Displaying items by tag: Big Data

Intel launched its new Intel Xeon Scalable processors on July 26. The product provides businesses with “breakthrough performance” to handle tasks such as real-time analytics, virtualized infrastructure and high-performance computing. Half a million of the processors have already been sold to AT&T and others.

The processors will drive “megatrends” such as cloud, analytics and 5G, said Firas Alfanney, Intel’s Data Center Group Sales Director for ME, Turkey, Africa and Russia, at a press conference in Dubai. “All of these trends are driven by data,” he said. “Today, smartphones are generating 30 megabytes per day, and a PC generates about 90 megabytes. When connected cars come into play, they will generate 40 terabytes per day. Data is increasing throughout all ecosystems.”

Businesses need to transform with this massive data growth, he said, in order to keep up with customer demand and provide the best services. For example, hybrid cloud is being promoted within the industry to give enterprises the flexibility to choose between private on-premise cloud and using some public cloud. This is going to be the trend in the future, Firas claims, and Intel’s new processors are the built for big data.

“At Intel we have been talking a lot about industry transformation,” Firas said, “The transformation of old industries adopting new technologies.” For example, farmers today now use drone technology, sensors and satellite imagery to assist them in meeting strong demand. Even in retail, sensors are used to help monitor stock. Data center is the core to support these megatrends, he said.

“Data center and network infrastructure is undergoing massive transformations to support emerging use cases like precision medicine, artificial intelligence and agile network services paving the path to 5G,” said Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of the Intel Data Center Group. “Intel Xeon Scalable processors represent the biggest data center advancement in a decade,” he said.

The processors are optimized to meet the wide range of performance demands in data centers and communications networks, offering up to 28 cores and up to 6 terabytes of system memory (4-socket systems), and scale to support 2-socket through 8-socket systems and beyond, powering entry-level workloads to the most mission-critical applications.

The processors are also “scalable” and are available at different levels to match the different sizes of enterprises. It’s not “one size fits all” Firas said. The Bronze level processor is for “light tasks” which moves up to Silver for “moderate tasks” and then Gold and Platinum which are “optimized for widest range of evolving/multi workloads”. The Platinum level processors have “scalable performance, hardware enhanced security, and advanced RAS.”

The general availability announcement of the processors follows Intel’s largest data center early ship program with more than half a million Intel Xeon Scalable processors already sold to leading enterprise, high-performance computing, cloud and communication services provider customers.

AT&T, the top telco in the US, has adopted the processors mainly for its ambitions with 5G and to cope with tremendous data growth. The processors require fewer servers and connect more virtual machines, which is ideal for 5G, since 5G is “all about network function virtualization.” The processors also provide the necessary power to run 5G, offer lower energy costs and space efficiency.

The benefits of the processors, Firas said, include a dramatic performance increase of 1.65x on average over previous generation technology. With 58 world records and counting, Intel Xeon Scalable delivers “industry leading performance across the broadest range of networks.”

The processors were architected to help customers accelerate the deployment of cloud infrastructure, transform communications networks and unleash artificial intelligence, said Firas. The product is supported by 480 Intel builders who verified its performance, and received broad support from a variety of technology leaders including Huawei, Lenovo, Nokia, Samsung, ZTE, Ericsson, Microsoft and AT&T.

Published in Gadget

Crime-predicting AI: The future of law enforcement

Written on Sunday, 30 July 2017 09:46

Dubai never fails to impress with its forward-thinking approach to technological innovation. Dubai Police recently unveiled the emirate’s ambitious approach to law enforcement: a robot policeman equipped with cameras and facial recognition software. China is taking a similar approach, with companies developing artificial intelligence designed to predict crimes before they occur.

Dubai Police formally inducted a robotic policeman into the force this year. The robot, referred to by the media as ‘Robocop’, can read human faces and identify potential threats using artificial intelligence. Via the robot, citizens can report a crime, submit paperwork, or pay fines for traffic violations using a touch-screen located on an area of the robot that represents a human chest.

Dubai Police worked with Watson, IBM’s AI system, on voice command recognition. The robot was built by Barcelona-based PAL Robotics, with its mission of “Leading humanoid robotics for the real world.” The company has been developing humanoid robotic solutions since 2004. The prototype model was unveiled in 2016 at the annual Dubai-based GITEX electronics trade show. 

