The tech industry underwent much change in 2022. Some of it was born of adversity and our attempts to respond to it. Though much of it was the product of exciting technological and operational breakthroughs—certain of which have the potential to reshape how companies operate and how people work.
Of course, as with all big and important technological advancements, true progress comes not from the advancements themselves, but from how they’re accessed, embraced, and leveraged by humans.
That’s why, for our money, the top tech trends to look out for in 2023 will revolve around our attempts as humans to better understand and harness new and innovative technologies—from paradigm-shifting advancements in AI to evolutions in automation and no-code interfaces.
Those who stay ahead of the curve could help define a new status quo—a completely new reality of how companies operate. In fact, when we look back 10 years from now, we might understand 2023 as a turning point, the moment powerful technological innovations converged with certain strategic insights to create a new and more human-centric future of work.
At Tonkean, we’ve been on the front lines of helping people refine a more productive and human-centric partnership with innovative technology for years. Here are some of the most important tech trends and advancements that have us most excited as we proceed into 2023.
Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock (or unless you’re extremely offline), you’ve heard about recent seismic advances in AI—in particular text and image generators, such as ChatGPT and Dall-E. The hype around these tools is significant, and their potential is real. ChatGPT, for example, which can communicate with users in plain English using an updated version of OpenAI’s AI system, is quickly changing what exactly people can create in partnership with technology. As our CEO and co-founder Sagi Eliyahu wrote recently, it goes “beyond productivity to help workers complete a much more diverse array of tasks and at a consistently higher quality of output.”
Here’s the thing, though: such tools can’t achieve anything like that on their own. Rather, their effectiveness depends on how you use it.
AI tools allow what Ethan Mollick, an associate professor at The Wharton School, calls “human-machine hybrid work.” Over the course of 2023, you’re going to see people and organizations iterating and improving upon the manner in which they collaborate with AI to optimize the way they work.
One way they’ll do this is by improving the prescriptive quality of the prompts they give tools like ChatGPT and Dall-E. The most innovative and successful organizations, however, will go a step beyond that and begin integrating AI’s functionality into larger workflows and packaging into distinct use cases. Asking ChatGPT questions and using it to help you produce marketing language is useful. But what’s even more useful is automatically prompting sales reps to use ChatGPT to synthesize transcripts of recent Gong calls, share the summary inside Slack or Teams, and then automatically populate a CRM with the new info. (Shameless plug: You can use Tonkean for that.)
This will level up into a reiteration of the same central lesson we keep talking about: the power of new and powerful technologies comes not from the tools themselves, but how we use them.
Speaking of which…
If you traveled over the holidays—or if you as much as glanced at social media—you were no doubt aware that Southwest Airlines was in the midst of a disaster. On the day after Christmas, one of the busiest travel days of the year, Southwest canceled more than 2,900 flights. It scrapped 2,500 more each day for the next two days after that. Passengers were stranded in airports and strange cities by the thousands. All told, the airline canceled more than 60% of its scheduled flights over the last week of the year.
What happened? Two words: operational neglect.
In the days following the crisis, Larry Lonero, who according to LinkedIn is a Southwest pilot, shared a post on Facebook detailing the state of Southwest’s operations in the years preceding the meltdown, which he suggested was a long time coming. In the now-viral post, he discussed how the company began ignoring basic operations, like making sure its technological systems were up to date, in favor of facilitating things like stock buybacks. Here’s a jaw-dropper: He said the airline managed all 20,000 of its frontline employees not through any kind of online system—but manually, through phone calls.
The only thing scarier than such a dire lack of operational aptitude is wondering what other large companies are similarly holding on by a thread—or a phone bank or a spreadsheet that gets manually updated.
The lesson in all this is fairly simple, and you can rest assured that smart organizations will heed it as we proceed into 2023 and beyond: Organizations are products, ultimately, of their operations. The processes and systems they rely on are infrastructural. Your operations are the first thing you should invest in when you’re thinking about how to prepare your company for the future. What happened at Southwest was the result of a disinvestment both in their operations and in their technology. Which betrays an elemental truth: the two are intertwined.
