The last quarter of the year slowly comes to a close paving way for a new year, bringing into the fore some new trends and topics to consider.
The landscape of modern work underwent tremendous changes in 2023, with many organizations incorporating remote work into their company culture, while some others – often larger corporations – mandating a full or partial return to the office. For the most part, however, remote work and digital collaboration moved on from being the trendy keywords and become the norm.
In this article, we will explore the key trends to look out for in cloud collaboration in general and Microsoft 365 governance in particular as we enter the new year.
Collaboration Beyond Boundaries
One of the most significant shifts in recent years is the borderless nature of collaboration. As remote and hybrid work models become the standard, tools that support seamless collaboration are expanding rapidly. On the Microsoft end, this is evident from the numerous big strides this year, from an extensive suite of Viva tools to the most recent Microsoft Copilot launch. Other SaaS communication and collaboration tools, be it Zoom, Notion, Dropbox, Trello to name a few, made significant upgrades to cater to the ever-growing market needs.
In the years to come, we can only expect to see improvements in real-time collaboration and enhanced communication capabilities to bridge geographical and technological gaps.
Security and Compliance is here to stay
As much as one would like, data breaches and cyber threats aren’t exactly a thing of the past. This year's motto of the European Cybersecurity Month Campaign is #BeSmarterThanAHacker and for good reason. Ensuring the security and compliance of your organization's data is paramount. Microsoft has been continually improving the security features of Microsoft 365, and this trend is only set to continue.
Advancements in identity and access management, data protection, and threat detection to keep your organization's data safe and compliant are to be anticipated. It is important to have an overview of all externally shared files, and keep a check on external and guest user status to make sure that sensitive organizational data is not compromised. A third-party tool such as Rencore Governance provides maximum flexibility and efficiency in managing external collaboration across Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive, Loop, Entra ID, Exchange, Viva Engage, and Power Platform.
In a recent blog article, we talk more about the security-related nightmares for IT administrators, including internal security risks such as lack of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to external threats such as data breaches, social engineering and ransom attacks.
AI and Machine Learning Integration
One of the much anticipated and celebrated initiatives this year has undoubtedly been the rise of Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), that are revolutionizing cloud collaboration and the way we work. These technologies are being integrated to automate tasks, predict user behavior, and enhance productivity. Features like automated content categorization, intelligent search, and predictive analytics will be increasingly essential for efficient collaboration and governance.
In a report on strategic technology trends to look out for in 2024, Gartner predicts that all things AI will be a huge topic for companies in 2024, especially for enterprises. According to the report, in 2026, more than 80% of enterprises will have used GenAI APIs or models or deployed GenAI-enabled applications in production environments, up from less than 5% in 2023.
In November, after months of special access, Copilot was made available for general access. AI powered tools will play a central role in 2024, assisting teams work more efficiently and productively, normalizing their usage in varied industries and roles.
AI security and risk management
With more access to AI tools, organizations that prioritize security of the company data must have a risk assessment and management plan in place. Given that most organizations use third-party AI applications and tools, data protection and privacy concerns shouldn’t be an afterthought, but key concerns that need to be addressed early on while adopting incorporating AI tools.
AI governance - the ability to direct, manage and monitor the AI activities of an organization – builds a framework as to what the AI tool can do and define what kind of data it can access. Many organizations are jumping on the AI bandwagon without having AI governance in place, but what such a framework provides is increased transparency and ethical behaviour.
Low-code, no-code solutions
Facilitating democratized access to cloud services is a growing trend, which is predicted to solidify in the coming years. Low-code, no-code platforms that support a broader range of application development use cases will find more takers. Many companies already use low-code, no-code solutions such as within Power Platform to cater to their governance needs. In this case, very little manual coding is needed, except to add custom elements to applications. If not in line with the governance policies, this can easily lead to shadow IT, thereby introducing security risks.
Download our free whitepaper on Power Platform governance best practices here.
Gartner predicts that by 2027, 25% of CIOs will see their personal compensation linked to their sustainable technology impact. What has led to this point - among others - is decades of work in understanding the role of sustainability in IT sector.
Environmental concerns are shaping the tech industry, and over the years, Microsoft has been one of the pioneers in prioritizing sustainable IT, as evident from their commitment to powering cloud data centers purely by renewable energy sources by 2025 and be carbon negative by 2030. The company is making significant strides in sustainability, focusing on reducing carbon emissions and promoting green initiatives. As we move into the new year, we can expect to see more sustainability features integrated into Microsoft 365, as evidenced by Satya Nadella’s keynote address at Microsoft Ignite in November, where he stated that by 2025, 100% of energy used in Microsoft datacenters will be from zero-carbon sources.
Read more about the keynotes at Microsoft Ignite 2023 on our blog.
Environment, Social, Governance (ESG)
ESG stands for Environmental, Social, Governance, the three pillars that make up the now-widely-used framework. ESG metrics are increasingly influencing both business decisions and investor preferences, the other two pillars rise in prominence as well. Investors are now associating companies with strong ESG performance with lower risks and better long-term prospects. Although a huge part of the growth of ESG could be attributed to the environmental pillar due to the responses to climate change initiatives in recent years, there is now greater understanding of the social and governance pillars.
As we approach the year-end, the developments throughout the year all indicate that the upcoming challenges for organisations implementing cloud collaboration will be more diverse than ever.
Staying updated with these challenges and integrating them into your organization's strategy will be key to thriving in the ever-evolving digital landscape. With the rise in cloud collaboration tools comes the need for a systematic governance strategy. Demand for simplified solutions to monitor, report and resolve a growing number of governance challenges is set to keep growing, calling for user-friendly, comprehensive and automated tools to take the burden off IT administrators.
One such solution is our award-winning tool Rencore Governance that covers a wide range of use cases for your businesses. If you’re curious about what our tool can do for you, feel free to start a free trial and check out for yourselves!