The robot, which will patrol busy areas of Dubai, is evidence of a government program aimed at replacing some human law enforcement officers with machines. If the ‘Robocop’ experiment is deemed successful, Dubai Police said the unarmed robots, which are dressed in the colors of Dubai Police, could make up about 25 percent of the force’s patrols by 2030. The robots could also improve services and security for Dubai Expo 2020.

Despite Hollywood movies like I, Robot depicting the potential catastrophes that could unfold if artificial intelligence plays against humanity, Dubai Police Brigadier Kahlid Nasser Al Razooqi, director general of the Smart Services Department, seems to believe the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. “These kinds of robots can work 24/7,” he told Reuters. “They won’t ask you for leave, sick leave or maternity leave. It can work around the clock.”

The real value in Dubai’s ‘Robocop’ is its ability to use artificial intelligence – a move being undertaken by other governments around the world. The robot can compare faces with a police database and flag matches to the police headquarters. The robot is also capable of scanning vehicle license plates, and its video feed can assist police looking out for risks such as unattended items in popular areas of the city.

In China, similar projects are underway to implement artificial intelligence into law enforcement. The country is well-known for its tough citizen surveillance, and is reportedly seeking to look into citizens’ futures by using technology designed to predict and prevent crimes. Police in China are working with companies to develop artificial intelligence; they say will assist them in identifying and apprehending suspects before criminal acts are committed, FT reported.

Vice-Minister of science and technology, Li Meng, explained: “If we use our smart systems and smart facilities well, we can know beforehand who might be a terrorist, who might do something bad.”

Guangzhou-based Cloud Walk has been trialing facial recognition technology that can track a person’s movements, such as visits to shops where weapons are sold. This tracking ability could help authorities assess an individual’s chances of committing a crime. Cloud Walk’s software can warn police when a citizen’s crime risk becomes dangerously high, which would then allow authorities to take action.

A spokesperson from the company told FT, “The police are using a big data rating system to rate highly suspicious groups of people based on where they go and what they do.” An individual will be flagged by the technology if he/she “frequently visits transport hubs and goes to suspicious places like a knife store,” the spokesperson added.

China is famous for its distrust of outsourced influence and internal uprising. Its citizens are no strangers to being evaluated by the government; a mammoth task monitoring 1.4 billion people. The government has even developed ‘China’s Social Credit System’ (SCS) to become mandatory in 2020, which will take in all of the big data tools of the information age, including electronic purchasing data, social networks and algorithmic sorting, to be used as an overall credit score for citizens.

New and effective technology such as smartphones and fast-developing AI software is amplifying the nation’s surveillance capabilities, often taking it too far, some claim. Chinese state media have reported instances of facial recognition software being used to infringe minor offences, such as identifying and shaming jaywalkers.

Cloud Walk’s artificial intelligence technology will also be used to track people with a criminal record, according to FT, and monitor those who enter “high risk” places such as hardware stores where potential weapons can be purchased. The Cloud Walk spokesperson said, “Of course, if someone buys a kitchen knife that’s OK, but if the person also buys a sack and a hammer later, that person is becoming suspicious.”

Some cities caught on to the crime prediction trend years ago. Milan has been using a system called KeyCrime for over a decade now, which is able to predict where robberies might happen based on past data.

When KeyCrime was first introduced in Milan in 2007, about 27 percent of robberies were being solved. The following year, after the software had been introduced, successes went up to 45 percent. Similar technology called PredPol, used in the US by more than 20 to 50 of the largest police departments, uses data to forecast when and where a crime is likely to happen.

The difference between China’s predictive technology method and Milan’s, is that China is using its extensive archive of citizen data to predict who is more likely to commit a crime, as opposed to where a crime is likely to occur. According to HIS Markit research, China has over 176 million surveillance cameras active, and the number is growing.

China is also using AI in crime prediction to match an individual’s identity even if they are spotted in different places wearing different clothing. This method of “personal re-identification” is considered a relatively new technological achievement.

Professor Leng Biao of the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics explained, “We can use re-ID to find people who look suspicious by walking back and forth in the same area, or who are wearing masks.”

China has been criticized for not carrying out necessary checks and balances in its judicial system, and critics say citizens could find themselves at risk of being targeted by error of the nascent technology. Beijing Weiheng Law Firm partner Li Xiaolin warns, “In China, wrongful verdicts with no evidence are very hard to reverse on appeal, because of the judicial system.”

