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Top three tech challenges and solutions Australian enterprises need to know for 2024
Tue, 2nd Apr 2024

Successful enterprises are those that never stop adapting to the changing terrain of business. Like the veteran team captain who reads the field, identifying opportunities and weighing risks, enterprises that flourish are those who take the initiative. In sports as well as business, staying rooted and passive can get you run over while you wait for the best path forward to present itself. 2024 may well prove to be the year that will quickly sort out the hall-of-famers from the benchwarmers as several important enterprise technology developments take the field.

There are three big things landing this year, and each comes with its own risks, benefits, and solutions. While this isn’t an exhaustive list, it includes technologies that will impact Australian enterprises in some way in 2024—and may already be in the mix for some.

  • Wi-Fi 7 is finally here.

The arrival of Wi-Fi 7 comes with the massive boost in capacity afforded by the 6 GHz bands it uses. With significant improvements to capacity, latency, and reliability, it will become an even more valuable part of the enterprise network strategy.

For example, Wi-Fi 7 adds multi-link operation (MLO) that enables access points (APs) to simultaneously drive multiple bands and channels at the same time, which sends capacity skyrocketing and drives latency way down. Even more, MLO delivers a more reliable connection between an endpoint and the Wi-Fi AP. Thus, 2024 is going to be the year when enterprises will take a deeper look at their use cases and realise that what was once thought untenable via Wi-Fi has finally become possible.

  • The rise of multi-access converged networks

For enterprises looking for the most agility in how people and devices are connected, 2024 will bring important advances in how multiple networks and protocols can be driven in parallel, optimising the connectivity mix to suit specific enterprise needs with purpose-built networks.

  • IT/OT convergence and IoT

IT/OT convergence and IoT within the enterprise are also about to enjoy a renaissance in 2024 for a few reasons. First, economic conditions are forcing enterprises to seek more efficient ways to operate than ever before. Second, new advancements in IoT device connectivity are making waves in smart homes and the enterprise market in 2024. These are making zero-touch IoT device connectivity and interoperability a reality and removing an enormous obstacle to broader IoT adoption. Connected devices can unlock critical efficiencies for enterprises and enable them to reallocate resources from IT and OT to more profitable, growth-oriented priorities.

While these technologies are going to set the stage for evolution for the next decade or two, they will also come with growing pains, and these, too, fall into three main challenges that span these technologies.

  • Network complexity

With the addition of new network layers and additional integrations between them, the structure of the network becomes necessarily more complicated and unwieldy. As use cases for 4G/5G private networks grow alongside Wi-Fi, managing the complexities from the two technologies as they share space is a top priority.

  • CapEx and OpEx

Both are significant factors for enterprises seeking to leverage these technologies. Wi-Fi 7 requires LAN infrastructure upgrades, and fully leveraging IT/OT convergence and IoT opportunities requires specific equipment and expertise. Under current economic conditions, this kind of investment in equipment and staffing is not an option for all enterprises.

  • Lack of experts

Hard-to-find subject matter experts (SMEs) can be a limiting factor, particularly where it concerns 6 GHz and Wi-Fi 7, private cellular and IoT deployments. As a new-to-market technology, Wi-Fi 7 does not yet have an established third-party ecosystem of support and deep expertise. Even for those enterprises able to afford this specialised staffing, they may not be able to secure it—at any price. Wi-Fi 7 is the central pillar support all these 2024 trends, so this challenge is perhaps the most significant and pervasive of all.

Each of these interrelated challenges is a steep hill to climb, but not an unscalable one. Even as these challenges start being felt, enterprises have innovative solutions close at hand. Here are three key resources available to enterprises that are eager to embrace these advances with confidence.

  • Cost efficient AI-powered network management

It has become increasingly affordable for enterprises to lean on AI, which has become powerful enough to manage these complexities – even for converged networks where AI can be purpose-built to simplify operations and optimise configurations. The upfront costs of training a purpose-built GPT-3 AI model is forecasted to plummet to less than 1 per cent of what it would have cost a few years ago, and we expect training costs of purpose-built AI models to continue declining while their computational power and efficiencies progressively improves.

IoT efficiencies can help reduce costs

This year, we can look forward to Thread protocols making greater inroads into enterprise and industrial environments. These protocols open the floodgates for any number of connected devices, sensors, security, and productivity applications, ranging from networked thermostats and lighting that can reduce OpEx through more efficient management to connected door locks and security cameras that improve plant security and increase personal safety for employees. IoT deployments can even improve an enterprise’s sustainability profile due to its ability to reduce energy use—again, with the help of affordable AI management—and provide other efficiencies throughout the enterprise, from transportation to warehousing to manufacturing.

Network as a service (NaaS) eases the CapEx burden

This is particular to enterprises building smarter, more converged networks. NaaS is a cloud-based service model that delivers turnkey network functionality on a subscription basis. Rather than invest in the new infrastructure that may be required to deploy Wi-Fi 7 and all the converged network services that run with it, the enterprise can delegate the cost to a third-party NaaS vendor and amortise the cost over time as a matter of OpEx rather than CapEx. NaaS can ensure that the enterprise network is—and remains—on the cutting edge of technology, without taking on the obligation to design, install, optimise, monitor or manage that network. NaaS models enable agile scalability and responsive allocation of bandwidth across the network.

Lastly, for those enterprises limited by IT resources and time more so than the money required to design, build, manage, and support converged networks, there are vendors who offer a complete set of “managed services” to choose from to meet their network needs.

The key developments taking place in 2024 will resonate far beyond this coming year. The arrival of so many exciting technologies to the mainstream could well set the tempo for decades to come. For those enterprises willing to embrace them—with the smartest combination of AI, IoT and NaaS support—2024 will indeed be the start of something very, very big.