What tech should you invest in for 2024? A guide for different budgets

As business leaders begin to lay out their budgets for the coming year, the technology investment options can be overwhelming. Here, tech expert and our regular columnist Bernard Marr shares his tips on where to start

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In today’s rapidly evolving digital age, technology has become a driving force behind most successful businesses. The dilemma, however, lies in determining which technologies warrant investment now and which can be deferred, particularly when budgets are tight. In this article, we’ll delve into the pivotal areas to invest in for small, medium and large budgets ahead of 2024.

Of course, any technology investment has to be aligned with your overarching business strategy. It’s not merely about adopting the latest tech trends; it’s about ensuring each technological leap aligns harmoniously with your business goals, priorities, and unique challenges. While the allure of cutting-edge technologies can be tempting, it’s crucial to understand their tangible impact on your business operations. Having said that, not all technologies are created equal. Some are more important to businesses than others. So I want to look at the key technologies available to businesses today and assess which ones to invest in.

Foundational technologies: the base of modern business

In the constantly shifting digital landscape of our times, it is important to understand the foundational technologies before discussing any specific budgetary strategies. These technologies act as the bedrock, underpinning businesses of all magnitudes and enabling next-level technologies.

Networks and connectivity

You know how we all want everything now? Like, yesterday? That’s the digital age doing its magic. But here’s the thing: a slight glitch, a little delay, and bam! Businesses can get a nasty hit to their reputation. So, what’s the solution? Businesses need fast, secure networks and connectivity, not just in their offices but also on the go. This brings us to 5G, which is not merely about outpacing its predecessors. This latest iteration in mobile network technology is transformative. While it promises swift connections, its true potential lies in acting as the cornerstone for cutting-edge technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous vehicles, and augmented reality. With 5G, businesses can leverage the advantages of low latency and high bandwidth, paving the way for real-time collaborations, no matter the geographical distance, thereby knitting global operations closer than ever before.

Data management

Moving on to the importance of data, here you can draw parallels between data and the digital oil fuelling the modern business landscape. However, merely amassing vast quantities of data isn’t the endgame. Its true essence is unlocked when this data is aptly interpreted and applied. Successful businesses of today don’t just stop at collecting data. They harness the prowess of advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to metamorphose this raw data into tangible insights. By assimilating proprietary data with external datasets, businesses can gain a comprehensive perspective of their operations, emerging market trends, and nuanced customer preferences. This meticulous approach to data management acts as a guiding compass, ensuring businesses don’t drift aimlessly in the vast ocean of information but navigate with precision towards well-informed decisions.


Another foundational need is cybersecurity. With the increasing digitisation of business operations, vulnerabilities have inevitably crept in. Threats aren’t limited to ransomware attacks that can paralyse a company’s entire data infrastructure or intricate phishing schemes that can erode hard-earned customer trust. They are diverse, continually evolving, and can strike when least expected. Relying on reactive measures, like mending a system post-breach, has become archaic. The need of the hour is a proactive approach. This entails not just familiarising yourself with emerging threat landscapes but also deploying advanced threat detection mechanisms. It involves training the workforce, ensuring they can discern and nullify potential threats. In the intricate dance of cybersecurity, the best defensive moves often lie in being prepared and proactive.

These foundational technologies aren’t just techie things or buzzwords. They’re the very bricks-and-mortar of today’s business world. Think of them as the solid base of a skyscraper in this ever-buzzing digital city we’re all part of. 

Advanced technologies: powering the next business frontier

Once the foundational tech is in place, businesses can layer more advanced technologies to supercharge performance.

Artificial intelligence (AI)

By far the most important advanced technology for businesses today is artificial intelligence. AI isn’t all about cranking out lightning-fast calculations or intricate algorithms. It’s about sculpting those formidable capabilities into rock-solid business solutions. Take AI’s uncanny ability for personalisation, for instance. Whether you’re plotting a marketing strategy, shaping a product, or rolling out a brand-new service, AI dives headfirst into heaps of data, sniffs out patterns we might miss, and crafts solutions that fit like a glove. Then there’s the daily grind. Mundane tasks that used to gobble up hours? AI’s got them covered, ushering in a new era of automation. 

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With predictive analytics in its toolkit, AI isn’t just reacting – it’s foreseeing. It’s plotting out tomorrow’s trends while we’re still wrapping our heads around today’s. And for those who like to mix business with a dash of creativity, generative AI is a game-changer. Generative AI cannot only churn out written content but also images, melodies, computer code, new designs, and entire 3D worlds. It’s not just about crunching numbers; it’s about crafting experiences and opening doors we didn’t even know were there. In the bustling world of business, AI is both the compass and the ship, navigating and propelling firms into uncharted waters.