The concept is, however, undeniably forward-thinking and could lead to safer and more secure communities. The Dubai government has even bigger plans for its law enforcement, such as egg-shaped robots used in parking areas to issue warnings about traffic violations, and self-driving motorcycles could also be sent out.

There is also talk of Dubai developing the “world’s largest robot” which can run at 80kmp.The robot will stand at 3 meters tall and carry heavy equipment and be maneuvered by a police officer seated in a cabin inside.

“We are looking to make everything smart in Dubai Police,” said Brigadier Khalid Nasser Al Razouqui, the General Director of Dubai Police’s Smart Services Department. “By 2030, we will have the first smart police station which won’t require human employees.” 

Published in Featured

While 84 percent of global companies say that digital transformation is critical to their survival in the next five years, only three percent have completed company-wide transformation efforts, shows a new study from SAP. The study, supported by Oxford Economics, was released at SAP Leonardo Live, held July 11–12 in Frankfurt, Germany.

Significantly, the results could spell possible peril for companies lagging in digital transformation: those that have embraced mass digital changes reported significantly higher levels of market share (85 percent vs. 41 percent) and profitability (80 percent vs. 53 percent).

Companies named as the leaders in the survey expect to see roughly 23 percent more revenue growth over the next two years than the rest of the organizations surveyed. The study also found that digital transformation was cited as a top-three driver of future revenue, across all industries and among companies of all sizes.

“SAP Digital Transformation Executive Study: 4 Ways Leaders Set Themselves Apart” is the most comprehensive of its kind. Based on survey results from more than 3,000 senior executives across 17 countries and regions, it identifies the challenges, opportunities, value and key technologies driving digital transformation. The results also identify the Top 100 companies — called Digital Leaders — who are best at connecting people, things and businesses.

Digital Leaders hold four key traits, according to the study. They see digital transformation as truly transformational: 96 percent of Leaders say digital transformation is a core business goal, compared to 61 percent of all othersThe transformation extends through their company, to how they interact with customers, suppliers and partners.

Digital Leaders also focus on customer-facing functions first: 70 percent of Leaders say digital transformation is already delivering increased customer satisfaction vs. 22 percent of all others. The customer experience is the gateway to a successful digital transformation. They also prioritize talent: 71 percent of Leaders say that digital transformation efforts make it easier to attract and retain talent vs. 54 percent of all others. They also spend more on retraining the existing workforce than their peers.

Finally, Digital Leaders invest in next-generation technologies: 50 percent of Leaders are already working with artificial intelligence and machine learning, compared to 7 percent of all others. They are also investing more heavily in Big Data and analytics (94 percent vs. 60 percent) and the Internet of Things (76 percent vs. 52 percent). Using a bimodal IT architecture lets them run legacy systems efficiently while rapidly integrating new technologies.

“Digital transformation is no longer a choice, it’s an essential driver of revenue, profit and growth,” said Vivek Bapat, senior vice president, global head of Marketing Strategy and Thought Leadership, SAP SE. “Executives need to move from simply understanding the high stakes to activating complete end-to-end execution across their business. This requires innovative breakthrough technologies, investing in digital skills, and retraining the existing workforce. The next two years will be a key inflection point, which will separate the digital winners from those left behind.”

The intelligence revolution is upon us, says Lenovo CEO

Written on Thursday, 22 June 2017 10:14

Today we are standing at the beginning of the Fourth ‘Intelligence’ Revolution, said Yuanqing Yang, Chairman and CEO of Lenovo at the company’s TANSFORM event held in New York on June 20. Yang said Lenovo will “redefine IT” and encouraged “intelligent transformation” driven by cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

“I can’t think of a better place to hold our TRANSFORM event than in New York – a city that has transformed from a humble trading post 40 years ago to one of the most vibrant cities in the world today,” said Yang. “It represents a perfect example of the rapid transformation of our world that has propelled us from the steam engine to the internet era in just 200 years.”

200 years ago there were only a few companies that operated on a global scale, Yang pointed out. The total value of the world’s economy was around US$180 billion which represented just $188 per person on earth. Today, there is a wealth of global companies competing to sell everything from crude oil to servers and software. These companies “drive a robust global economy worth over $705 trillion.”