Many of the strategic insights successful organizations alight upon in 2023 will revolve around leverage. We already saw this last year. As layoffs mounted, and knowledge workers were asked to do more with less, many organizations thought more carefully about how to do that better—and in a way that removed burdensome work from people instead of adding to it.
The most important lesson is this: technology is only valuable so far as it accentuates and buttresses humanity and human-specific skill sets. That has a lot to do with cutting waste, improving processes, and helping people spend less time coordinating manual, low-value work. And the more organizations and their leaders wake up to this fact, the more they’ll target one very specific foe: SaaS bloat.
Forward-thinking organizations will cut SaaS bloat on the one hand because of budgetary constraints. Leaders will look to kill tail spend, but they’ll also save costs by trying to move to platforms that solve most or all of their problems. Short of that, they’ll find ways to consolidate what they have to avoid a massive, taxing move to a different platform. (This is where a platform like Tonkean can be a big help.)
But this will not only be about spend. Organizations will also be forced to do more with a smaller staff. Companies can no longer rely on hiring as the default move to solve problems anymore; instead, they’ll need to focus on maximizing employees’ time and expertise by augmenting technology and processes.
For a long time now, organizations have had lots of money to spend, and were more than happy to “solve” problems by buying yet another app. That’s not going to fly any more. Organizations will need to prove their business is rooted in sound economics with highly sustainable margins. That will come down to improving their processes and systems and deriving as much value as possible out of each of their internal components.
Misconceptions about no-code, what it’s for, and how to use it still abound.
One of the most common erroneous assumptions is that no-code is supposed to replace developers. It can’t, and it’s not designed to. No-code interfaces are not replacements for developers. They’re abstraction layers designed to enable people who are not classically trained coders to better access and utilize powerful technology—including AI.
This is a critical distinction, because those who try to implement no-code incorrectly—as an end unto itself rather than as a means of increasing access for more people in an organization—will be doomed to fail.
But more people are getting wise to this. And 2023 will be the year that a majority of people and organizations internalize the true value and most logical application of no-code technology.
We’ve written extensively about no-code in the past. Learn more about what the technology really is and how it should be used here, with No-code 101.
Technology is only as powerful as its application is strategic. And in 2023, another hugely impactful trend we’ll begin to see is organizations finally starting to use automation more strategically.
Specifically, organizations will use automation as a means of enabling employees to spend more time focusing on high-value work, and less on manual work.
Today, on average, more than half of every employee’s day—58% of the work we do—cannot be accounted for. The time is lost to unstructured manual work.
Consider the way most organizations manage the seemingly simple task of informal internal request handling, like when someone on the sales team needs a contract approved by Legal, or when a customer success manager has a feature request for the product team. In such an instance, the requester will probably do something like Slack a colleague with their request, or send them a message in Teams (or even an email).
The problem with this is that most teams tend to be siloed and possess their own priorities, processes, and tools. The person of whom action has been requested often needs to ping someone else to accomplish the new task. And because few organizations provide employees with any kind of structure or hierarchy to help them quickly and easily prioritize requests in the context of the rest of their responsibilities, each new request becomes a black hole, and every new black hole swallows more time.
At Tonkean, we think of this as a rather simple intake problem. And it’s the perfect problem for automation to solve.
In 2023, you’ll see more and more organizations waking up to this fact, and in turn investing in automation platforms that automatically intake, triage, and standardize unstructured inbound internal requests. These platforms can help you more clearly define and consistently reinforce a structural hierarchy with which you can make sense of internal dependencies. It can help employees more effortlessly prioritize inbound requests. And it can make more scalable and systemized cross-functional rules of the road.
Perhaps even more importantly, automating the taxing task of manually making sense of informal, cross-functional collaboration returns to employees critical amounts of time, energy, and mental space, and reduces the amount of manual mental work they’re responsible for.
Here at Tonkean, we’ve spent the past 7+ years building and refining precisely such an automation solution. Our higher-level goal, however, has been to bring people and technology closer together, so that innovative technology can be leveraged in areas that were previously too hard or expensive to do.
We believe that this year, economic and technological headwinds will bring a renewed focus on operations and efficiency, as well as reinvigorate excitement about technology’s operational potential. The trends listed above very well might just be the beginning.
Want to learn more about Tonkean and what we do? Get in touch.