The ‘new normal’ tech trends that can help you do business better in 2024

As a managed business services company that provides office automation, telecommunications, connectivity, security, cybersecurity, cloud, software, and solutions for numerous clients across a multitude of verticals, we at Itec are seeing more demand for AI, intelligent security and technological integration than ever before. With our post-Covid ‘new normal’ meaning that most people are back at the office permanently, you could say that we are back to our ‘old normal’ – but with some interesting tech trends pushing us forward.

One of the most interesting back-to-the-office trends that we are helping our clients to navigate relates to their technology, rather than their people. Many smaller businesses, especially in outlying areas, are choosing to disengage from the cloud and instead store and manage their data on-premise. While the reasons for this shift are manifold and include infrastructural connectivity issues, we are seeing a marked uptick in demand for on-premise hard- and software solutions.

On the other hand, larger businesses, particularly those in metro areas where connectivity is more reliable, are opting for full-cloud and hybrid cloud solutions in order to circumvent hardware budget line-items. It’s going to be interesting to see what innovative funding solutions and other options transpire for on-premise demands, as well as for fully-integrated cloud options

AI is here to stay, but so are people

Personalisation remains a key expectation for consumers. Your customers access your services from multiple devices on a number of different channels at any time of day or night, but personalisation is about more than omni-channel delivery. As your clients’ experiences with your company grow, and as their businesses grow, their needs and interests change.

The businesses that understand this are using their data and AI to predict demand, in terms of both volumes and product enhancements. By creating data-driven personalised experiences they are making better decisions about how they use their resources. They are hyper-targeting their marketing efforts. Quite simply, they are driving revenue growth.

However, AI is a tool and will never replace the human touch. You still need peer-to-peer connections and human creativity to keep your relationships with your customers and business partners real. Why? Because people still buy from people.

On premise security provides business intelligence

All South African companies know they need physical security measures. But security infrastructure has progressed from being a monitoring tool that protects a property to an intelligent site management control system. With CCTV and access control, you have a clear view of who is doing what, where, and when on your premises, and with the right software behind it, this footage can power more efficient workflow, and better utilisation of resources among other aspects.

Some real use-cases show that AI, effectively integrated into security systems at shopping malls, for example, can use facial recognition to flag suspects from SA Police Services and other criminal databases, identify thousands of hand-held items that have no place in malls – like firearms and crowbars – and alert the security control room while tracking the suspect through the mall in real-time to aid apprehension and even arrest. Many retailers are using camera-based heatmapping to see where consumers linger longest, in order to optimise their store layout and displays. Still others use data from security systems, integrated with information garnered from loyalty cards, to provide personalised shopping and marketing experiences for individual consumers and their lifestyles.

Integration is everything

It is 2024. You would think all business processes and functions would be automated by now. But we find this is not the case – and there are a couple of factors that come into play here. Many businesses that have invested heavily into legacy systems are financially unable to upgrade to systems that, for lack of a better phrase, talk to each other. On the other hand, some companies simply don’t realise the potential that their systems have to integrate elements for optimal efficiency.

Take a call centre as an example. Traditionally, different systems do the dialling, store the data, generate the resulting communications, and then send the communications. But in reality, all of this functionality could be combined into one system for a seamless customer experience that, ultimately, costs the company less to provide. If one thing is clear, it is that integration is essential for maximising return on investment into technology.

As 2024 progresses, it is also going to be interesting to see how South Africans deal with our 2023 frenemies: the need for fit-for-purpose energy solutions; ever-increasing cybersecurity risks; and wrapping our heads around IoT and datafication, among others. In this challenging world, AI, intelligent security, and technological integration are going to be your business’ strongest allies, along with a managed business services partner that understands both your business, and how technology can enhance what you do and how you do it.