Predictions 2024: Probing what’s in store for PC channel, MSPs

It is always good to have something to look forward to, and such will be the case next year for anyone in the channel involved in the selling of personal computers and accessories. We thus start off this particular crystal-ball gazing session with an upbeat prediction from Canalys.

Personal computers

According to the technology analyst firm, full-year 2024 personal computer shipments are forecast to hit 267 million units, an eight per cent rise from 2023, helped, the company said, by “tailwinds including the Windows refresh cycle and emergence of AI-capable and Arm-based devices.”

In a forecast released late last month, Canalys analyst Ben Yeh said the global PC market is on a recovery path, and set to return to 2019 shipment levels by next year. “The impact of AI on the PC industry will be profound, with leading players across OEMs, processor manufacturers, and operating system providers focused on delivering new AI-capable models in 2024,” he said. “These initiatives will bolster refresh demand, particularly in the commercial sector.”

The total shipment share of AI-capable PCs, he added, is “expected to be about 19 per cent in 2024. This accounts for all M-series Mac products alongside the nascent offerings expected in the Windows ecosystem. However, as more compelling use-cases emerge and AI functionality becomes an expected feature, Canalys anticipates a fast ramp up in the development and adoption of AI-capable PCs.”

In a research note released in September, Canalys analyst Keiren Jessop wrote that the “first deployments of AI-capable PCs to businesses will be limited to specific organization types and employee roles. Examples include research and development, developers, engineers, data analysts and artists.

“These early adopters will take advantage of AI-enabled PCs’ faster processing power when working on specific tasks. Game developers will be able to generate entire levels based on a small manually created section that the AI trains itself with.

“Designers can give the AI rough sketches to build and iterate on. Scientists will be able to run complex models faster, as the processing doesn’t have to do a round trip to the cloud. Developers and data analysts can use their PCs’ AI capabilities to quickly identify trends in their data, all while having total confidence in their security as the data never leaves the devices.”

MSPs and IT consultants

Dr. Justin St-Maurice, principal research director at Info-Tech Research Group, earlier this month outlined emerging trends in 2024 for managed services providers (MSPs) and IT consultants.

Generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) is not going to go away, he said, and members of the technology services industry will have to continue find ways to incorporate it into their core operations to drive efficiency and scalability.

St-Maurice, who holds a doctorate in systems design engineering from the University of Waterloo, said there is a much bigger story for both MSPs and consultants.

“As businesses around the world rush to find ways to incorporate GenAI into their operations, many are trading expediency for policy debt. Furthermore, many companies have not done their homework over the last decade, particularly in information management, to start this race with a solid footing.

“The truth is that many don’t understand that GenAI is a completely new type of technology that drifts over time, requires constant oversight, and will continue to challenge techno-ethical concerns in society – it’s definitely a boon, but not without new types of overhead.”

Delivering tools, services, and capabilities that manage AIs, modernize information management practices, and drive an augmented workforce, he contended, “are core to transforming technical advances into economic productivity. This industry is sitting on a goldmine, and the leaders of tomorrow will start coming out of the woods in 2024.”

Something else that MSPs and IT consultants should think about, St-Maurice added, is that GenAI is poised to be a key ingredient in boosting productivity, but not without new forms of cyber liability.

“In this context, risk transfer and risk mitigation need to evolve. Cyber insurance, as we know, is a dated model, and with the average global breach costing nearly US$4.5 million, it is unsustainable. Recognizing this, some players are already challenging the status quo by offering service warranties, with notable examples including Crowdstrike’s Falcon Complete warranty (US$1 million), Sophos’s MDR Complete Warranty (US$1 million for response expenses), and Veeam’s Ransomware Recovery Warranty (US$5 million for data loss).

“Furthermore, in October, Veeam and Sophos announced a strategic partnership to integrate their offerings.”

St-Maurice contended that, while some have “characterized the activity as a marketing gimmick, this may be part of a larger coup; is this the first sign that technology service providers are attempting to take a bite out of cyber insurance’s US$22 billion market? Or are we witnessing a more subtle evolution where cyber insurance begins to look more like reinsurance as these industries form partnerships? In 2024, expect to see more action in cyber assurance as it competes with, or complements, cyber insurance as we know it.”

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Paul Barker
Paul Barker
Paul Barker is the founder of PBC Communications, an independent writing firm that specializes in freelance journalism. He has extensive experience as a reporter, feature writer and editor and has been covering technology-related issues for more than 30 years.

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