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A brief history of digitalization

Mounir Jamil

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digitalization

The world we live in today is shaped by key events, discoveries, and technologies that have led us to a pivotal point in history. We are undergoing the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), dubbed Industry 4.0 which will symbolize our first step into the next generation.

Before the 4IR can happen, several prerequistes need to be met. Such as having the right infrastructure and ecosystem, be it digital or physical. When it comes to the digital ecosystem, growth is not possible without digitalization.

The history of digitalization is interesting to say the least, tracing back to the first instance that sparked it all – the introduction of digital accounts in the banking system.

Bank accounts paved the way for the creation of digital bank accounts whereby users’ information would be safely stored and secured, eliminating the hassle of tangible paper.

Following the introduction of digital accounts, the next phase in history is the creation of ATMs – automatic transaction machines.

These machines proved to be revolutionary in the banking sector; offering a range of basic banking transactions that could be done without a teller or branch representative.

The first ATM in history was set up by Barclays in 1967; its introduction led to the propagation and fast adoption of digitalization. We can see this effect around us as ATMs are constantly springing up.

Following ATMs, the world witnessed the introduction of electronic trading most prominently via stock exchanges such as NYSE, and NASDQ that depended heavily on internet infrastructure, and ones and zeros as their backbone to enable payments and transfers.

Following up on the history, the later 3 technologies that are transforming the financial industry are all mainly related to advancements in tech, communication, networking, and security.

These technologies are global payment networks, internet banking, and mobile banking. As the world becomes more and more connected, we see the astounding digital effects unfold in front of us.

It is a technology that simplifies and streamlines our data making it easily accessible to us and others when needed.

With everything going on around us, we stop to examine the main insights pertaining the current endemic and digitalization.

1- Accelerating the path towards a digital economy

The pandemic has really pulled us closer to the digital world. A recent analysis from UNCTAD following the last global calamity (2008/09 financial crisis) indicates that on a global level, our uptake for digital solutions, tools, and services has greatly increased – translating directly into a transition towards a digital economy.

2- Leap into a digitally inclusive world

Digital technology governs several critical aspects of our life, ranging from education, work, medicine, and even governance. Pandemic conditions shifted our lives online, opening the floodgates for digitalization.

3- The darker side known as the digital divide

As efforts to step up connectivity intensify, a significant portion of the world remains unserved – namely those in third world or developing countries with minimal or no internet access.

The pandemic has shed light on the importance of connectivity, and the unconnected.  With significant efforts being made to bridge the digital divide, the current pandemic should be looked at as an opportunity to build a more connected future.

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Junior social media strategist with a degree in business. Passionate about technology, film, music and video games.

MedTech

The 5 most purchased Covid-19 vaccine candidates globally

Adnan Kayyali

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most purchased Covid-19 vaccine

Never in history has the world seen such a collective push towards a single goal. Vaccination and immunization of the world’s populations has been every government’s top priority for the past year. Thus, a colossal amount of time, expertise and funding took vaccine research and development into hyperdrive.

With currently 77 vaccines in phase three trials, here are five of the most purchased Covid-19 vaccines that have already been signed up:

Pfizer

Perhaps the most referenced vaccine candidate in the world, Pfizer is the 4th most purchased Covid-19 vaccine out there, with just over 700 million to the EU, US, and UK, and more than 10 other countries globally including South Korea, and Switzerland and New Zealand, Lebanon and Kuwait.

After concluding their third phase of trials, the candidate was found to be 95% effective after the first dose and is considered one of the most trustworthy vaccines on the market despite some media hysteria naturally surrounding it.

Moderna

The smallest of the top 5 giants but by no means the least effective with only just over 400 million doses sold in seven countries and the EU. The Moderna vaccine’s effectiveness sits broadly between 50 percent to 94 percent upon administering the second dose. This is the second highest rate of effectiveness on the market so far. Moderna has an edge over the other vaccines in that it does not need to be kept at extra cold temperatures to be stored, making it much easier to distribute, store, and rollout.

Recent allergic reactions to one batch of vaccines has led to a halt of operation in California until health authorities can figure out what is going on, but this is likely an anomaly.

Oxford vaccine

The Oxford vaccine is currently the number one most purchased Covid-19 vaccine out there, distributing over 2.6 billion doses across the world, mainly in the EU, the U.S, and the COVAX alliance.

Made by the university of Oxford in partnership with AstraZeneca, the vaccine has a 70 percent effectiveness against the virus, but can go up to 90% if administered in the proper dosage, with two doses given 28 days apart.

Sanofi GSK

Despite an initial delay due to an inefficient immune response in older adults, over 530 million doses of the Sanofi GSK vaccine have already been pre-purchased by the EU, UK, US, Canada, and another 200 million doses by the COVAX alliance.

