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With a new year around the corner, it’s high time to summarize both turbulent and interesting 2023 and look into the future. What are the main challenges companies have been – and still are – facing and what are the technologies that could help meet them?

Businesses have been up against a lot in 2023. Navigating in an unpredictable world requires agility and transformation capabilities beyond what I have ever witnessed before. Those that are slow to respond, or fail to anticipate changes, risk losing revenue and profitability. The challenges aren’t merely putting extensive pressure though; for forward-thinkers, they also present an opportunity to advance business by doing things in new, smarter ways.

Obstacles – and new opportunities

All our customers, regardless of industry, are investing in new technologies to empower transformation. It’s about productivity and efficiency, but also innovation and sustainability, a common thread knitting together many initiatives. In 2024, I believe these areas will be a top priority for companies in the Nordics:

  • Gen AI revolutionizes industries. Gen AI technologies have created a paradigm shift in most industries. According to IDC, 65 percent of EMEA C-suite executives mention Gen AI as a top investment priority in the short term. Currently, we have 150+ Gen AI clients and among the pilots are some interesting initiatives in the banking/insurance sector, where we’ve leveraged Gen AI to deliver tangible productivity and accuracy improvements. As part of our AI efforts, we launched the Neuro AI platform this year, aimed at helping enterprises adopt Gen AI technology and harness its business value. We will invest $1 billion in Gen AI over three years, covering platform, personnel, partnerships, IT and mergers and acquisitions. We also launched Cognizant Ocean, where we utilize Gen AI to empower aquaculture, shipping, offshore renewable energy and carbon sequestration.
  • Tech-enabled ESG a must. Sustainability has reached the C-suite agenda. In IDC’s 2023 CEO study, ESG is named the primary business risk. Tech is the main enabler; nearly half of the 800 European companies surveyed will spend more than 10 percent of IT budgets on sustainability. In general, Nordic leaders are more likely to recognize the key role of tech, data and analysis in advancing sustainability projects. While ahead of the league, there is still a strong call for governance, creating the right KPIs and ensuring people are incentivized to achieve them. What about AI’s role in sustainability? Cognizant/Oxford Economics’ Deep Green report states that 58 percent of respondents have implemented AI/ML technologies to improve environmental sustainability. 75 percent name that investment effective or highly effective. The same study shows that Intelligent automation currently is #1 for boosting sustainability.
  • Transforming ESG with cloud. Adapting to the new landscape, it’s not “only” about doing good; economic and competitive advantages await ahead. Seizing the sustainability opportunity, however, requires new operating models supported by new data flows. This requires a strong cloud-enabled and AI-driven foundation. Data is key, but only 15 percent have a systematic data collection process in place to identify and collect the data needed for climate-related risk management. From what I see, companies that utilize cloud get a head start, showing increased capabilities in four crucial domains for successful ESG integration: faster time to market, innovation capabilities, risk reduction and scalability. Check out how we helped Swedbank with its cloud-first journey.

To remain competitive, businesses must be willing to transform through new tools/systems and upskilling/reskilling of employees. Hard work indeed, but the positive outcomes include new value from data, enhanced resilience, and achieving ESG goals while driving growth. And, if you ask me, no alternative route seems that attractive. 

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