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We three researchers of Vanson Bourne are…

…bearing gifts we traverse afar… I know, we had you at ‘gifts’!

Whilst the bad news is that our stocks of gold, frankincense and myrrh are running a little light this year; the good news is we will instead offer you the gifts of insight, illumination and reflection – providing our researcher perspectives on the B2B tech landscape over the last 12 months, as well as a few thoughts on how 2024 could shape-up.

We have explored a vast swathe of the B2B tech territory this year – given the array of research studies conducted; the ‘field and fountain, moor and mountain’ chapter-and-verse approach is, however, probably not right for this article. Instead, we’ve selected three areas where there has been considerable noise, disruption and/or acceleration in 2023, exploring each in turn.

So, grab a mince pie, a glass of eggnog and settle in for a brief respite from the festive chaos. Hopefully, our musings on the year just gone and the one ahead will prove informative – shaping the odd thought, action or activity you have planned for 2024. Don’t worry, we won’t stretch the ‘We Three Kings’ literary device any further… well, maybe a little!

Let’s make no bones about it, our sector is currently being buffeted hard by hurricane-strength macroeconomic headwinds. In our view, such tough trading conditions will continue for some time yet – into 2024 – with B2B tech businesses continuing to pursue increased efficiencies, cost cutting and consolidation.

Whilst hindsight is 20/20, tech firms often overspent in growing their team sizes amidst the post-pandemic scramble for talent. Now there is a pressing need to restructure and align to tightened demand levels.

So, whilst the economic environment is undoubtedly a challenging one, the most adaptable and agile businesses will thrive – wasn’t it ever thus! Those embracing the seismic shifts and opportunities presented by the advancements in GenAI and data analytics – often in parallel – will continue to ‘win’ in 2024.

It’s worth briefly exploring the potential, on-going, impacts such technologies are having and will, in our view, continue to have over the forthcoming 12 months…

Whilst not a new concept for many, the noise surrounding GenAI has exploded over the last year. The entering of GenAI into the mainstream business consciousness and lexicon has generated considerable wonder, as well as fear.

As with any such new – potentially game-changing – innovation, much is still to be grappled with though. Considerable barriers (across ethical, investment and skill-based dimensions) have yet to be surmounted, before businesses can truly harness the full potential of GenAI.

A strategy to overcome such implementation challenges is paramount. Initiatives which are starting to be spearheaded – at an organisational level – by the Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer (CAIO). A role which, whilst still less common, has gained increasing prominence over the last 12 months – and with good reason.

The opportunity GenAI adoption represents for business transformation is incalculable. It’s therefore no great Nostradamus moment to predict the on-going exploration, integration and implementation of the technology into 2024 and beyond. The direction GenAI takes and how it evolves is, however, even outside the knowledge of this wiseman!

The amount of data now available to businesses, even compared with 5-years ago, is exponentially greater. We are awash with the stuff! Does more data lead to better decision-making though? Not necessarily. The numbers can absolutely swamp us, unless structured, analysed and visualised effectively to identify key patterns and insights.

Data analytics can play a central role in such processes – enhancing productivity and business gain. Doing so in a highly efficient (automated) and timely (real-time) manner. An approach which is, in our view, increasingly becoming the norm – particularly across enterprise organisations.

This year, we’ve particularly noticed the aspiration to migrate away from standalone analytics platforms and silos, to an integrated data ecosystem. Although this desire for greater data integration is not always matched by the corresponding action – often given the embedded nature of associated legacy processes, systems and/or technologies.

As mentioned earlier, with the march of the CAIO, the role of the CDO (Chief Data Officer) is following a similar trajectory, albeit markedly further along in its adoption as a critical business function. Ultimately, within enterprise organisations there needs to be a central point of responsibility for data quality, governance and strategy – directly informing business decision-making (tactically and strategically), initiative prioritisation, as well as deriving maximum commercial value.

Over the last year, we’ve observed the ever-increasing interlinkage of data with daily business operations, as well as the greater visibility of the CDO. Trends which, in our view, will only continue to gain momentum.

Following yonder star

Okay, it is important to acknowledge that our expectations – in relation to the respective impact of GenAI and data analytics – might be slightly ahead of their time, particularly given the economic backdrop. That being said, the momentum is building and the direction of travel for 2024, and beyond is clear, as the carol states: “Westward leading, still proceeding. Guide us to thy perfect light.

We hope you have a wonderful festive break and look forward to picking up with you in 2024.

The three Vanson Bourne magi providing their thoughts and observations were…