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An Agile Retrospective Approach to the Tech Year in Review

Summary: In this article, Carlos Meléndez reflects on the transformative year in technology, applying an Agile retrospective approach to the key developments of 2023. The focus includes the impact of generative artificial intelligence (GenAI), the shift towards prioritizing user experience, the expansion of tech innovation beyond traditional hubs, the evolving landscape of office life, and the increasing attention to regulatory oversight of artificial intelligence. Despite economic uncertainties and challenges, Meléndez anticipates another pivotal year for tech innovation and business transformation.

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No Agile sprint can be complete without the final step – a retrospective. It’s the time for reflecting on a project, noting what worked and what didn’t and identifying ways for future improvement. I was thinking of this as I sat down to write an article on the year in review for the Forbes Technology Council. I thought how fitting it would be to take a page from Agile, and conduct my own retrospective of the transformative year in technology. With this in mind, I created my own retrospective of the year in technology 2023, which I shared in my Forbes article.

The GenAI Craze Took the World by Storm

Virtually every other technology development of 2023 paled in comparison to the hype surrounding the advent of generative artificial intelligence (GenAI). According to Forrester, “Visionary tech execs will seize this opportunity with GenAI to strategically realign IT resources to unlock the immense creative potential within their teams—not just among developers but across all IT roles.”

While much of the tech industry was facing the consequences of an economic downturn and putting off many IT initiatives in 2023, GenAI was the bright star, reinvigorating the industry and pulling it out of its doldrums – and we can expect to see this continuing throughout 2024.

User Experience Became the Primary Focus

Stiffer competition for fewer customers with tighter budgets in 2023 forced software firms to pay close attention to keeping their customers happy and improving the user experience (UX). According to a PwC UK study, 90% of CEOs believe customers have the greatest impact on their business. In 2023, customers had more power in informing the design and capabilities of the technologies they use daily than at any other time. These customers also include end-users and employees interacting with technology who expect the same seamless and enjoyable digital experience in the office as in their daily lives.

Tech Sprawl Brought Innovation to New Areas

In October 2023, the Biden-Harris administration designated 32 Tech Hubs in regions across the country, including places such as New Hampshire, Colorado, Virginia, Illinois and Puerto Rico. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, “The program invests directly in burgeoning, high-potential U.S. regions and aims to transform them into globally competitive innovation centers.”

It’s refreshing to see that tech innovation is being recognized and supported beyond the confines of Silicon Valley – -and to have Puerto Rico recognized for this designation.

Office Life Resumed – But in a Different Way

During the pandemic, businesses made extreme efforts to enable work from home, investing in new systems, cloud migration and networking capabilities, which helped the tech industry experience record growth. In 2023, many organizations began hybrid working models and a gradual return to the office, and it’s expected that this trend will continue in 2024. In fact, According to Resume Builder, 90% of companies say they’ll return to the office by the end of 2024.

The Government Started Thinking Seriously About Regulatory Oversight of AI

Artificial intelligence took the world by storm in 2023, yet regulatory oversight was hardly able to keep pace. The U.S. government, as well as governments around the world, spent much of 2023 scrambling to understand AI, as well as the dangers it can cause.

This viewpoint was shared by industry leaders. In fact, in early 2023, more than 350 tech executives and scientists signed a joint statement to express their concerns and warn of the dangers of AI, going so far as to say it poses an “extinction risk,” on par with pandemics and nuclear war.

Economic Uncertainty Prevailed

What the tech industry was hoping for in 2023 was an end to high interest rates, economic instability and unemployment concerns. The IT buying frenzy of the pandemic gave way in 2023 to tighter reins on spend and many tech firms were impacted. IT spend required more proof of return on investment (ROI), longer sales cycles and more careful scrutiny.

Last year was a pivotal one for the tech industry, dominated by the advent of GenAI and all the opportunities and challenges it presents. Conducting a retrospective is a good way to look back at it all. Confucius said, “to define the future, one must study the past.” We’ve learned some great lessons from the past – and if history can tell us, we’re poised to have another pivotal year for tech innovation and business transformation.

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