What’s even more remarkable, Yang said, is that the economy has almost doubled every fifteen years since 1950. This represents significant transformation for businesses and for the world – “so much achieved in a tiny slice of time.” This transformation is the “result of the greatest advancement in technology in human history.” Not one but three industrial revolutions have occurred over the last 200 years, Yang said.

“Today we are standing at the beginning of the Fourth Revolution. This revolution will transform how we work and lead in ways that no one could have imagined in the 18th Century or even just 18 months ago. You are the people that will lead this revolution.”

IT is no longer just information technology but intelligent technology and intelligent transformation, Yang said. This transformation is driven by big data, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence. It has transitioned from PC internet to mobile internet. Today, said Yang, we are facing another big leap: from the mobile internet to the smart internet or intelligent internet.

“In this smart internet era, cloud enables devices such as PCs and smartphones, smart speakers, smart TVs, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to provide content and services. But the evolution does not stop there… almost everything around us will become smart with building, computing, storage and network capabilities. This is what we call the ‘device + cloud’ transformation,” said Yang.

Smart devices incorporated with various sensors will continuously sense our environment and send us details about our surroundings, he predicts. In order to store this ever-increasing big data, and to support the delivery of cloud content and services, data center infrastructure is also transforming to become more agile, flexible and intelligent. This is what Lenovo calls the ‘infrastructure + cloud transformation’.

Human wisdom enables artificial intelligence to learn from big data and make everything around us smarter, said Yang. With big data collected from smart devices, computing power of the new infrastructure will train artificial intelligence. We can understand the world around us more accurately and make smarter decisions. We can make lives better, work easier, and society safer and healthier.

“Think about what is already possible since we started this transformation: smart assistants can help you place orders online without voice command; driverless cars can drive on the same road as traditional cars; chat bots can help troubleshoot customer issues; and virtual doctors already diagnose basic symptoms. This list goes on and on,” said Yang.

“Like every revolution before it, with intelligent transformation, we are fundamentally changing the nature of business. Understanding and preparing for that will be the key to the growth and success of your business.”

The first thing made possible by the Industrial Revolution was maximizing production, he said. Water and steam power enabled people to go from making things by hand to making them by machine. This transformed how fast things could be manufactured and also improved the quantity of work, which led to a massive increase in traffic. With this revolution, business scale increased as the number of customers exploded.

Fifty years later, the second revolution led to modern enterprise. Electricity and telegraph communication made business “faster and more complex” challenging businesses to become more efficient and meet entirely new customer demands.

In our own lifetimes we have witnessed the third revolution which made it possible to digitize enterprise, Yang explained, highlighting how the development of computers and the internet accelerated business beyond human speed. Now, global businesses have to deal with customers at the end of a cable, not with a handshake.

“While we are still dealing with the effects of digitized business, the fourth revolution is already upon us. In just the past three years, the growth of data and advancement in artificial intelligence has been astonishing. The computing power can now process the massive amount of data about your customers, suppliers, contractors, and provide insights you simply could not imagine before,” said Yang. “Artificial intelligence can tell you what your customers want today and also tell you what they will want tomorrow.”

This transformation isn’t just about making better business decisions or creating better customer relationships, Yang explained. It’s about making the world a better place. He believes we can build a new world without disease, war and poverty with the power of big data and artificial intelligence, which will be the revolutionary technology to make that possible.

Published in Featured

200 million US citizens have had their sensitive personal data exposed accidently by a marketing firm contracted by the Republican National Committee. The data – which included 1.1 terabytes worth of information such as birth dates, home addresses, telephone numbers, and political views of about 62 percent of the entire US population – was available on a publicly accessible Amazon cloud server.

The vulnerable data, according to a BBC report, was discovered by Chris Vickery, a cyber-risk analyst with the security form UpGuard. The huge amount of data appears to have been collected from a wide range of sources, including posts on controversial banned threads on social network Reddit, to committees that raised funds for the Republican Party.

The data was stored in spreadsheets uploaded to a server owned by Deep Root Analytics, a media analytics firm. According to the BBC, it has last been updated in January when President Donald Trump was inaugurated and had been online for an undisclosed period of time.

Alex Lundry, the founder of Deep Root Analytics, told tech website Gizmodo: “We take full responsibility for this situation. Based on the information we have gathered thus far, we do not believe that our systems have been hacked.” Lundry added: “Since this event has come to our attention, we have updated the access setting and put protocols in place to prevent further access.”