The second phase of trials have been delayed until February, but the company is adamant to do its part in mass vaccination process as “No single pharma company can make it alone; the world needs more than one vaccine to fight the pandemic.” said Thomas Triomphe, EVP and Head of Sanofi Pasteur on the company website.

Novavax

With the second most purchased Covid-19 vaccine worldwide, Novavax, or Novavax NVX-CoV2373 vaccine to be precise, is the dominant vaccine found in India with over 1 billion doses sold to the country alone, and another 300 million sold to Australia, Indonesia, and of course, the US, Canada, and UK.

Most of these vaccines have currently been sold in credit form, meaning the doses are promised to the buyers beforehand. A great logistical and manufacturing effort is being made to make these deliveries happen, and despite missteps and some delays, the mass immunization process continues worldwide.

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MedTech

Game tech company Razor announces cyber-looking smart mask

Adnan Kayyali

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smart mask

Having spent an entire year living with the pandemic and grown accustomed to the safety precautions and routine, people want more than to just wear a mask for safety. Fashion designers and artists have been customizing masks for some time now, catering to those who wish to incorporate safety into their style, but not all of them meet the required safety standards.

Razor has come forth with its own conceptual model of what “the world’s smartest mask” would look and act like but with their own techy twist, in addition to adhering to safety regulations that allow the mask to do its job. Their attempt at a smart mask culminated in one of the most cyber-punk-looking face masks ever to hit the shelves.

The team at Inside Telecom has not tested these masks, as they are still in the creative concept stages, and not an actual product to be tested, and so this information comes straight from Razor.

What’s so smart about it?

Classified as an N95, the mask is fitted with, protects against the tiny droplets that carry the covid-19 water droplets through the air, and also prevents ones breath from escaping as it is equipped with two filters on either side, but that’s just the standard.

No more funny faces under the mask, as the mask has a transparent front that allows for lip reading and facial expression, two important aspects of effective communication between people. It is also equipped with small LED lights within the mask and around the mouth.

As far as communication, the smart mask also comes with a voice amplifier that helps get around the muffling effects, another annoying thing about regular masks.

Does this mean that something has to power it?  Well, this obviously reusable mask comes with a sleek looking box container lined with disinfecting UV lights.

In simple words, the mask can be recharged and used for 24 hours nonstop and can also be disinfected at the same time.

Perhaps we will see more mask concepts emerge as the pandemic goes into the second year, or perhaps customized and fashionable face masks become the newest thing elder parents don’t understand about their children.

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MedTech

How the pandemic changed the Startup playing field

Mounir Jamil

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The pandemic has left its mark on businesses far and wide, however when it comes to the startup industry – things do not go as expected.

With COVID-19 bringing with it several structural transformations that lie ahead for businesses, certain trends become more evident and examinable.

We can see a filtration effect taking place in the startup industry as companies are separated into a category of businesses that have enjoyed expansion and growth during the pandemic.

And another category of companies that are the disrupted and potentially derailed businesses.

Overall, we witnessed the pandemic effect whereby it catalyzes and accelerates the disruptive role of technology across several industries. As this was noted by how fast we saw new ideas come to life.

The following table better illustrates the industries that managed to do well during the pandemic with those that are struggling. Data aggregated from Forbes.

Businesses doing well during pandemic  Businesses struggling during pandemic  
E-commerceLive Events
Media and GamingRestaurants
Video ConferencingOn-premise enterprise IT
Public CloudPhysical Retail
CybersecurityIT Services
Health TechTravel and Hospitality

And, according to SP Global, the five industries least impacted by COVID-19 are:

IndustryMedian PD as of March 1, 2020Median PD as of March 31, 2020
Property, Casualty Insurance0.59%1.06%
Health Care REITs0.55%0.52%
Multi-line Insurance0.59%0.92%
Life & Health Insurance0.62%1.00%
Industrial REITs0.08%0.55%

With all this in mind, we examine two prominent and long term marks the pandemic will be leaving on the startup ecosystem.

Wider Talent Pool

As COVID-19 claimed the lives of thousands of people around the world every day and as many traditional businesses felt the heat of the new reality, many SMEs and large corporations shifted to digital mode.

This opens up so many avenues for HR when it comes to hiring, and talent acquisition.

No longer constraint by location, proximity, nationality, or even time – HR managers literally have the world to choose from when it comes to their next hire, allowing for a stronger and more diversified team

Increased Non-Local Investors

The world is now closer to the tips of our fingers.

This new undeniable fact made it much easier to make solid decisions based on the outputs of our screen.

Furthermore, the increased usage of video conferencing for startup pitches that has paved the way for virtual meetings in 2020, allowing venture capitalists to become more comfortable in making and managing remote investments.

The pandemic brought forward a surge of investments for big tech as Q3 of 2020 went down to be the second consecutive record quarter for big tech investments, according to CB Insights.

What does this mean?

The money is still there, the pace is getting even faster and more people are out to get it.

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