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Artificial intelligence is a rapidly evolving landscape. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang called it “​​the single most significant platform transition in computing history,” and for good reason: We may be just at the beginning of the GenAI era, but it’s already hard to know what will be the limits of this technology.

As such, it’s crucial for IT professionals to stay ahead of the curve. The trajectory of AI development will continue to shape not only the tech industry but also countless aspects of our daily lives. It offers multiple benefits, but also raises new questions and concerns about security, ethics, and trust.  

The top eight AI trends for the year make clear that the journey toward AI integration is not just about keeping pace with innovation, but also about fostering a culture of informed decision-making and ethical practice.

#1 Co-pilots

The likes of Alexa and Siri have been around for years, helping us navigate, remember our shopping list, or search for information without lifting a finger. But in the last year or so, thanks to advancements made in AI technology,‌ AI assistants have silently (or not so silently) been popping up on every service and platform, from LinkedIn to monday.com.  

No doubt, the name Nadella coined for the upcoming era is apt. Whether it’s going to come built-in with a service or tool, or be one users will customize one for themselves via platforms like Microsoft’s Copilot Studio—co-pilots are going to be one of the main pillars of the everyday AI transformation.

#2 AI democratization

Forrester predicts that 60% of workers will use their own AI for their jobs in 2024. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 90% of global companies will incorporate AI in some capacity into their employees’ work. 

“2023 might as well have been called the “year of AI democratization.” It’s the year AI moved beyond the limits of multi-billion-dollar corporations and academic labs and became available to anyone with an internet connection and a laptop or mobile device, regardless of tech skills.”

Atera CEO Gil Pekelman

In many ways, though, this transformation is a bottom-up, unmonitored, and ununified effort. In 2024, companies are going to need to set up security and privacy policies in place to handle this wide and easy availability of AI, as well as ensure they have a wider vision in place to leverage these new capabilities within the organization’s workflows and processes and upskill their employees.

#3 AI-assisted development

A Duke University lecturer recently completely reworked his coding class two weeks into the semester, moving his students from Python to Rust, a much more powerful coding language that is also much harder to learn. The reason? The rollout of Github Copilot, which basically offers developers a “supersmart assistant” at their back and call. 

The initial numbers Microsoft revealed for the GitHub Copilot are already incredibly impressive, shedding light on new capabilities it unlocks for devs:

  • 46% of new code is written by AI
  • 55% faster overall developer productivity
  • 75% of developers feel more focused on satisfying work

Though perhaps the most advanced on the market, Microsoft-owned GitHub is not the only TuringBot on the market (a name given by Forrester to GenAI-powered software that helps developers code). Meta has Code Llama, Stability AI offers StableCode—and of course, ChatGPT itself offers some coding capabilities.

Like general AI use, AI for coding will become ubiquitous simply because no one can afford not to tap into its huge productivity and speed boost. And it will change the way developers work, from reprioritization of tasks and new skills required to shortened product life cycles. 

#4 Risk and security

The increased democratization of AI comes with increased risks. Like the shadow IT explosion of the COVID-19 pandemic, the wide use of unsecured and public AI platforms and multiple unvetted and unmonitored tools introduce new vulnerabilities. In fact, Gartner estimates that by 2027, 75% of employees will acquire, modify, or create technology in a way that will be invisible to IT teams–up from 41% in 2022. 

Another risk will be from bad actors, who have much the same access to free AI tools as legitimate developers—Forrester predicts that at least three data breaches will be publicly attributed to AI-generated code in 2024.

Any integration of AI must therefore balance its benefits with stringent security measures. Companies will need to double down on third-party risk management, while centering much of their cyber threat prevention around employee security training. Regarding external vendors, reputable service providers will be upfront about their security compliance, so organizations will need to do their research before choosing an AI tool to integrate. 

#5 Trust and ethics

The growing popularity of AI also raises public and regulatory concerns. Questions about bias, consent, transparency, accountability, and infringement on rights such as intellectual property and data privacy are all increasingly debated. Industry leaders such as Tesla’s Elon Musk and tech entrepreneur and investor Jaan Tallinn are among the voices calling for increased regulation and caution, while the White House and the European Union are also weighing in.

On an industry level, addressing these ethical challenges requires ethical AI guidelines and frameworks that could help instill public trust. On an organizational—and even personal level, they require proactive engagement in ethical discussions, a company-wide ethical AI policy, as well as demands of accountability from third-party vendors. Multiple companies have already put out principles for responsible AI, among them Microsoft and Forrester

#6 Cloud+AI

With so many applications being cloud-native nowadays and cloud investments remaining a long-term priority for most organizations, AI and cloud are a natural pairing. Cloud providers are all in on AI—a good example being Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI ecosystem. 

Furthermore, a recent global survey by Tata Consultancy Services revealed that among senior executives surveyed, 59% highlighted the important role cloud plays as a catalyst for innovation for their organization’s future, tying it directly to AI innovation.

This pairing will help unlock AI’s new capabilities further as cloud architecture and hosting enable more efficient, agile, and responsive processes. However, it will also further transform the cloud itself, as cloud providers will need to hyperscale, invest more in retrofitting their data centers and deploying processors, and manage the increased energy and costs demanded. 

#7 AI literacy 

Forrester predicts that 60% of employees will get prompt engineering training in 2024—and that’s just one aspect of upskilling that will be required to keep up with this new technology and reap the benefits. 

What are people’s thoughts on AI upskilling?

  • 86% – believe that they will need upskilling to address how AI will change their jobs
  • 14% of monthly employees say that they have already gone through upskilling
  • 44% of leaders say they have already gone through upskilling

(Source: Boston Consulting Group’s AI at Work survey)

Scaling AI across an entire organization can pose many unknowns‌, complicating even a careful planning process. A simple AI-powered add-on like Grammarly will not require the same integration effort as a customer-facing support chatbot. Time, money, educational resources, and employees with specific AI skills are all considerations. For IT-specific applications, teams must further understand how AI will integrate into workflows and will impact their roles. 

Companies will need to consider that training and upskilling are not a one-time effort but a continuous process in an AI landscape. Fortunately, many of the tools and services available on the market today prioritize ease of use and onboarding, enabling businesses to tap into AI’s benefits without in-depth technical expertise.

Hype vs. habit

In January 2023, just two months after its launch, ChatGPT set records for being the fastest consumer application in history to reach 100 million monthly active users. Just a few months later, in July, the headlines were different—”ChatGPT sees its first monthly drop in traffic since launch.” The trend continued in August and September as the number of users slipped.

And then, in November, it was revealed that ChatGPT had reached a new milestone of 100 million weekly active users. ChatGPT’s user base went through the usual hype vs. habit cycle, as people checked it out in droves, and then some left and some remained, incorporating this new tool into their regular workflows.

We at Atera see the same use curve among our own users as we roll out new AI features. Ease-of-use, education resources, and a robust knowledge base all help increase adoption and regular use. 

In many ways, 2023 was the beginning of the AI shift, with people trying out multiple variations of similar tools, whether they were relevant to their profession and daily work or not. 2024 will be the year when people—and companies—start settling on their preferred tools and applications. 

AI with Atera

It’s clear that AI offers great technological advantages, alongside wider societal impacts. From the widespread adoption of AI-assisted development tools revolutionizing coding practices to the imperative need for organizations to prioritize AI literacy and upskilling initiatives, the opportunities and challenges presented by AI are vast. AI-powered solutions like Atera enable IT professionals to leverage AI’s transformative power easily and seamlessly. Try it for yourself with a 30-day free trial.

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