2022 in Review: October – December
Top Article: KFC’s “finger lickin’ good” data warehouse strategy
India saw the launch of its first 5G mobile networks. The live switch-on of 5G was announced collectively by India’s telecoms sector alongside the Indian government as part of the India Mobile Congress event held in New Delhi.
India’s two largest telecoms operators, Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel, said services had gone live in select cities.
Airtel confirmed it had rolled out 5G services in eight Indian cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Varanasi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Nagpur and Siliguri – at the start of October. The firm said it plans to have all of “urban India” covered by its 5G services by the end of 2023.
“Bharti Airtel will today start 5G services in eight cities of India. The telecom operator will cover the entire country by 2024,” said Bharti Airtel’s chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal in a PTI report.
Demand for workers with AI skills has more than tripled in the UK over the last decade, a study found.
According to a report by market analytics Lightcast, the growth is measured by the number of job listings that require AI skillsets, which has increased from approximately 0.3% in 2012 to around 1% of all UK job adverts in 2021 – and the report shows that demand continued to grow in the first quarter of this year too.
“We’re seeing a rapid growth rate for AI skills in the UK labour market,” said Andy Durman, Lightcast’s executive vice president of global business.
Former Uber CSO Joseph Sullivan was found guilty of failing to report a 2016 cyber security incident to the relevant authorities.
A jury in San Francisco found Sulliba – Uber’s former chief security officer – guilty on two counts, obstruction of justice and deliberate concealment of a felony, in failing to report the 2016 cyber security breach, a spokesperson from the Department of Justice has confirmed.
“Sullivan affirmatively worked to hide the data breach from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and took steps to prevent the hackers from being caught,” said Stephanie Hinds, US Attorney for the Northern District of California.
The case is in relation to a breach of Uber’s systems that involved the data of 57 million passengers and drivers. Uber did not disclose the incident for a year.
Elon Musk finally sealed his $46 billion takeover of Twitter and immediately set about an overhaul of the social media giant’s management and code.
The Tesla boss completed the deal by memorably walking into Twitter HQ carrying a kitchen sink, saying “let that sink in”, and switching his own Twitter profile bio to “Chief Tweep”.
Completion of the deal came after months of back and forth, including a potential legal case, and Musk immediately set about upending Twitter’s practices, including firing the majority of the company’s senior staff, and asking others to produce code so that it could be analysed by his own workers.
Musk had long been a critic of Twitter, claiming the platform had been too heavy handed with blocks, bans and the removal of content. A self-proclaimed free speech absolutist, Musk said he would allow Twitter to function more openly.
Editor’s Pick: How robots are set to move into every facet of our working lives
Whenever I would think of “the future” as a kid, I’d imagine two technological innovations that seemed completely out there, but also encapsulated the opportunities on offer: Space travel, and robots.
While Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have begun taking passengers within touching distance of space, real voyages to seek out new life and new civilisations a la Star Trek are still lightyears away. But robots are already making a splash in many industries.
But instead of near-perfect automotons from iRobot or the life-life androids of WestWorld, the modern-day robot is designed to work alongside, move amongst, and be worn by human workers.
As part of our Robotics Themed Week, we looked at how robots are set to transform our working lives.
Top Article: NatWest’s Arun Mehta: How to make your data superb
Embattled gigafactory startup Britishvolt — which is building what is set to be the UK’s largest battery manufacturing facility — faced fresh woes after the UK government withdrew funding, leading the company to seek out funding opportunities.
After the UK government withdrew, the firm’s only secured creditor has appointed receivers over part of its assets, the company confirmed to Sifted. It’s a sign that the creditor, investment group Katch Fund Solutions, is looking to secure its position should Britishvolt fail to raise enough funding to avoid administration.
Katch Fund Solutions appointed receivers — brought in to protect a creditors’ position — to the assets of Power by Britishvolt Properties, a subsidiary of Britishvolt, on November 3. Katch has a minority debt interest in the gigafactory site owned by Britishvolt.
Facebook-parent Meta announced plans to let go of 13% of its staff – a decision which chief executive Mark Zuckerberg blamed on online growth during the pandemic and its subsequent decline.
The boom in e-commerce during Covid, which led to Meta “significantly increase its investments” has not played out the way Zuckerberg had hoped, he said in a statement to staff, posted on Meta’s site. “I got this wrong, and I take responsibility for that,” he said.
The Facebook founder added that the macroeconomic downturn and increased competition [from newer social media players such as TikTok which have emerged to capture a younger audience] were other factors that have contributed to his decision to lay off 11,000 employees.
The statement added that resources would now be focussed on a smaller number of “high priority growth areas” including the firm’s AI discovery engine that’s powering Instagram’s Reels, other recommendation experiences, its ads and its business messaging platforms.
It was part of a wider job cuts trend across the tech industry.
With the festive season nearing, a report claimed three quarters of consumers said they prefer a hybrid shopping experience that marries in-store visits with the ability to buy online.
The survey from Sinch comprised of nearly 3,00 customers, also noted the importance of an additional level of automation with 92% of shoppers suggesting they would message a chatbot to see if a product is in-stock before visiting the store.
Jonathan Bean, chief marketing officer at Sinch, said that adding “rich messaging, chatbots or other conversational technologies” into the mix will allow retailers to support shoppers in how and where they want to engage.
Yet when it comes to messaging retailers for product returns, exchanges and refunds, over half of customers (53%) said they feel frustrated.
Google agreed to pay a $391.5 million settlement following accusations that the search engine giant illegally tracked users’ locations in 40 US states, the Michigan attorney general’s office said on Monday.
