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Harnessing the power of Big Data

Yehia El Amine

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In today’s digital economy, data is king of the hill.

Data has transformed into valuable capital that fuels the production of digital goods and services. Just as automakers can’t manufacture new vehicle models without the necessary financial capital, it can’t make its cars autonomous if it lacks the data to feed the onboard algorithms.

Data management systems are built on data management platforms and can include databases, data lakes, and warehouses, big data management systems, data analytics, and more.

From there, data and analytics combined with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI)-powered technologies will prove to be vital in efforts to predict, prepare, and respond in a proactive and accelerated manner to a global crisis and its aftermath, all while keeping up with the worldwide digital-first attitude.

A report by Gartner predicts that by the end of 2024, 75 percent of enterprises will shift from piloting to operationalizing AI, driving a 5X increase in streaming data and analytics infrastructures.

In parallel, the rise of data management also carries with it the rise of data governance.

According to Gartner analysts, while data governance is a core component of an overall data management strategy, organizations should focus on the desired business outcomes of a governance program instead of the data itself.

“This is top of mind for many organizations given the growing availability of data and desire to find new business insights. In my opinion, data governance is becoming a boardroom conversation regarding data privacy and security,” Cindy Maike, VP of Industry Solutions, at U.S.-based Cloudera, told Inside Telecom.

Maike added that with cloud computing usage on the rise, companies will require more robust data governance programs to ensure the “data sprawl” does not happen and, if it does, that data is properly managed and governed. 

In turn, AI will have a major role to play in how companies approach their data.

According to Maike, AI goes hand-in-hand with data governance and how and when data can and should be used.

“More companies are using data de-identification and anonymization techniques, but they also need to make sure processes and practices are established to ensure that when they combine data they do not ‘undo’ the anonymization routine,” Cloudera’s VP of Industry Solutions highlighted.

These corporate trends have allowed organizations such as ForHumanity – a U.S.-based nonprofit that examines risks related to AI and automation – to begin developing industry frameworks which companies can leverage when developing AI-based models.

A recent report by Research & Markets predicts that the global market for AI in big data and IoT as a whole will exceed $26B by 2025, as AI makes IoT data 25 percent more efficient and analytics 42 percent more effective for various industries.

This data-fueled shift will be heavily impacted by other emerging technologies, especially by the rollout of the fifth generation of mobile networks.

Maike considers that 5G will be one of the foundations of the ecosystem of connected devices, be it phones or the plethora of sensors which exist and continue to grow in businesses, and our individual lives.

“The data will need to flow securely and with the speed to support real-time analytics and decisions to be made at the edge. Thus, making 5G a critical enabler as it delivers the high reliability and low latency this connectivity requires,” she added.

This places the telecoms industry center stage for enabling “connected ecosystems” which is about connecting the digital world and its various participants.

“We see this in Smart City initiatives, connected cars and other areas of connected healthcare.  The telecom industry is at the heart of this, with 5G enabling the capability to connect different devices with the flow of data,” Maike told Inside Telecom.

Cloudera has helped telecom organizations with understanding where and how to optimize their networks and bandwidth, as well as supporting the vast amounts of new subscribers that telecom companies are serving, while improving customer care as a key focus area.

The company is also driving innovation in terms of aiding companies assess the data needed to support their business strategy, they will also look to leverage different infrastructures from cloud, and on-prem, to hybrid models, to support their data strategy in a secure and cost-effective manner.

A study by Gartner forecasts that by 2022, public cloud services will be essential for 90 percent of data and analytics innovation.

“As data and analytics moves to the cloud, data and analytics leaders still struggle to align the right services to the right use cases, which leads to unnecessary increased governance and integration overhead,” the study highlighted.

The ability to harness real-time, highly granular data across a wide range of operations and services will change the way both urban and business environments are managed and experienced. They will unlock a multitude of opportunities for both businesses and government organizations to better serve societies and to help keep up with the technological advancements edging closer over the horizon.

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Yehia is an investigative journalist and editor with extensive experience in the news industry as well as digital content creation across the board. He strives to bring the human element to his writing.

Technology

UAE’s ICT regulator adds ‘digital government’ among duties as it rebrands

Inside Telecom Staff

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digital government

The UAE’s Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) announced on Monday a new brand identity that reflects its organization of the telecoms sector.

The announcement – which was made in a virtual press conference – is in line with a decree published in September 2020 including the addition of the “digital government” to its responsibilities and changed its name, which was voted upon by the regulator’s board back in December of the same year.

“Today we launch the new identity of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority, which expresses the Authority’s aspirations for the next 50 years. It is embodied in the investment of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and 5G potential for enabling digital government and achieving digital transformation,” Hamad Obaid, Director General of the authority said in a statement.

According to a statement by the regulator, the new identity reflects the central role of TDRA in line with the orientation of the UAE over the next fifty years – which includes accelerating the pace of digital transformation in the country and shaping a future based on advanced technology supported by artificial intelligence, smart cities, and a knowledge-based society and economy.

