Scrutton Bland predict what will be big for digital in 2024

04 January 2024 - Ryan Pearcy

Each year Ryan Pearcy, Associate Partner of SB Digital, and Simon Pinion, Business Advisory Partner at Scrutton Bland, make predictions about what will happen with technology in the coming year. This can be helpful when plotting a course for your business through an ever-changing landscape.

Before we run through their predictions for 2024, let’s see how they fared with their 2023 predictions:

The delayed digitalisation of micro businesses – Correct – The announced delays by HMRC led to many software vendors closing their doors and limiting choice for micro businesses, which slowed uptake of systems

Period end apps – Incorrect – 2023 turned out to be the year of AML apps. Period end apps are still in development

Death of cryptocurrency? – Incorrect – December 2022 appears to have been the bottom of the slump with crypto values steadily increasing to more than double its value at the end of 2023

Development of 5G networks – Correct – 5G has become the dominant network coverage apart from rural areas, with most modern devices no longer working on 3G networks

ChatGPT – Correct – This prediction focussed on content writing which proved correct with bots appearing on social media automatically creating articles and posts during 2023

Gesture control – Correct – This continued to roll out in 2023 with hardware using this becoming the norm in many areas. The announcement of Apple’s Vision Pro in the year cements this further.

So what are Ryan and Simon predicting this year?

Market consolidation

Anyone that has studied evolution understands that it isn’t one smooth flow. It is punctuated by bursts of innovation stimulated by a triggering event, followed by consolidation where certain traits dominate. This is as true for Technology as it is for Life. The technology market has been through a period of innovation following the rise of cloud, with thousands of apps popping up and fighting to be heard. That tide is now turning with many apps failing to grow sufficiently and either fading away or merging into bigger businesses. This is expected to continue into 2024 as those that already dominate expand their functionality, either through development or acquisition, limiting the need to use multiple apps. This will force users to consider their options and whether they need to change their providers.

Everyday use of AI

2023 was definitely the year of talking about AI. 2024 is looking likely to be the year where it’s use becomes the norm. Firstly some context. AI has been around in the background in many apps for years, but has been in the background and hidden. The success of Large Language Models (LLMs) started by ChatGPT in 2022 has enhanced visibility and applicability of AI which is what has led to the recent boom in discussions, but there was little to be seen in practical applications in 2023. Although who didn’t love creating a wacky but great image based on a few words?!

What will change in 2024 is that the combination of LLMs and other AI functionality on large data sets will see practical use rolled out across many normal applications, with Microsoft and Google likely to dominate with their releases. Co-Pilot from Microsoft has the potential to dramatically disrupt how we work with Office products and many businesses will want to ensure they keep on top of this so that they do not lose a competitive edge. Expect disruption and investment in 2025 before the gains are felt in later years.

Rise of the finance SuperApp

Linked to consolidation we are starting to see the term SuperApp become used more widely. First used to describe WeChat, a messaging and payment app based in China, it was picked up as an objective for X (formerly Twitter) by Elon Musk in 2023. There are only a handful of Apps that are coined with this term, such as Lark, Alipay, Grab and Tata Neu, but there is one finance app in the UK that has set its sights on this goal. Translucent, from the creator of Dext, is a multi-entity accounting app that is aiming to replace all the additional functional apps that business plug into their finance systems. Starting with reporting it is likely to move into reconciliations, payments and beyond. Set for initial release in 2024 it will be interesting to see whether it lives up to the hype.

Security considerations escalated

The movement towards cloud apps has transitioned security considerations from those that are in-house to those that are outsourced. Initially, as businesses moved into the cloud, security was not at the fore-front with other facets such as efficiency being the ultimate objective. But with more data leaks on cloud products and greater awareness of varying security levels of cloud products this is becoming a critical consideration. Expect questions to be asked and cloud-based apps to talked more about their internal security through 2024.

Data Analytics roles

Cash is King, Data is Queen! Data is everywhere and overwhelming. Large businesses have been able to invest to control, understand and utilise their data to give them an edge. With standard models and skillsets for handling data becoming normalised smaller businesses can now afford to explore the data they hold and look to utilise it to differentiate. For those with disparate systems and data sets, to do this effectively a data analyst is needed, either inhouse or as a consultant. This role has become more commonplace in business and will be a key recruitment objective for many businesses heading into 2024.

As we move away from a recession into static growth across the economy businesses are looking to technology to enable them to differentiate and find growth where others can’t. Opportunities are there but require investment and those that have managed to retain some reserves and haven’t over-leveraged assets have the biggest chance to capitalise on the changes that are coming.

With so much changing in the digital landscape it is imperative to talk to independent professional advisers in this field. At Scrutton Bland we value the importance of financial technology solutions and have created our SB Digital Service to help both business owners and accountancy firms’ clients stay ahead in this field.

To find out more about our SB Digital Service or to speak to one of the team about your and your client’s software structure and applications please email hello@scruttonbland.co.uk or call 0330 058 6559.

 

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