The data included very personal details about US citizens such as their suspected religious background and affiliations, their ethnicity and political stances, such as where they stood on controversial issues like gun control and abortion rights. The file names and directories suggested that the data was supposed to be used by Republican political organizers to create a profile on as many voters as possible by using all available data.

A blog post by Dan O’Sullivan on UpGuard’s website reads: “That such an enormous national database could be created and hosted online, missing even the simplest of protections against the data being publicly accessible, is troubling.”

O’Sullivan added: “The ability to collect such information and store it insecurely further calls into questions the responsibilities owed by private corporations and political campaigns to those citizens targeted by increasingly high-powered data analytics operations.”

The information leak is said to be the largest in the US to date and has caused grave concern among privacy experts because of the sheer scale of the data gathered. Privacy International’s policy officer, Frederike Kaltheneur told the BBC: “This is deeply troubling. This is not just sensitive, it’s intimate information, prediction about people’s behavior, opinions and beliefs that people have never decided to disclose to anyone.”

Published in Government

At Lenovo’s TRANSFORM event held in New York on June 20, the company unveiled an end-to-end data center portfolio that enables customers to harness the power of the “intelligence revolution” and create a strong technology foundation that supports transformative capabilities such as data analytics, high-performance computing, hybrid cloud, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Lenovo introduced its largest, most comprehensive portfolio of server, storage, networking, software and data center services, as well as a new set of brands poised to take this leading position in customer satisfaction to even greater heights: ThinkSystem and ThinkAgile. The new portfolio of Lenovo solutions will be available in summer 2017.

“Today’s announcements mark a significant day in the next phase of Lenovo’s commitment to advancing the data center customer experience,” said Kirk Skaugen, President of Lenovo Data Center Group speaking at the event.

“Our leadership in x86 server customer satisfaction and x86 server reliability, along with these new ThinkSystem and ThinkAgile brands, and Lenovo’s new portfolio of data center solutions represent the most reliable, most agile, and highest performing data center solutions in the industry. We are confident we can empower our customers to solve their most challenging business problems and become digital disrupters in their own industries.”

This year, Lenovo celebrates 25 years of proven Think quality, performance and reliability, and Lenovo ThinkSystem and ThinkAgile data center solutions provide organizations with fluid resources that can adapt to the evolving needs of a business. According to a recent IDC survey of CIOs and technology leaders, 72 percent of respondents cited supporting digital transformation and business growth as the leading rationale in IT infrastructure decisions.

In the past three years, hybrid cloud significantly matured, while software defined architectures and hyperconverged infrastructure have disrupted the status quo for IT infrastructure in larger businesses, according to Lenovo. In response to these changes, customers face challenges including evolving their infrastructure strategies and considering how to best enable them now and for the future.

The new completely redesigned ThinkSystem portfolio by Lenovo, based on Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, brings the gold-standard for the industry under a single unified brand spanning servers, storage and networking systems.

ThinkAgile is a completely new software-defined solutions portfolio built on the foundation of Lenovo ThinkSystem platforms: it adapts to changing IT needs while reducing complexity and cost created by silos in traditional IT. Even better together, the ThinkSystem and ThinkAgile portfolios empower customers to create the foundation of a future-defined data center with “simplicity, agility and flexibility, and future-proofed preparation.”

Often, customers find the price for technological advancement and advanced IT capabilities are complexity and confusion, according to Lenovo. The new ThinkSystem portfolio of servers, storage and networking solutions allows customers to address these concerns by giving them the ability to streamline IT infrastructure; this leads to increased service levels of data center operations that tie directly to business growth.

The ThinkSystem portfolio is engineered to work seamlessly with an organization’s previous investments, without the need to completely re-architect the data center. In addition, with the Lenovo ThinkAgile portfolio, integrated solutions adapt to changing IT and business needs by delivering the speed, simplified management and agility of cloud services while retaining the much-valued control and governance of on-premises IT.

Its pre-integrated, pre-built and pre-tested offerings deliver “robust new capabilities” to customers’ data centers, including automated lifecycle management, decreased TCO and reduced need for IT resources to maintain the platform. These solutions include the ThinkAgile SX series for Microsoft Azure Stack, as well as the ThinkAgile SX rack level solutions that integrate networking with hyperconverged offerings for a seamless customer experience.

