Against the backdrop of a global energy crisis, challenging economic outlook and ongoing war in Ukraine, Neil Patel European Marketing Director of D-Link's gives his tech predictions for 2023.

Against the backdrop of a global energy crisis, challenging economic outlook and ongoing war in Ukraine, Neil Patel European Marketing Director of D-Link's gives his tech predictions for 2023.

While there remains a great deal of uncertainty, we are likely to see areas such as 5G, WPA3 and POE forge ahead.

The Power of PoE

Office and home office environments have become of equal importance in recent years, with at least one person in the household now likely to be working or studying from home during the week. In 2023, convenience and comfort of the home office will take a back seat to creating a smarter, cost- and energy-efficient environment and Power over ethernet (PoE) can offer households a solution.

Power over ethernet (PoE) is a technology for implementing wired ethernet local area networks (LANs), enabling the electrical current needed to operate each device to be carried by ethernet data cables instead of the usual wiring and electrical power cords. PoE carries both power and data over ethernet cable, giving consumers the scope to power connected technologies in a more efficient and cost-effective way. Take, for example, smart lighting in the home. Scheduling when the lights turn on and off can offer peace of mind if you’re on vacation, while automated switching off when no motion is detected in a room can save on energy bills.

As homes become smarter, the demands on connectivity increase and copper becomes a rarer commodity, PoE offers a long-term advantage. We anticipate the next evolution of PoE to be a push for higher power distribution through the wire, but before that happens, we expect more consumers will understand the value, convenience and scope that this streamlined, seamless technology has to offer.

Supply to finally catch up with demand?

Microchip supply chain issues have been causing serious concerns for the entire technology industry in recent years, and for good reason.

A recent report by Accenture predicted that the supply chain challenges – including the microchip shortage – could result in a potential €920 billion cumulative loss to the gross domestic product (GDP) across the Eurozone by 2023, arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Lead times for some advanced chips needed for medical devices, telecommunications and cybersecurity systems has reportedly extended to approximately 52 weeks, compared to a previous average of 27 weeks, according to data from Everstream – and this doesn’t, of course, factor in product manufacturing time.

In addition to impacting the ability to produce and meet the demand for existing products, the lack of chip availability has meant a reduction in the capacity to develop new products. Older generations of chips that are used in the manufacture of white goods, for example, are made using equipment that has been used for several years. Innovative new components that run AI models and render graphics in the latest smartphones and computers, however, require cutting-edge technology to manufacture.

While this all paints a challenging picture, things may be looking up. With the cost of chips being reduced and consumer spending cooling down for a myriad of reasons, supply may yet catch up with the demand in 2023. While there are immediate challenges to navigate, we are likely to see the pressure taken off the microchip industry next year.

5G and the wi-fi utopia

Despite networks continuing to roll out 5G across Europe, a true 5G experience will still take some time as the infrastructure needed to fully support the service is yet to be deployed. With the demand for faster speeds and lower latencies increasing, we will see a rapid uptake of wi-fi6 and 6E as SMBs and consumers alike seek to bridge the connectivity gap.

Alongside this, anticipation is also mounting for wi-fi7. Not only does wi-fi7 promise drastically faster speeds and reduction in latency to radically improve the reliability and responsiveness of connected devices, the critical differentiator between wi-fi7-enabled devices and legacy generations is the concurrent access to multiple wireless bands. Currently, devices usually choose one band to make transmissions, switching to another based on the availability of the connection. With multi-link operation (MLO) however, wi-fi7-enabled devices can simultaneously connect on two bands – making more efficient use of the available data to optimise the reliability of the connection and deliver ultra-low latencies.

Unfortunately, we are some way away from this wi-fi utopia. It is nevertheless prudent for both businesses and consumers to start preparing to support the new era of connectivity by updating legacy systems and devices. As hybrid working practices become more entrenched, both businesses and workers will depend upon reliable connectivity, particularly as cloud computing and mobile commerce become more ubiquitous.

