Breadcrumb navigation

Supercharge Your 2024:

NEC’s byte-sized guide to the future of technology

Disruption and change have been a constant theme throughout 2023. As we cast an eye on the year ahead, the growing presence of generative artificial intelligence (AI) and its role in the sustainability sphere continue to gain influence. Bridging the gap between physical and digital realities will become the top priority for businesses, individuals, and society as a whole.

In 2024, generative AI is expected to become truly transformative, entrenching itself into people’s everyday applications, including search engines, office software or even design tools. Understanding how to leverage it for greater productivity, not only safely but sustainably, will become more important for the entire population, not just the tech industry.

Let's delve into the top tech trends that are set to make a significant impact in the coming year and find out why in spite of the economic downturn, investing in digital transformation should become an absolute necessity for your business.

1. Generative AI: Unleashing the power of intelligence

To date, most AI innovations have focused on increasing efficiency and reducing resources spent on administrative tasks, such as scheduling, compliance and organisation. In the coming years, we foresee that generative AI will create an unprecedented impact on the way we work, live, think and create.

New innovations in the form of text, images, music and even code have emerged in recent months. As conversational large language models (LLM) like ChatGPT become more accessible to the wider public, we expect to see greater adoption of this groundbreaking technology in 2024.

As a pioneer in the AI industry for over 50 years, NEC has extensive expertise in Japan’s LLM research and development, particularly in the area of generative AI with high Japanese language proficiency, specifically targeted at Japanese business owners and decision makers. Supporting this growing interest, NEC recently announced a world-first integration between generative AI LLM and video recognition AI. This technology can recognise faces or objects in videos and use them to create a coherent description, with potential applications in producing accident reports or work logs based on dashcam or factory footage.

2. Workspaces of the Future: Enhanced collaboration and efficiency

As we anticipate the unveiling of our revamped generative AI services this year, the possibilities extend beyond just creativity. Organisational collaboration and work efficiency are other aspects that are forecast to benefit from this development. Industry surveys show that 85% of business leaders expect to increase their investments in real estate technology over the next three years, with many stating their willingness to pay a premium for workplaces with advanced technology.

At NEC, we recognise the value of this shifting trend, which is demonstrated in our partnership with YAZAKI HAIPHONG VIETNAM LTD. Being a global leader in facial recognition technology, we worked with them to leverage the power of biometrics, and create a better workplace for their employees. Together, we implemented the Smart Bike Parking Solution, which automatically matches the faces of employees and the information in their ID cards. When employees enter the parking area and tap their ID card over a reader at the automated gate, facial recognition technology scans and matches their faces. At the same time, another AI-assisted camera scans their license plate and verifies them against the company database. This helps to ease bike parking congestion, enhance work environment security, increase worker productivity, and reduce dissatisfaction.

3. Customer Experiences: Delivering greater engagement and satisfaction

Besides enterprise innovations, generative AI also has the ability to enhance the customer experience, their satisfaction with businesses. Within the wealth management industry, AI adoption has come a long way in recent years, especially in the back and middle offices of financial institutions. Its ability to sort vast datasets, automate repetitive processes and accurately identify outliers already helps with payment fraud prevention and anti-money laundering.

More recently, this has shifted to the front and investment office as well, according to Gery Dachlan, Commercial Head of Asia Pacific, the Middle East & Africa at Avaloq, a leading provider of wealth management technology. He highlighted the use of virtual assistants to support relationship managers in certain tasks like basic account opening processes or enquiries about a financial institution’s house view on a specific market. This enables them to serve a larger and more diverse client base amid an ongoing talent shortage in the wealth management industry. Virtual assistant technology based on natural language processing (NLP) can also help to ensure quicker response times by suggesting next best actions to the relationship manager, which improves client satisfaction.

4. Smart Hospitality: Unveiling a new era of hotel experiences

Such innovations extend to product hardware and infrastructure, providing a holistic user journey for our customers. In the international hospitality and leisure industry, technology has become the catalyst and prime condition for success. With NEC’s Smart Hospitality solutions such as Smart Check-In and Smart Cruise, the bar for leisure experiences has been elevated to heights that can only be reached with the usage of modern technologies.

Smart Check-In solution is currently available in more than 20 countries, and plans are in the works to expand to more countries in future.

Waiting in line for your hotel check-ins is a thing of the past. NEC’s Smart Check-In solution provides an easy-to-use, automated, self-service interface, which walks guests through the check in/check-out process. Guests can simply head to a kiosk, verify their identity, pull up their reservation information, and get their room keys in a few seamless steps. These innovations have allowed us to partner with industry pioneers like JEN by Shangri-La Orchard Gateway and JEN by Shangri-La Tanglin, both of which have already implemented Smart Check-In in the hope of delivering a smoother customer experience.