Also, with the pace of technology innovation continuing to accelerate, customers will increasingly require the flexibility to adjust to changes and ensure the infrastructure they implement today stays relevant for their future needs. Lenovo designed the ThinkSystem and ThinkAgile solutions, such as the ThinkSystem SD530 high-performance computing offering, to support workloads spanning large data analytics applications to high performance computing, artificial intelligence and the largest hyperscale environments.

Lenovo is “committed to delivering transformational experiences for both its customers and the industry” and also announced the delivery of one of the most powerful systems – among the first in the world based on Intel Xeon Platinum processor family – to Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC).

The BSC MareNostrum 4 supercomputer, tasked with jobs in science and engineering research, incorporates 48 racks with more than 3,400 nodes with next generation Intel Xeon processors and a central memory of 390 Terabytes. Its peak power will be over 11 Petaflop/s, allowing the center to test and analyze the performance of the most recent developments in the field of supercomputing.

The newly launched x86 ThinkSystem platform provides us with ten times more processing power than the previous MareNostrum supercomputer, allowing BSC to continue the type of scientific research that enhances humanity's efforts to seek new knowledge and drive progress. Our experience with Lenovo has been easy and tightly integrated to overcome our challenges and achieve success, and we look forward to future collaboration," said Sergi Girona, Operations Director, BSC.

CommScope forms multi-tenant data center alliance

Written on Sunday, 18 June 2017 09:22

The world’s increasing consumption of data, combined with the trend of businesses and service providers outsourcing their data center facilities rather than owning and managing them, has resulted in significant growth in multi-tenant data centers (MTDCs). In fact, one analyst firm has predicted that total operational square footage of global MTDCs can reach approximately 177 million by the end of 2018.

To address this shift in the data center market, CommScope has formed the Multi-Tenant Data Center (MTDC) Alliance as part of the PartnerPRO™ Network. MTDC Alliance members will be able to offer optimal network infrastructure solutions for customers who need to deploy this technology in multi-tenant environments.

“Over the years, a shift has taken place in which companies increasingly outsource IT needs to shared environments in which data centers are viewed as an operating expense,” said Stephen Kowal, senior vice president, Global Partners, CommScope. “By leasing third-party data center white space, enterprises can remain focused on their core businesses while enjoying optimal data center availability, reliability and cost control.”

Demand will continue for MTDCs from hyperscale data center operators, service providers, cloud providers and enterprises; however, with the increased competition, it is becoming harder to differentiate on build quality alone.

That is why CommScope, a leader in communications network infrastructure solutions, formed the MTDC Alliance, assuring customers who work with our certified partners in the PartnerPRO Network that quality enterprise solutions, like our industry leading SYSTIMAX®, NETCONNECT®, and Uniprise® solutions, are being deployed in MTDCs.

“With our global network of 179 data centers across 44 markets, Equinix is thrilled to be part of the CommScope MTDC Alliance to offer enterprise customers the optimal data center deployments that best fits their needs,” said Greg Adgate, vice president of global technology partners and alliances at Equinix.

“Our facilities offer the broadest geographic reach, the largest choice in cloud and network providers, and the most efficient interconnection options for companies looking to lease data center space. We look forward to working with CommScope and their customers as part of this initiative,” Greg added.

MTDC infrastructure makes advanced technologies such as cloud computing and virtualized data centers available to companies of all shapes and sizes; from small- and mid-sized business to large enterprises, while also allowing flexible and easy expandability as the business grows. By outsourcing data center services instead of building, hosting, maintaining and upgrading them, MTDC tenants can realize significant operating and capital expenditures saving.

Today, the PartnerPRO Network has active partners in 88 countries and serves as a resource with thousands of distributors, installers, integrators and consultants worldwide.

Corporate data is becoming what oil is to Saudi Arabia, says Clear Peak analyst Brad Cowdrey – outrageously profitable. There is so much valuable data available to corporations today, he says, and its potential uses are “proliferating so rapidly” that not using it would be “negligent”. But the dominance of tech giants that rule the data world has prompted calls for them to be broken up, the same way Standard Oil was in the early 20th century, over antitrust concerns.