The settlement also requires Google to be more transparent with consumers about when it’s using location tracking, and provide users with detailed information about location-tracking data on a special web page, the Iowa attorney general’s office said.
“When consumers make the decision to not share location data on their devices, they should be able to trust that a company will no longer track their every move,” Tom Miller, an Iowa Attorney General, said in a statement.
“This settlement makes it clear that companies must be transparent in how they track customers and abide by state and federal privacy laws.”
Editor’s Pick: Vegas bets big on smart city future
As local governments try to tackle rising populations, increasing energy and connectivity needs, and climate change commitments, making cities smarter seems to be a key solution.
For Las Vegas, that means the deployment of a large private 5G network which will help boost connectivity for residents, businesses and tourists, operating alongside a new transportation system backed by Elon Musk.
Sin City’s mayor Carolyn Goodman outlined plans to turn Vegas into a model smart city by deploying thousands of sensors, supported by AI and machine learning, that will “improve the quality of the lives of our residents, our visitors and even those beyond our borders” she told the MWC Americas conference.
Working with NTT to launch a city-wide 5G network to underpin this is seen as a vital cog in the development of the “new” Vegas, the city’s CIO Michael Sherwood told TI.
“Connectivity is the foundation for a lot of things in government and technology business that are required,” he explains. “We always talk about fibre infrastructure, talking about the hard assets. But that last mile, that wireless capability, where we’re able to help students connect to their school, we’re able to secure and work with safety.”
Seeing a famous tourist hub like Vegas gamble on a smart city future really excites me, after spending the last few years writing about the future of IoT.
Top Article: How Telehouse Europe is keeping its cool
French telecoms firm Orange has unveiled plans to help mitigate the energy crisis by reducing its energy consumption across Europe over the coming months.
The telco giant revealed three key areas of focus for its latest green plans: energy efficiency in networks, sourcing green energy, and reducing the impact of offices and retail.
Orange said it is already working to optimise energy consumption in some of its European markets, such as Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Spain.
In Belgium, Poland and Spain, for example, the launch of mobile network sharing agreements are bringing energy savings to all partners by avoiding duplication and reducing maintenance costs.
Swedish fintech company Klarna partnered with tech start-up Vaayu to produce a carbon emissions tracker that allows customers to track a fashion product’s CO2 emissions along different stages of its lifecycle.
Not only will shoppers have more accurate insights on the environmental impact of purchasing a product, they will also make more sensitive shopping decisions, the partners claimed.
Klarna’s CO2e tracker has the ability to automatically calculate emissions for fashion purchases on a product-level in real-time. Its “cradle-to-grave” life cycle assessment (LCA) covers stages from raw material extraction and processing to product assembly and delivery to the end-user.
The Co-op joined forces with robotic start-up Starship Technologies and Leeds City Council to provide an autonomous delivery service to the streets of Leeds.
The fleet is powered by renewable electricity, with the average delivery for a robot consuming as little energy as boiling a kettle to make one cup of tea.
According to Co-op, customers can select groceries through the Starship food delivery app, schedule their delivery, and drop a pin to where they want their items to be sent.
Shoppers will be able to keep an eye on the bots journey in real-time via an interactive map and receive an alert on arrival which will signal them to meet and unlock the bot through the app.
EV fleets in companies are still a long way from replacing the company car or van and will require a mindset change according to an expert panel at London’s EV Show last month.
At a consumer level electric vehicles offer a tax efficient way of getting around, acknowledged Wex VP of international technology, Alexandre Page-Relo, but from an enterprise perspective take-up may take a little longer.
Fellow panel member John Lowes, a senior technical advisor at High Voltage Systems and Services, predicted that a complete shift to electric fleets in industry would take “around eight-ish years”.
According to Coleen Highfield, senior director for HR at Wex – a financial technology service provider which is investing in EV charging points – there’s an entire change management system that needs to take place, particularly in upskilling the workforce.
Drivers need to learn how to charge their vehicles not only from their homes but also at their work place and other destinations – something the senior director (also the new owner of an electric Mini) has had to grapple with herself.
Most US public firms plan to invest in ESG reporting tools. That’s according to a new survey from Deloitte that found that 99% of large US based public firms expect to invest in ESG reporting tools in the next 12 months.
Deloitte’s 2022 Sustainability Action Report interviewed 300 senior finance, accounting, sustainability and legal executives working at publicly owned companies with revenues greater than $500 million.
Sectors represented include consumer products, financial services, life sciences and health care, oil and gas and technology, media and telecommunications.
The survey also found that well over half (57%) of companies have already implemented a cross-functional working group tasked with driving strategic attention to ESG, with nearly all others (42%) planning to follow suit, compared to the earlier survey findings with only 21% having implemented such a working group.
Editor’s Pick: UN interview – Sustainable thinking
Climate change has been high up the news agenda in recent years, and at TechInformed, we have aimed to make it a central part of our reporting. Throughout 2022 we’ve looked at how businesses across the globe have launched new, greener policies or plans, all part of the global aim to hit net zero.
That’s why we finished the year with our final Themed Week focussing in on GreenTech for enterprises. We had loads of fantastic case studies as well as deeper dives into some of the issues enterprises are facing as the overhaul legacy systems with more sustainable alternatives.
But the standout for me was an interview we carried out with the United Nations’ Environmental Programme digital co-lead Shivam Kishore, who caught up with the TI team at Web Summit in Lisbon.
According to Kishore, countries and corporations both need to discover first what carbon emissions they are emitting before jumping towards ways to become net zero.
Then, “we need to start thinking about how to deploy the right kinds of technologies to mitigate the problems that we have”, he explained.
It was a fascinating chance to see what the world’s largest inter-governmental body was doing to help enterprises take on the challenge of global climate change.
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