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2022 saw several large crypto crashes, the sale of Twitter, and brands first tentative steps into the metaverse. It’s hard to say what 2023 will bring, but we can safely predict these trends will be high on the agenda: 

  1. The role of AI will continue to grow

Machine learning and AI are nothing new but it is becoming far more sophisticated and mainstream. Adoption has been limited, but it has become more affordable to SMBs, which will drive the uptake. We’ll also see increasing use of computer vision technologies whereby computers and systems derive meaningful information from digital images and video. It’s already used by utility and manufacturing companies for predictive maintenance, and has revolutionized the use of medical imaging and diagnosis in the healthcare space. 

  1. Developers will need data science credentials

Data scientists will move back into the business landscape while analysts will upskill with software and data science credentials as well. We’re not only using Big Data to make commercial decisions but to improve software development processes as a whole, and technologists need to upskill to reflect that need. 

  1. Digital twinning and smart buildings

Asia is ahead of the curve on digital twinning, the creation of virtual models that accurately reflect physical objects. It’s already successfully used in manufacturing, particularly in the automotive industry, but the need for digital twinning and the creation of smart buildings will only increase as business campuses become bigger and multi-functional to accommodate a hybrid workforce. 

  1. The rise of super apps

.In 2023, we’ll see more apps amalgamate and integrate, resulting in feature-rich platforms that combine messaging, video and entertainment with commerce, customer service and payment options. TikTok has already added multiple features that mimic other social media apps, while Meta is evolving WhatsApp by adding community tools and payment features. 

  1. The D2A/Avatar Economy

While the cryptocurrency industry has suffered considerable losses, the use of digital identities continue to grow and make their way into mainstream financial systems. D2A (direct to avatar) identities will not revolutionize the way we transact on- and offline, but interact with one another.

  1. 5G 

The availability and reliability of 5G is growing in lagging markets like South Africa. This will not only have a positive impact on businesses during load shedding, but improve our attractiveness to international markets as a remote working hub of note. 

  1. Cybersecurity challenges will increase

SMBs and essential services like healthcare have been impacted the most by cyberattacks as criminals take advantage of endpoint protection failures to infiltrate businesses that are too  ill-equipped and understaffed to secure their networks. South Africa is ahead of the curve in many ways, but very few SMBs have taken the necessary precautions. Hopefully, new SOCaaS (Security Operations As a Service)  companies will enter the market in 2023 to alleviate the burden. 

  1. The prominence and use of AIaaS tools 

Speaking of AI, we’ve already seen off-the-shelf AI tools like ChatGPT take the market (or at least, social media) by storm. These tools enable smaller businesses to implement and scale AI tech at a fraction of the cost of building in-house tools. Privacy and plagiarism concerns will be addressed in 2023 to put consumers’ minds at ease. 

  1. The Metaverse will become more accepted

Even though the spectacular fall of several crypto giants like Terra and FTX hasn’t done the industry any favours, brands are embracing the metaverse and its decentralised, virtual reality. NIKE, Bloomingdales, Ferrari and Coca-Cola have all launched impressive marketing campaigns in virtual worlds – preceding real-world launches in some instances. 

  1. Social Commerce

As consumers are forced to tighten their belts for a tough 2023, we’ll see the social commerce trend accelerate and reach exciting new heights. Consumers who cannot afford the climbing cost of living will start buying and selling goods from one another, undercutting even the discount brands when it comes to clothing, electronics and furniture. Brands like Gumtree, Yaga and Facebook Marketplace will compete for a slice of the pie and consider new revenue models to take advantage of the trend.