Data in the digital era has spawned the dominance of renowned technology giants. Today, the world’s most valuable listed firms all deal in big data: Alphabet (parent company of Google), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. These tech titans have seen their profits surge in recent years, collectively racking up over $25 billion in net profit in the first quarter of 2017. Alphabet is estimated to be worth a staggering US$498 billion compared to Apple's market cap of around US$495 billion.

Google’s 21st century data-driven mindset treats information “as a principal asset – like oil – that must be actively managed and leveraged,” says Cowdrey. But the value of firms like Google that profit from handling the data of billions of people has prompted calls for antitrust regulators to restrain those who control its flow – but some reports suggest that traditional watchdog methods are outdated.

The success of the dominant tech giants has undoubtedly benefited customers worldwide. For instance, Google’s search engine and Google Maps app has fundamentally simplified the lives of people around the world, the same way Amazon’s one-day delivery services have, and also Facebook’s revolutionary social media platform. Many of the services provided by these tech giants are free-of-charge, but customers end up paying in a less traditional way: handing over valuable data.

The cause for concern, a report by The Economist suggests, is that having so much knowledge about consumers gives internet giants “enormous power”. As of the first quarter of 2017, Facebook had 1.94 billion monthly active users feeding valuable information into the platform for the company to monetize into advertizing ventures. In the third quarter of 2012, the number of active Facebook users had surpassed 1 billion, making it the first social network ever to do so.

Regulators are entrusted to make sure that huge companies, like Facebook, don’t obtain too much power. But it has been suggested that the old way of approaching anti-competition concerns, such as in the era of oil dominance, is now “outdated”. New approaches are needed to tackle anti-competition in the modern tech industry.

Antitrust regulators came down hard on the oil industry in May 1911, when the US Supreme Court called for the dissolution of the Standard Oil Company, ruling it was in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The court’s decision forced Standard to break into 34 independent firms spread across the US. Many of these companies have since split, folded or merged; today, the primary descendents of Standard include ExxonMobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips.

Antitrust concerns soon affected the tech industry as the influence of American tech giants burgeoned. In April 2012, the US Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and a group of book publishers alleging they colluded to fix e-book prices. The plan was put in place by Apple and the publishers because the companies feared Amazon, which was selling e-books below cost and was monopolizing the market.

Apple also faced a lawsuit filed in 2011 seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for monopoly abuse regarding its App Store. Apple was accused of creating a monopoly by making its App Store the only place to purchase iPhone applications. Lack of competition thus pushed App Store prices higher.

Meanwhile, Google has been fighting multiple claims by the European Commission which has accused the company of blocking rivals in the lucrative online search advertising market. Google also rejected allegations that it abused the market dominance of its Android mobile phone operating system.

“Google has come up with many innovative products that have made a difference to our lives. But that doesn’t give Google the right to deny other companies the chance to compete and innovate,” said Margrethe Vestager, European Competition Commissioner, at a news conference in Brussels, Belgium, in July 2016.

The Economist report claims the traditional antitrust methods of the past are no long useful and need to adapt to the 21st century. For example, antitrust regulators watch out for how large companies have grown to determine when they should intervene. But in today’s digital era, antitrust regulators need to take into account the extent of firms’ data assets when assessing the impact of major deals, rather than the size of the company itself.

Another key trigger for regulators to monitor today is the amount of money which firms are willing to fork out to acquire another company. If the amount is unusually high, it could indicate that the company is attempting to eliminate a “nascent threat”.

For instance, Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp, which had no revenue to speak of before it was acquired, should have raised flags when the instant messaging app was purchased for $19 billion. Facebook even attempted to acquire another rival, Snapchat, which rejected the offer.

Antitrust regulators need to become more “data-savvy” when analyzing the market today, the report says, such as using simulations to “hunt algorithms colluding over prices” or finding ways to boost promotion of competition.

Another solution could be to force online services to hand over data and give more control to those who supply it. In that respect, consumers would have more knowledge about exactly what information companies have about them and companies could be forced to reveal how much money they make from consumer data.

Governments could play a role by encouraging the emergence of new services in the industry by opening up more of their own data, the report suggests, or “managing crucial parts of the economy as public infrastructure” similar to India’s digital identity system, Aadhaar.

A further suggestion is for governments to “mandate the sharing of certain kinds of data” with the consent of users. This approach has been picked up in Europe by financial services requiring banks to make customers’ data accessible to third parties.