Wi-fi protected access 3 and the realities of security

With flexible and hybrid working models now the norm, more enterprises will need to address the security challenges of a remote workforce to take their digitalisation journey to the next level. As a result of this growing need to enhance protections, the adoption of wi-fi protected access 3 (WPA3) for wireless security is likely to accelerate, both in the home and in offices.

WPA3 is the latest generation in mainstream security for wireless networks. It will eventually take over from the current WPA2 to become the enhanced standard for wireless security for enterprises and end users from client to cloud.

But unfortunately, the reality of secure access is much more complex.

People’s homes are filled with a combination of new and old devices that utilise encryption technologies provided by the internet service provider (ISP)’s router. ISPs are not in the habit of upgrading routers on a regular basis, so many households still utilise what was given to them when they first took out their contract. Older routers aren’t able to support newer security protocols like WPA3, so the security outlook is – unsurprisingly – a pressing concern for enterprises.

In 2023, we are likely to see businesses attempt to heighten existing security measures and technological infrastructures to better navigate the security challenges of employees working from home. It is prudent for this to include mandated security protocols to protect all devices connected to the network, whatever they may be used for. This can include keeping device operating systems up to date, understanding how much a home network is supporting, ensuring that home networks are running the latest and most sophisticated technology, setting up a completely separate intrastate for hybrid working and providing remote desktop access via dongles or VPNs.

While there is no silver bullet when it comes to security, implementing clear guidelines and protocols will help ensure all members of an organisation are, at the very least, actively aware of how to keep their workplaces and homes safe.

The digital transformation of education

While the digitalisation journey of educational institutions had been gaining pace in the past decade, as with most industries, it was the pandemic that provided the catalyst to accelerate the adoption of fully digital classrooms.

A concerted effort to support the digital transformation of the education sector is also being made by the European Commission. In order to empower teachers to develop their digital competence in the classroom, the Commission, alongside industry experts from across Europe, developed a free online tool for primary and secondary teachers. Named SELFIE for Teachers, the tool gives teachers the opportunity to reflect on how they are using digital tools and technologies, obtain feedback and tips and plan for further training and support.

We can expect to see further initiatives that promote a ‘digital first’ approach to education from both the public and private sectors. But to execute a reliable and effective digital experience, IT teams not only need to ensure their networks are equipped for emerging technologies, but also be able to meet the connectivity demands of the student and staff network.

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This requires investment at a time when the operational costs of organisations will be markedly increasing. Universities, historically, are not hesitant about investing in expensive technologies, and can almost veer towards over-engineering their networks. Schools, however, particularly those that are government-funded, will have budget challenges that will be amplified further in 2023.

The education sector is nevertheless likely to continue embracing digital-first education models in 2023 and beyond. Though it will still be some time before it can be realised to its full potential.

IT training in healthcare

The pandemic saw an unprecedented acceleration of digital transformation in the healthcare industry across Europe and the rest of the world, with telehealth services, medical apps and platforms rapidly introduced to serve patients remotely.

In fact, a Europe-wide study by Deloitte on the digital transformation of the sector estimates that the pandemic accelerated the digitalisation of healthcare by at least a decade. Nearly 65% of the 1,800 clinicians surveyed said that their organisation had increased its adoption of digital technologies to support clinicians’ ways of working and 64.3% said their organisation had increased its adoption of digital technologies to provide virtual support and ways of engaging with patients in response to the pandemic.

With COVID-19-related hospitalisations under control, medical practitioners across Europe are now navigating the backlog of delayed diagnoses, operations, and other in-person procedures. As a result, healthcare systems across Europe are facing unprecedented pressure and this is likely to continue well into 2023.

Hospitals function on their technological infrastructure and don’t run to their best potential without it. However, simply having the best technology systems in place isn’t enough, especially when having to contend with mounting pressure to deliver optimal care in minimal time. Without sufficient training and education to utilise the tools to best effect, problems are likely to arise, so in order to continue delivering valuable and life-saving services, healthcare providers need to ensure that training is a bigger priority.