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Sustainability is the key strategic technology trend for 2023 – Gartner

CEOs report that environmental and social changes are now a top three priority for investors, behind only profit and revenue

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New research from Gartner has revealed the top strategic technology trends for 2023, with sustainability a transcendent consideration for organisations as they look to the new year.

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Announcing its findings at its IT Symposium/Xpo event, Gartner said businesses must review their current strategies and ensure they’re aligned with the key themes that have stemmed for both the pandemic and 2022, while continuing to accelerate digital transformation plans. 

“To enhance their organisation’s financial position during times of economic turbulence, CIOs and IT executives must look beyond cost savings to new forms of operational excellence while continuing to accelerate digital transformation,” explained Frances Karamouzis, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner.

The research firm’s list of key trends for 2023 are built around three themes – ‘optimise’, ‘scale’, and ‘pioneer’.

'Pioneer'

The ‘pioneer’ category, which outlines new forms of engagement and opportunity, includes metaverse virtual 3D digital reality spaces. Gartner predicts these will be device dependent, won’t be owned by a single vendor, and will powered by digital currencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

In fact, by 2027, the research firm expects 40% of large organisations around the world will use a combination of Web3, AR cloud, and digital twins in metaverse-based projects aimed at increasing revenue.

The other pioneer focuses are superapps – designed to combine features of an app, a platform, and an ecosystem into one application – and adaptive AI systems that continuously retrain models and learn based on new data.

'Optimise'

The ‘optimise’ category names the three top technology focuses that help optimise organisational resilience, operations, and trust.

These were found to be digital immune systems for mitigating risk, applied observability for exploiting data artifacts in decision making, as well as AI, risk, and security management.

'Scale'

The top three focuses for ‘scale’ were named as industry cloud platforms, platform engineering, and wireless connectivity value realisation.

Across all three categories, however, sustainability is a key driver. In a recent Gartner survey, CEOs reported that environmental and social changes are now a top three priority for investors, behind only profit and revenue.

“In 2023, delivering technology will not be enough,” said David Groombridge, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner. “These themes are impacted by environmental, social and governance (ESG) expectations and regulations, which translate into the shared responsibility to apply sustainable technologies.

“Every technology investment will need to be set off against its impact on the environment, keeping future generations in mind. ‘Sustainable by default’ as an objective requires sustainable technology.”

Sustainability is a business opportunity

Charles Cao, head of operations and strategy at SaaS provider Conga, agrees with Gartner’s findings, suggesting stakeholders are now seeing the business opportunity in sustainability.

“Clearly this is indication that business leaders are feeling the pressure from key stakeholders to do more for their environment, but more importantly, that they are now beginning to see these initiatives as opportunities to drive business efficiency and revenue growth,” he said.

“As Gartner’s report suggested, sustainability is not only a business prerogative, but it also goes hand-in-hand with business success – it can provide leaders with the opportunity to optimise and scale their operations and explore new ways of working and doing business.

Cao added that digital transformation and sustainability are fundamentally linked, and they should be treated as one and the same.

“As executives continue to invest more in innovative solutions, they need to match technology with clear business objectives and sustainability goals,” he continued.

“To do this, organisations need to establish a sustainable technology framework, one that outlines key areas of improvement in how they deliver their services, any unnecessary processes, and ensures that they are maximising their own energy and material efficiency.”

“Ideally, leaders should approach their sustainability programmes by trying to simplify or streamline one critical business process at a time, rather than adopting fully transformational technology without identifying how it benefits the operational cycle.”

As businesses set their sights on 2023, Cao reiterated Gartner’s point that simply delivering new technology will not be enough – leaders must look beyond cost savings.

“Looking towards 2023, every investment in technology will need to be set against its impact on the environment, or at least proven to deliver more sustainable business practices, but leaders need to embrace sustainability with an open mind,” he said.

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