However, not all data is intended to be made public, and therein lies the problem with the information sharing era. Governments face a difficult time ahead, attempting to regulate the data economy which, for now, is dominated by a few giants – similar to the oil industry in its infancy.

The Economist report suggests that governments should share more data to equal out the competition and allow more businesses to thrive in the area of data and technology, but too much data sharing could threaten the privacy citizens and national security. While there is no simple solution, the need for effective regulation of the data economy is dire.

Published in Featured

Huawei to host Global Safe City Summit in Dubai

Written on Tuesday, 18 April 2017 12:31

Under the theme "Leading New ICT, The Road to Collaborative Public Safety", Huawei Global Safe City Summit 2017 will be held in Dubai, UAE from April 26-27. The event will bring together leading enterprises, industry experts, and partners from across the world to explore the trends and challenges of digital transformation within the public safety industry, as well as share innovative technology application practices.

At the summit, Huawei will also launch the world’s first collaborative public safety solution. By leveraging new ICT technologies, such as cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, mobile broadband, and Software-Defined Networking (SDN), the new solution will enable efficient collaboration between government agencies and between the police and the public to transform public safety and strengthen communities.

In the digital era, new security threats are emerging that affect the public safety industry. To address these new threats Huawei believes the industry needs to shift from constructing traditional public safety models to building collaborative public safety models. These models are designed to keep pace with social and technological developments and establish a collaborative public safety system that protects the public through seamless interaction between authorities and citizens.

In addition, Huawei will release the first video cloud solution featuring an all-cloud architecture and matrix intelligence, as well as a crisis and disaster management solution.

During the summit Huawei, together with partners, will demonstrate its latest Safe City solutions and practices, such as video cloud, convergent eLTE broadband trunking, deep-learning smart video analysis, law enforcement Big Data, and next-generation converged command system.

Huawei Safe City solutions adhere to the principles of openness, collaboration, and mutual benefit. Huawei is committed to working closely with global leading partners in consulting and planning, system integration, and software application to build a mature Safe City ecosystem and provide one-stop Safe City solutions for customers. Currently, Huawei Safe City solutions are serving around 800 million people in more than 200 cities in over 80 countries such as Kenya, Indonesia, and China.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Telecommunication organizations in Latin America are devising strategies aimed at implementing structures which can enable them to monetize ‘Big Data’. Many are currently involved in developing and deploying ‘Big Data’ solutions. However - monetizing these efforts remain a challenge for telco’s in South America.

The growth of direct and indirect competition in the telecommunications sector has rather inevitably impacted revenue growth rates and the profitability margin of traditional operators worldwide. Universally telecommunication entities have found it difficult to monetize over-the-top services, value-added services and cloud as they try to move away from the traditional connectivity and capacity business. In relation to South America, the potential to monetize ‘Big Data’ has got Telco’s in the continent enthusiastic about the topic – and what ‘Big Data’ technology can bring to business.

Telco’s in Latin America are currently embarking on the initial phase of the project in relation to ‘Big Data’ – focusing their attention firstly on optimizing infrastructure – then they intent to transform their business with predictive analytics, next-generation applications and advanced use cases. In addition to this, companies are also rethinking and re-evaluating their organizational structure and the portfolio it offers clients. Some have developed special units to specifically define roadmaps focused on their digital and innovation strategies in an attempt to re-invent business operations and ultimately to lead them to be in a position to enable new services.

Research has found that capital expenditure or ‘Big Data’ telecommunications services in Latin America market reached $633.3 million in 2016. The investment is projected to reach $1.779 billion in 2022, led by countries such as Brazil and Mexico.

Some of the main priorities for the telco’s will undoubtedly be on improving customer experience satisfaction based on deeper customer understanding, prediction of issues based on extensive and more accurate network analysis, and revenue creation based on identified sales opportunities in the sector. Whether or not the companies can achieve these targets is yet to be seen.

However, it’s clear that as the digital transformation continues to evolve – ‘Big Data’ will become a new revenue source for Telco’s who are preparing to take advantage of new business opportunities. Data from users, services, networks, locations and management sources could be monetized through product promotion, targeted advertisement- new sales opportunities - quality of experience and network optimization. The question for telco’s is not only how to implement the technology, but how to effectively set the value it will extract.

Published in Telecom Operators
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