Strategies for Managing Digital and Cyber Trends in 2023

The new year is booted and running, destined to bring solutions and challenges that will impact all industries. As the floundering economy continues to hopscotch around broken supply chains and the worsening cybersecurity breakdowns, businesses and analysts alike are sharpening their focus on what lies ahead.

One of the most critical areas is the need for more effective defenses to safeguard the cyber infrastructure. Politics aside, Executive Order 14028, issued in May 2021, made clear the priorities. President Biden’s order requires agencies to improve their security to secure the integrity of the software supply chain.

“Software vendors can no longer hide their shortcomings, and software users can no longer hide from their responsibilities if they choose to deploy something inappropriate,” Jon Geater, chief product and technology officer at Rkvst, a SaaS platform for tracking supply chain issues.

With still a way to go, he sees the digital supply chain finally being recognized equally as critical as the physical one. Geater also sees a vital need for suppliers to provide quality and for consumers to take control of their own risk.

“Companies and governments around the world are waking up to the fact that the software they use to run their enterprise operations and power the hardware and software solutions that they use and deliver to customers represents a significant risk,” he offered.

Core Technologies Top Priority

The current political and macroeconomic situations are even worse than most people predicted, and that is having a cooling effect on innovation, Geater noted.

People will focus more on cost-cutting and efficiencies. However, that will not diminish the importance of the core technologies being developed.

“But it does shift the emphasis from new use cases, such as active cyber defense, to improving existing use cases like more efficient audits,” he said.”

Geater suggested that most supply chain problems come from mistakes or oversights that originate in the supply chain itself, and that opens the target to traditional cyberattacks.

“It is a subtle difference but an important one. I believe that the bulk of discoveries arising from improvements in supply chain visibility [in 2023] will highlight that most threats arise from mistake, not malice,” Geater said.

Year of AI and ML

The new year will place a new focus on machine learning operations (MLOps), predicted Moses Guttmann, CEO and co-founder of ClearML, an MLOps platform. Taking stock of how machine learning has evolved as a discipline, technology, and industry is critical.

He expects artificial intelligence and machine learning spending to continue growing as companies seek ways to optimize rising investments and ensure value, especially in a challenging macroeconomic environment.

“We have seen plenty of top technology companies announce layoffs in the latter part of 2022. It is likely none of these companies are laying off their most talented machine learning personnel.

However, to fill the void of fewer people on deeply technical teams, companies will have to lean even further into automation to keep productivity up and ensure projects reach completion. He also expects to see companies that use ML technology put more systems into place to monitor and govern performance and make more data-driven decisions on how to manage ML or data science teams.

“With clearly defined goals, these technical teams will have to be more key performance indicators-centric, so leadership can have a more in-depth understanding of machine learning’s ROI. Gone are the days of ambiguous benchmarks for ML,” Guttmann said.

End of Talent Hoarding

Artificial intelligence and machine learning have become more common in the last decade. Those working with ML are likely the most recent hires as opposed to the more long-term staff who have been working with AI for years.

Many large tech companies began hiring these types of workers because they could handle the financial cost and keep them away from competitors — not necessarily because they were needed, Guttmann noted.

“From this perspective, it is not surprising to see so many ML workers being laid off, considering the surplus within larger companies. However, as the era of ML talent hoarding ends, it could usher in a new wave of innovation and opportunity for startups,” he observed.

With so much talent now looking for work, he expects to see many displaced workers trickle out of big tech and into small and medium-sized businesses or startups.

Cloudy Predictions

Drew Firment, vice president of enterprise strategies at Pluralsight, muses that fundamental cloud computing skills will remain the most relevant and in-demand worker needs for 2023. That is despite ML and AI getting the most attention.

According to Pluralsight’s State of Cloud report, 75% of tech leaders are building all new products and features in the cloud moving forward. Yet he noted that only 8% of technologists have significant cloud-related skills and experience.

Ironically, there will continue to be a lot of demand for lower-level cloud infrastructure skills because using those technologies successfully requires more people than the higher-level services do, added Mattias Andersson, principal developer advocate at Pluralsight.

“For example, many organizations now want to own and manage their own Kubernetes clusters, leading them to hire for Kubernetes administration skills when they could instead offload that to the cloud provider.

Tech Talent Shift

An expected shift from consumers of talent to creators of talent will be the key differentiator of cloud leaders in 2023, Firment added. Gartner reported that 50% of enterprise cloud migration would be delayed by two years or more due to the lack of cloud skills — directly impacting the ability of enterprises to achieve cloud maturity and a return on their technology investments.

“To overcome the challenges of cloud adoption, enterprises must invest as much effort migrating their talent to the cloud as they are in migrating their applications, Lift-and-shift migration strategies limit the benefits of cloud platforms, and the approach does not work well for workforce transformation either.”

Achieving a sustainable transition to cloud adoption and maturity requires enterprises to strategically invest in skills development programs designed to attain cloud fluency at critical mass, he urged.

Multi-Cloud Adoption

Avoiding vendor lock-in is an important goal for 2023. According to Andersson, that is the strategy now prevalent in the industry landscape. More enterprises are embracing multi-cloud by either design or happenstance.

“The increased adoption of multi-cloud will accelerate the demand for tools needed to manage the increased complexity as enterprises struggle to wrangle the span of their implementations. The trifecta of multi-cloud challenges and solutions that’ll trend in 2023 include security, cost, and operations,” Andersson said.

This will force another requirement on multi-cloud strategies, he added. Technologists must become multi-lingual across two or more cloud providers.

“With the existing shortage of cloud talent, expect the trend of multi-cloud strategy to add a further strain to the existing skills gap,” he predicted.

Open-Source Role

Focusing on ML operations, management, and governance will force MLOps teams to do more with less. According to Guttmann, businesses will adopt more off-the-shelf solutions because they are less expensive to produce, require less research time, and can be customized to fit most needs.

“MLOps teams will also need to consider open-source infrastructure instead of getting locked into long-term contracts with cloud providers. While organizations doing ML at hyper-scale can certainly benefit from integrating with their cloud providers, it forces these companies to work the way the provider wants them to work,” he explained.

That means that users might not be able to do what they want, the way you want, he warned. That also puts users at the mercy of the cloud provider for cost increases and upgrades.

On the other hand, open source delivers flexible customization, cost savings, and efficiency. Users can even modify open-source code to ensure it works exactly the way they want.

“Especially with teams shrinking across tech, this is becoming a much more viable option,” Guttmann concluded.


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