The immersive internet

If you’re still thinking of the internet as a bunch of web pages, think again. We’re cruising into a universe that’s as interactive as it gets. AR and VR, once the stuff of sci-fi, are now business tools. Imagine house-hunting with virtual property tours or trying out outfits in an AR-driven dressing room! And then there’s the concept of digital twins – virtual doppelgangers for everything real. Businesses can play out scenarios, test theories and iron out kinks without real-world risks. But perhaps the showstopper is the Metaverse, a sprawling virtual realm blending AR, VR, and the good ol’ internet. It’s like a new frontier for businesses to connect, advertise and roll out services.

Decentralisation through blockchain

Okay, so when most people hear ‘blockchain’, they think Bitcoin. But that’s just scratching the surface. Blockchain’s genius is its decentralised design. This design is like a beacon of transparency. Every move, every transaction is there for all to see, building an unprecedented level of trust. Imagine the potential for sectors where authenticity is king. And it’s not just transparent, it’s tough as nails. With its decentralised makeup, blockchain gives hackers a run for their money. But don’t just pin it down to crypto. We’re talking smart contracts, crystal-clear supply chains, foolproof identity checks… the possibilities are staggering.

Quantum computing

Welcome to the future of computing, where quantum rules. This isn’t your everyday computer, this is a beast. Thanks to quantum bits, or qubits, these machines can multitask like nothing else. Think of a problem that’d stump conventional computers for ages, and a quantum computer could crack it over a coffee break. It’s a game-changer for sectors swimming in complex data, like pharmaceuticals or logistics. And while it’s true that quantum computing might give current security methods a headache, it also brings to the table quantum encryption as a fresh take on keeping communication watertight.

Investment strategies based on budgets: navigating the digital frontier

The digital age offers a tantalising buffet of technologies. But like any buffet, it’s not about grabbing everything in sight; it’s about making the right choices based on what you can afford and what you truly need. Let’s break it down based on budget sizes, ensuring every dollar you spend gets you the most tech bang for your buck.

Small budget

Venturing into the digital domain with a tight budget? No sweat. Start with the basics. Solidifying foundational tech is key. This means beefing up network connectivity to ensure seamless operations, getting your data management house in order, and ensuring your digital walls are fortified against cyber threats. 

And hey, while the funds might be limited, don’t count out the game-changers. AI, for example, isn’t just for the big players. Even on a shoestring, directing some resources into AI can pack a punch, unlocking efficiencies and insights that can propel a business forward. Generative AI, in particular, has scalable options. Imagine creating customised marketing content or design solutions with minimal input. That’s the power of generative tech. It delivers big results even with modest investments.

Medium budget

With a bit more financial muscle to flex, it’s time to up the ante. Level up your connectivity game with the magic of 5G, ensuring faster, smoother and more robust connections. Data, the lifeblood of modern business, deserves a deeper dive. Consider optimised cloud and edge capabilities to safeguard and access your data effortlessly, and think about integrating external datasets to enrich your insights. 

Beyond that, go all in on AI. Ensure you implement AI to automate and improve your business processes and to make your products and services more intelligent and more personalised. And of course, going all in on AI also means adding a generative AI aspect to your business. And remember, the tech frontier is vast so why not start exploring it? Technologies like extended reality (XR) and blockchain might seem futuristic, but they’re becoming more accessible and essential. Setting some foundational blocks now could position you perfectly for the next tech wave.

Large budget

If your pockets are deep, the digital playground is truly yours to explore. We’re talking best-in-class connectivity solutions, ensuring not a byte is out of place. In the realm of data, think big. Build a repository that includes not just your data but synthetic data and a dash of the expansive world – like satellite-driven Earth observation data. 

AI shouldn’t be an afterthought; make it your business’s centrepiece, driving everything from operations to innovations. Dive headlong into XR, bringing unparalleled immersive experiences to your stakeholders, especially in the shape of digital twins. While you’re at it, get acquainted with Web3, the next layer of the internet’s evolution, and keep those peepers trained on quantum computing. It’s not just about riding the wave; it’s about being the wave.

Always remember, in the world of tech investments, it’s not always about having the biggest wallet; it’s about spending smart, looking ahead, and ensuring every technology choice propels you closer to your business goals.