Predictions & Hot Topics for 2024
Each year we identify trends and share predictions in the ICT market and how we think they will impact enterprises in the new year. Drawing on the many years of experience of our TC2 and LB3 colleagues, we present (with no AI-generated assistance) our top ten list of predictions and hot topics for 2024. We welcome your thoughts and will put our prognostication to the test next December and report on how we did. In the meantime, we invite you to tune into a forthcoming series of Staying Connected podcasts over the first few months of the new year, where we’ll be diving deeper into these predictions and hot topics.
*You can listen to our introductory podcast here.
This is the season of AI, and it should be no surprise that we predict that AI will continue to have a significant (and growing) impact on the ICT market and day-to-day use of information, communications, and network deals. Three areas in which AI-driven change will directly impact ICT in 2024: (1) the backend processes for vendors, including NOCs and staffing, (2) the refined use of AI in enterprises’ management of their services and customer relationships, and (3) security – with both improvements and new threat factors accelerating. On the legislative side, the EU has already acted, but we expect to see other legislative bodies discuss how to stay ahead (or at least catch up) with the impact of AI.
2. Fixed Wireless Access.
6G and 5G Advanced are still in the future, but 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) is growing and we predict more adoption by enterprise customers in 2024. In certain industries, particularly those with more remote or ex-suburban presences, 5G FWA tempts enterprise customers as an alternative to fixed broadband. Investments by providers, fueled by the Connect America Fund, and similar funds in other locations (e.g., Connecting Europe), will make 5G FWA more available and affordable. In 2024, we also predict the accelerated adoption of 5G and Wi-Fi 6E and 7 technologies as enterprises prioritize wireless connectivity for critical applications, leading to a hybrid wired-wireless WAN architecture.
3. Emerging Technologies.
Satellite networks, low-earth orbit (LEO) constellations, and edge computing solutions will play a more prominent role in WAN connectivity for remote locations and latency-sensitive applications. LEO providers will begin trialing technologies such as optical inter-satellite links (OISL) that create mesh networks in space with the ability to transport data 30% faster than terrestrial fiber optical cables. In addition, we see terrestrial wave service deployments growing as enterprises continue to seek more bandwidth and lower latency WAN solutions that Internet and MPLS services cannot deliver.
- Listen to the podcast here.
4. Rethinking Cloud.
Enterprises did a herculean job of adapting to the pressures imposed by the pandemic, changing technology options, and market, but now find themselves managing multiple cloud solutions with confusing invoices, and overwhelming costs. In 2024 enterprise customers will deal with two big cloud-related challenges – cloud management and cloud costs. First, enterprises will look to manage diverse cloud environments, integrating WAN solutions with cloud management platforms to simplify multi-cloud network operations. In parallel, customers will be reexamining their cloud strategies and become more cautious/measured on the migrations from on-prem to the cloud. Second, enterprises will focus on controlling cloud invoicing and costs. Enterprises will insist on more visibility into and understanding of their cloud spend, new ways to eliminate waste, and ensuring that their investments in the cloud and provider applications space make sense.
5. Contact Centers as a Service.
We are watching several developments in the CCaaS arena. First, we expect an upsurge in migrations from on-premise solutions to cloud and hybrid cloud deployments. Maturation and developments in the CCaaS provider market will encourage enterprises to carefully review specific solution capabilities relative to their unique requirements. Second, the effective integration and adoption of AI in CaaS solutions is expected to improve both customer and agent experience in the coming year. Third, telco providers will increasingly push managed solutions as they lose traditional contact center space to providers such as NICE, Genesys, and Five9, but will find increased competition from niche system integrators such as Connect and Continuant. Finally, while enterprises often engage third-party help for implementation support and optimization as they move from legacy to cloud-based solutions (and will continue to do so), once implemented, over time enterprises will bring more of the day-to-day management in-house.
- Listen to the podcast here.
6. Legislative Scurry.
With a Presidential election at the forefront, there will be a push to find legislative solutions before the election since no one knows what things will look like in 2025. The FCC, finally with 5 Commissioners and the ability to overcome the deadlock of ties, will push its key initiatives which include USF reform, 911, robocalling/texting, SIM swapping/security, and net neutrality. State and federal legislators are focusing on investment in infrastructure, security, and AI. Even if this is not the year Congress gets a win for data security, the agencies and the states will continue to push forward leading to an increasingly complicated regulatory web.
- Listent to the podcast here.
7. Data Center/Collocation Growth.
The move to edge computing and away from MPLS will continue to encourage enterprises to collocate and relook at their data center deals (and whether to close or downsize existing private data centers). The expansion of data center options and fuel efficiency measures will open the door to better deals, and sophisticated enterprises will take advantage of this opportunity in 2024.
8. Pendulum Swings for Managed Services.
2024 is a year of customer/user experience. As a result, enterprises will rethink wholesale outsourced MNS arrangements leaning toward co-management models where certain functions are deemed critical to the business and brought back in-house. Changes in the provider landscape (such as Verizon’s partnership with HCL) will accelerate this review, and combined with ever-evolving automation, machine learning and AI tools will provide ample opportunity for enterprises to examine their needs and how to get the savings and the end user experience they require. Finally, the market will watch the Verizon/HCL partnership, but we expect that to continue to be a “work in progress” without any meaningful operational gains realized by enterprise customers of Verizon’s MNS service until 2025.
9. The Continued Transformation of the Legacy Enterprise MPLS WAN.
SD-WAN and Internet first strategies (wired and wireless) will continue to transform the enterprise WAN away from legacy MPLS, from Tier1 providers to Internet aggregators. Vendors will struggle to preserve MPLS revenues while responding to enterprise demands. MPLS will not go the way of the PSTN, at least in 2024, but after that, buyer beware.
- Listen to the podcast here.
10. Enterprise Customers Diversify Away from Cisco.
When rethinking their ICT infrastructure strategy, enterprise customers will demonstrate an increased willingness to diversify away from Cisco, focusing on the continued transformation to cost-effective, secure, easy-to-manage, cloud-first architectures. Equipment providers including Juniper, Palo Alto, Arista Networks, and HPE/Aruba are positioned favorably to benefit from the diversification. Odds are that the Gartner quadrants will look very different at the end of 2024 than at the beginning of this year.