebook and Amazon.
Some may see this as a sign that the party’s over, but we’re more optimistic. As our co-founder Steve Bennett explains, a certain degree of belt tightening could be a positive thing:
“The market has refocused and companies have tightened their belts. This had to happen at some point, and many of these businesses will be stronger for it. Companies are now teed up for 2024- running leaner and ready to move faster.”
Businesses have scaled back and are ready for the future. This will mean harnessing new technology and embracing new ways of working. There are dozens of ways to do this but, for our money, there are a few that will really count in 2024.
1. Standardising platforms
Platform engineering has always been a bit chaotic. Businesses have traditionally built platforms that reflect their individual preferences, and this has created endless scope for confusion. Thankfully, this looks set to change in 2024. Standardised platforms are becoming the norm, allowing engineers to build effective solutions in a fraction of the time. As Steve explains, this will have a huge effect in the coming year:
“Going back just four or five years, it was like the Wild West. Every organisation had its quirks, and many different flavours of tech were being implemented. Now we’re finally seeing a convergence into standardised platforms, which is something we’ve been talking about for years. If you go to an organisation like Google or Facebook, you don’t get a choice. Choice is the enemy in many ways. Too much choice slows you down and makes things harder to support.
A standardised approach is a win-win because it means we work faster in the short term, and we know that the platform will be supported in the future. We’ve got multiple clients embarking on a simplification journey- building one or two platforms to rule them all, then adding software engineering solutions and support pipelines on top. This is going to be a huge accelerant for delivering value to customers.”
2. Adding a business API layer
With these platforms in place, businesses will be free to add new applications as they please. This “plug in and play” approach will let them take advantage of new services without the need to reengineer their client facing systems. As our co-founder, Calum Fitzgerald, explains, this flexibility can be increased even further with the use of a business API layer:
“One of the interesting things we noticed at AWS re:Invent was that AWS themselves are coming round to the idea of introducing a business API layer. This is something that we’ve been talking to a lot of our clients about too. Adding an API layer will allow you to define your customer journey, your flow of data and your payment options in a steady state. Rather than choosing a monolithic system that is good at some things but not so good at others, you’ll be able to choose the best of breed integration for each job, rotating systems behind the scenes while maintaining a consistent customer journey on the front end.”
3. Getting to grips with remote and hybrid working
Many employees have grown used to remote and hybrid working, and this has caused some tension in the tech industry. In 2023 we saw a wave of companies implementing back to work policies, sometimes to the dismay of their workforce. One survey found that half of all workers would quit their jobs if they were forced to return to the office, while another found that 63% consider remote work to be the most important aspect of their job.
Based on these statistics, it would be tempting to ditch the office completely. However, the need for face-to-face collaboration and social interaction, with the clear benefits that they provide, cannot be ignored.
In 2024, businesses will need to balance current remote work trends and situations with the pull of bringing people back to a communal place of work. As Calum puts it, the key is to be realistic about the nature of each individual’s work:
“Forcing people into the office can be extremely detrimental in the tech sphere. If you’re bringing someone in just to sit in the corner and make video calls to other team members on the other side of the office, being ‘locally remote’, you’re creating hassle for those individuals and a bad feeling for no reason.
At the same time, we all know that things can be more productive and creative with face to face contact and social interaction is so important. We can’t just go back to the old way of how things were pre-pandemic. If people are coming into the office, they need to know why they’re coming into the office and we need to make it attractive for them, rather than use the whip. We need to provide them with reason and purpose so that they are pushing for a move back to the office rather than management having to pull.”
4. Harnessing AI for faster engineering
We didn’t want this blog to be all about AI, but there’s no denying its importance in 2024. The last few years could be characterised as an AI arms race. Companies have been scrambling to invest in AI technology, but not all of them have given much thought to their long term goals. According to Steve, this could all change in 2024:
“This is the year that people get real about AI. Companies need to take a step back and realise that the rules of the game have changed. Everyone is playing with ChatGPT, and this is bound to have an effect on consumer expectations.
We know that AI is going to have a massive impact on consumer behaviour- we just don’t know when and how. There are going to be some big winners here, but businesses need to ask themselves what this success is going to look like.”
While the public grows more familiar with AI, there are developments on the horizon that will hugely increase its utility for businesses. One of the most exciting of these is AI-augmented engineering, which will allow engineers to deliver faster and more consistent code. As Steve explains, this creates all sorts of possibilities, both for the tech industry and for the world at large:
“AI-augmented engineering will give engineers the ability to deliver code that is faster, more secure and more standardised. You’ll be able to plug these tools into your environment, and they will actually make you a better engineer. This could be a national, or even international-level accelerant. If we as a country gain the ability to develop software faster, that is surely a good thing!”
5. Dealing with AI-driven security threats
AI augmentation will be a major accelerant for businesses, but it will also create new security risks. AI tools can be used by bad actors to identify vulnerabilities, opening up businesses to a new wave of cybercrime. As Calum explains, this needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency:
“We’re seeing more and more attacks by nation states on industry as well as infrastructure. An awful lot of investment is going into breaking things, and this could come to a head in 2024. Over two billion people will be voting in elections this year, so we can expect to see a huge increase in deepfakes and bot-driven social media posts. These same tactics can also be used against businesses.
We’ve seen a lot of spoofing of emails, telling accounting departments to send money to particular places. Deepfakes are so good that even audio WhatsApp messages from colleagues could be fake. We need to work out how we’re going to defend against these, and what role tech can play. Whether this means watermarking or PKI or something else, it will be really interesting to see how it plays out .”
These threats have led to a significant shift in the way businesses view AI. While the excitement is still there, many now think of the technology in terms of risk rather than reward. This is something we’re keen to address. As Steve explains, building trust in AI will be one of our key challenges of 2024:
“Trust will be a major theme. As a species and as a culture, I don’t think we’re going to trust by default anymore. We’re not going to trust what we read or even what we see, because we know that it could have been generated by AI. One of the things we’ll see is “Chief AI Officer” becoming a job title in the same way that “Chief Data Officer” has appeared in the last few years. Companies will want to focus on what AI means for themselves and for their customers, and Daemon is no ex Because it’s coming, it’s definitely coming!”
6. Moving towards net zero
Environmental impact is a perennial concern for any progressive business, but we can expect to see this intensify in 2024. The recent COP conference has increased the pressure on companies to come up with an effective net zero strategy and, as Calum points out, there are plenty of benefits for those that do:
“Offsetting is a perfectly valid choice in my opinion, but there’s also insetting. This is where you look for ways to reduce carbon emissions within your supply chain, which then allows you to generate carbon offset credits to sell on the voluntary carbon market. As recently as last September, one tonne of carbon was trading at $173, so there’s definitely scope to monetise your net zero efforts.”
This is another area in which AI will make its mark. The technology is increasingly being used to scour company reports for data. Activities such as insetting or claiming Climate Dividends will show up in these reports, raising your ESG profile in automated searches and analyses. As Calum explains, this could be a win-win for green-minded companies:
“If ESG is important to you, there are certainly ways you can be smart about improving your ESG score. I think tech has a huge part to play in decarbonising and reducing companies’ carbon footprints.”