Image of wooden number blocks turning from 2022 to 2023

The last few years have seen big changes in the ways that organizations are doing business. Cloud implementations have increased the flexibility of business software while lowering the operating cost. Low-code has revolutionized the speed and accessibility of custom software solutions. And AI is maturing into a tool for maximizing, rather than eliminating, the value of human expertise. 

From supply chain challenges to employee sourcing, those thriving in the "new normal" are doing so by embracing the kinds of tech that deliver ROI in changing times. The pace of business is moving faster everyday; businesses need software that keeps them in front of the crowd.

The cloud: Front and center

The business upheavals at the beginning of the pandemic forced fast changes; rapid adaptation continues to be the case in 2022, and there are no signs that 2023 will be different. Organizations went from slowly rolling out DX initiatives to suddenly re-imagining key parts of the digital infrastructure. Employees working away from the office needed cloud-based apps, and customers needed cloud-based services.

In fact, the cloud has proved to be the largest factor driving digital transformations in 2022 and continuing into 2023. The powerful and scalable solutions the cloud makes possible are also driving a huge economy; McKinsey predicts that by 2024 $8 out of every $10 IT dollars will be spent on the cloud. This includes the ever-growing sector of "as-a-service" solutions, ranging from infrastructure to security to data analytics platforms. 

Easy to build and easier-to-deploy business apps mean that more organizations and teams are creating custom solutions to solve their specific challenges. This can mean building on or even eliminating on-premises legacy systems, which reduces the time that IT teams are spending on hands-on maintenance, installations, and upgrades.

By reducing operational costs, the cloud generates even more opportunities for improvement. Pay-as-you-go licenses mean that organizations have new flexibility and scalability when it comes to their software choices. And because cloud platforms are dynamically responsive and extendable, jobs that were once entirely manual—from optimizing workload balances to building integrations—are being automated, with solutions deployed almost instantaneously.

The low-code digital transformation

Good DX is never done; it's an ongoing process subject to the availability of tools and software and the ability of people to use them. But as the tools have grown more intuitive and intelligent, the user abilities are proving less and less of a limiting factor.

And as enterprise business software grows increasingly smarter and more accessible, its learning curve become shorter and easier. (Of course, this does not eliminate the need for employee training.) Nowhere is this trend more evident than in the growing popularity of low-code and no-code development tools, predicted to be in use by 80% of non-IT professionals by 2024.

Low-code/no-code tools are improving business processes as well as driving productivity and revenue. The benefits of such platforms are multi-fold: first and foremost, they massively reduce the security risks posed by shadow IT. Because teams create and deploy safe solutions built from pre-approved components, every employee can improve their own workflows and processes without exposing the organization to security hazards. This not only lightens employees' workloads, but also reduces the need for over-tasked IT teams to invest time into building custom solutions for the many users who need them.

These platforms also bake-in a degree of connectivity into enterprise systems that might otherwise stay siloed and static. People with no development experience can now deploy cloud-based apps, easily built from a library of pre-approved components and functions. When app-building is essentially WYSIWYG, every employee can be engaged in creating solutions.

AI is moving forward

AI continued to expand its footprint in 2022, helping drive app creation, operational efficiencies, and employee productivity. AI is increasingly driving deep analytical insights and BI, helping highlight what frontline employees need to know as they make decisions. And easy-to-use builders and suggested actions lower the barrier to using these insights, allowing non-technical employees to generate meaningful reports without needing help from IT and make decisions driven by data rather than assumptions.

When AI is deployed across integrated data and systems, the experience of both employees and customers starts to improve radically. With suggestions for workflows and macros, employees reduce the time they spend on rote tasks and can turn their attention to more high-value work. In the insurance industry, these types of automations averaged a savings of $1.5 million in operating expenses over 18 months for every 100 employees, and more than $7 billion for the industry as a whole. Meanwhile, conversational AI allows businesses to serve people faster and better: virtual agents quickly handle front-line interactions while routing customers to humans as needed. AI's ability to pull data from everywhere powers a hyper-personalized, on-demand customer experience that keeps people coming back.   

The road ahead

The trend that we predict will have the biggest impact in the next year informs everything a company does, from its technology choices to office locations to supply chains. In a single word: values. Forefronting Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) at an organizational level became all the more important in 2022 and will continue to do so in 2023.

Consumers are increasingly seeking to align themselves, and their purchases, with companies that share their values. This kind of personal connection builds a type of brand capital and customer loyalty that drastically improves LTV. Apart from a willingness to buy more, this loyalty also makes consumers willing to pay nearly 50% more for products than they might otherwise, as well as to evangelize for the brand among their friends.

As digital innovations accelerate, it's easy to get lost in the crowd (and the cloud). Low-code and DX are reshaping the tech landscape every day, scaling custom-built solutions on demand and empowering organizations to drive focused improvements. Increasingly intelligent AI amplifies these effects, making the innovation cycle even shorter. As these trends shift the window of what's possible for enterprises, they create new expectations about where and how work is done and value is created. Fortunately, the same tools that are driving new expectations are generating new ways for organizations to adapt, adopt, and stay competitive.

Zoho offers a suite of intelligent enterprise business software, including an award-winning CRM suite, the industry's only comprehensive analytics and BI platform, and a powerful low-code development ecosystem.