As 2023 ends, we asked leaders from across the Hughes North American Enterprise division to share predictions and trends in networking and digital transformation for 2024 and how they will impact enterprises and industry.
AI-driven Network Management
The biggest change impacting managed services will be the movement of artificial intelligence for operations, or AIOps, into practical solutions rather than theoretical; the capability to analyze large amounts of data and distill it into a few key actions that either reduce the impact of an outage or ideally even preempt it by self-correcting issues. A Managed Service Provider (MSP) must be able to demonstrate value by utilizing the tools and knowledge developed across customers to help all customers benefit from the experience. Between greater access to data from core devices and the proliferation of IoT sensors, AIOps now has a significant amount of input to help drive actions. Dan Rasmussen, SVP and General Manager
Digital Signage Market Consolidation
Since becoming a recognized industry in the early 2000s, digital signage has been a very fragmented market space. Back then, the barrier to entry was low and the minimum market requirements varied widely. As the industry matured, the market established minimum acceptance criteria. Customers now expect and require cloud-based management, smart TV applications or low-cost plug-n-play devices, and proven software development processes. They also require the ability to scale deployments to hundreds or thousands of screens. While outliers will continue to look for highly customizable and unique solutions, high-cost specialty providers will meet their needs. One bold prediction is that the mainstream digital signage market will see significant consolidation, with a set of 5-10 mega brands continuing to compete and drive innovation. This shift will increase the barrier to entry and reduce the overall number of competitors. Mike Tippets, VP Enterprise Marketing
Managed Services for SMBs
Small/medium enterprises and large franchises with 50-150 sites are the fastest growing segment across retail, restaurants and hospitality. Since they have limited resources to manage their own network, they are also the fastest growing segment needing fully managed connectivity, cybersecurity, Wi-Fi and VoIP services. What is most attractive to these enterprises is finding an MSP that offers numerous products and services to help reduce the burden of dealing with multiple vendors. Higher costs for equipment, technical resources and recurring services are driving customers to delay their network upgrades, exposing them to security risks due to hardware end of life support and license issues, as well as technical failures. In turn, customers are looking for the Network as a Service (NaaS) option to avoid large capex expenditures. Randy Anders, VP, North American Sales
5G & AI Ramp Up
5G will continue to be a game changer. It’s getting faster and cheaper and can be deployed for “private” 5G wireless networks to support specific areas, complexes (like bases or largescale facilities), initiatives and needs (like seasonal retail pop-ups). Similarly, the use of AI will become a routine part of every system/component, rather than viewed as a standalone technology. Soon, AI capabilities will be assumed, no longer called out on its own. In terms of the store, there will be more unforeseen applications added, which means more systems, IoT devices and bandwidth to manage. Consequently, MSPs will provide the critical backbone of the store. Carl Udler, senior marketing director
Democratization of Data
AI will impact MSPs on two fronts: end-user empowerment and operational automation. The significant progress made in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and intuitive dashboard visualizations will democratize data, empowering customers to effectively leverage data to identify and resolve operational issues to improve their business performance. Growing trust in the reliability of prescriptive AIOps will elevate the operational performance of increasingly market-driven, complex technology stacks. Multi-vendor orchestration will become a core competence for most MSPs, who will differentiate based on their ability to blend a broad spectrum of solutions into a cohesive system of capabilities. Tim Tang, director, Enterprise Solutions
The Rise of IoT Capabilities
Most vendors are now building IoT capabilities into their devices which include cloud-based platforms that interact regularly with the devices for status and control and also act as a secure interface for access and management. Due to security challenges, direct access to devices is being replaced by “proxy access” via these cloud-based platforms, which are often vendor-specific. This new paradigm further complicates the enterprise, even as it simplifies device access. As an example, five years ago cameras were using static IP addresses. A staff member would go directly to a URL on the camera to view or retrieve video feeds. Today, these same cameras store feeds locally and when necessary, call back to cloud-based servers for video retrieval. Viewing camera footage in real time or historically is now done by accessing cloud-servers. Frank Kelly, VP
With each round of annual predictions and trends that Hughes leaders share, it’s evident the expanding ways that connectivity, technologies and services are not just fundamental but essential to how businesses of every size and sector operate and thrive.