5. Cybersecurity: An absolute necessity

With such rapidly changing developments in the AI space, the threat of crime and tech misuse looms large. Deepfakes and other malicious applications are being used to get around voice and facial recognition access controls, or even used as part of phishing scams. In 2024, Accenture estimates that the cost of a cybercrime incidents will increase by 15% compared to just two years ago. Such forecasts provide a stronger impetus for businesses to invest in advanced security technologies to protect their assets.

At NEC, we believe that taking a proactive stance against cyber attacks starts with our Security Operation Centers (SOC). 24/7 monitoring enables us to mitigate risk and defend against threats. Our alliance with strategic partner LAC allows us to reinforce our SOC capabilities with its cyber threat intelligence expertise, helping us to establish comprehensive incident response services for our clients.

We have also introduced a fully automated managed security service, targeted at small and medium enterprises (SMEs). This scalable managed security solution is delivered directly with cloud technology, providing SMEs with round-the-clock monitoring and surveillance of their IT infrastructure. With such innovations, we hope to share our expertise and knowledge in fighting digital threats and support businesses of all sizes in their cyber protection.

6. Sustainable AI: Balancing innovation and environmental impact

The growing impact of climate change is undeniable and is driving companies to embrace green tech. A PwC study showed that 4 in 10 CEOs believe that switching to green technologies is necessary to ensure the sustainable future of their businesses. These include innovations that reduce energy consumption, emissions, and waste. From renewable energy sources to sustainable materials, these developments are crucial for a greener future.

At NEC, we demonstrate this commitment to a cleaner and greener future with our flexible and customisable AI solutions. In June 2023, we launched Aspire NetZero, an AI-enabled, SaaS-based energy reduction solution. Aspire NetZero is designed to support mobile network operators in reducing unnecessary energy consumption in the Radio Access Network (RAN). The solution is vendor-agnostic, which means it can be adapted to each mobile operator’s requirements while supporting 3G, 4G, and 5G – Read more here

At the same time, we recognise that the new circular economy, more products and services will be offered in the form of Everything as a Service (EaaS). This will include the existing forms of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offerings. As we become more integrated into an internet of things (IoT) connected world, sustainability will become even more critical. We foresee that end-user devices like mobile phones, PCs and cars will be offered on a subscription or pay-per-use basis. At NEC, we hope to contribute to this sustainable future, in which recycling, reusing, and sharing becomes the norm.

7. Digital Health Tech

Along with generative AI, the adoption of digital health tools is one of the measures NEC has been working on that will likely have a pivotal role in 2024. For two decades, our AI Drug Development Division has been using machine learning to help develop immunotherapy treatments for cancer patients. With an ageing population around the world, together with the persistent presence of influenza viruses, we foresee a growing global demand for the use of AI in developing novel vaccines and treatments. One key market is Thailand, where seniors are expected to account for 30% of the population by 2040.

In 2022, NEC Thailand first rolled out the Mimamori system (“watch over and protect” in Japanese) with a nursing home in Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second largest city. The system featured an online care plan manager for digitising records, and a mobile app alerting families of updates in patients’ conditions. This is done through data visualisations of patients’ health situations, allowing seamless understanding between patients’ families and care workers.

The success of this system has paved the way for a further three ongoing proof-of-concept projects, in partnership with well-known healthcare providers and academia in the country. In the long term, NEC is hopeful that the rollout of our digital services can help to enhance the state of elderly healthcare in Thailand.

8. Mixed Reality

The benefits of virtual and augmented reality have long been extolled, but did you know that they have a vital role to play in ensuring safety and security too? Industry studies show that VR trainees absorb knowledge four times more quickly than classroom learners, expanding the usability of such technologies. Here at NEC, we have a record of developing VR solutions for corporate applications, like training for atypical work sites and simulations for usability testing.

Eyeing this potential, one of Japan’s largest airlines has partnered NEC to use VR technology to enhance their flight attendant safety training. NEC has the expertise to advise industry partners on the use of technology to simulate real-life training situations. As part of this partnership, new flight attendants were trained on three distinct emergency scenarios: internal cabin fire, sudden depressurisation, and in-flight equipment check.

With the Metaverse, we also see enormous potential in business applications and have been developing immersive content for customers. Our APAC team has developed a demo that showcases the future of transportation in the virtual world, with innovations like facial recognition payment systems. By eliminating limits on time and space, and allowing humans and AI to work together, we hope to streamline the future of work, allowing people to enjoy brighter and more enriched lives.

New Year, New Tech

In 2024, we can see the numerous exciting developments spearheaded by AI, not just in the field of biometrics, but also in delivering improved customer experiences. Other tech trends like digital health tech, 5G growth, and mixed reality can help to amplify the impact of AI across a wider audience.

These emerging trends are just a glimpse into the transformative technologies that could shape our world in 2024. As technology continues to evolve at an unprecedented pace, NEC wants you to stay informed and adapt to the ever-changing landscape together. By embracing these advancements, we can harness the power of technology to create a more connected, sustainable, and prosperous future.

January 18, 2024