“Digital transformation is now a strategic social and economic program aimed at facilitating people’s lives and providing them with quick solutions and services around the clock,” Al Mansoori added.

During the virtual conference, TDRA’s head highlighted that the added responsibility of “digital government” is a completely different concept, as it goes beyond providing services. “It seeks to enhance the quality of life … employ digital data and technologies supported by artificial intelligence in people’s transactions, relationships and lives,” Al Mansoori explained.

“We are witnessing a full digital transformation […] electronic government was started before 2000, mobile government was started in 2013 and today we are talking about a digital government supported by data and [the] Fourth Industrial Revolution,” Al Mansoori, told reporters on Monday.

The effects of the novel COVID-19 pandemic have skyrocketed the use of digital services within the UAE and the world due companies adopting a remote working policy to keep businesses going. In parallel, the country had temporary lifted a ban on voice-over-Internet protocol applications and other video conferencing software to boost the new working norm.

“We think digitally, interact digitally, design digitally, work digitally and present our products digitally. This becomes an integral part of the daily life of individuals in the government or in the private sector as they are working more remotely due to the pandemic,” Al Mansoori added.

According to numbers provided by the regulator, the total number of Internet subscriptions in the UAE totaled nearly 3 million in December, almost the same as in November; TDRA also reported that there are almost 33 broadband Internet connections per 100 residents within the country.

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Late president’s book outlines vision for Japan’s Nintendo

Associated Press

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Late president's book outlines vision for Japan's Nintendo

Nintendo’s late president Satoru Iwata oversaw the video-game maker’s global growth as Super Mario and Pokemon became household names.

“Ask Iwata” was published after his death from cancer in 2015 at age 55. This month, VIZ Media is publishing the English translation of the book, which came out in Japanese in 2019.

“On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer,” Iwata once said, one of many quotes that stand out in the book.

Throughout the book, Iwata outlines his vision for Nintendo Co., which was to offer entertainment that everyone in the family could enjoy, regardless of age, gender and game playing skills. The company culture he fostered encouraged individual game creators, showing he was one of them at heart.

Iwata was of a younger generation than the vanguard of Japanese manufacturing leaders who have grabbed global attention: Soichiro Honda, founder of the automaker that carries his name; Momofuku Ando, inventor of the instant noodle; Akio Morita, who started Sony in a repair shop amid bombed out rubble.

Kyoto-based Nintendo started out making traditional Japanese playing cards. Iwata took over in 2002, and presided over video game offerings like the Wii console and the Nintendo DS handheld, as well as games played on cell phones.

The company’s performance has had ups and downs like a Super Mario roller-coaster ride, but has done well lately as people stuck at home due to the pandemic turned to games. Profits for the nine months through December doubled from a year earlier to nearly 377 billion yen ($3.4 billion).

That good fortune might not last as normal activities resume with vaccine rollouts, a change likely to crimp sales to the casual game users who make up Nintendo players, rather than the core gamers rival consoles tend to attract.

The hoped-for end to the pandemic is likely to coincide, analysts say, with a peak in the so-called “life cycle,” or duration of consumer appeal, of Nintendo’s console offerings like the Switch. Questions also remain about Nintendo’s ability to monetize on the growing sector of mobile games.

Consoles could continue to evolve, such as those with virtual reality, analysts say. Nintendo also has intellectual property, driving lucrative businesses such as merchandizing and theme parks.

All those businesses thrived under Iwata’s presidency.

Kenshu Kikuzawa, professor of business administration at Keio University, believes that Japanese companies’ strengths come from its traditional practices like lifetime employment and pay raises by seniority, which still characterize major Japanese companies including Nintendo.

That in turns, breeds employee loyalty, which Kikuzawa believes is important in the creative work that drives Nintendo.

Japanese companies should stick to being Japanese, doing what they do best, craftsmanship-like manufacturing, Kikuzawa said, exactly as Iwata led Nintendo.

“Nintendo is in many ways a very old-fashioned Japanese company,” he said. “Ultimately, Nintendo employees just really love Nintendo. Loyalty to the company is fierce.”

That kind of emotional commitment allows a company to overcome difficulties, even during periods of financial losses, as employees hang on and work hard for a turnaround, he said.

Iwata showed talent for programming as a youngster. He was working part-time at Japan’s HAL Laboratory, known for the “Kirby” games and collaborating with Nintendo, before he graduated from the prestigious Tokyo Institute of Technology. He first made games for Nintendo Famicom machines, which came out in the 1980’s.

Iwata was promoted to head HAL before taking the helm at Nintendo. His colleagues say he was a good listener, interviewing everyone at the company twice a year, trying to be fair and respectful.

“My plan was to be a sounding board and to get a sense of what was happening, but when I sat down with each person individually, I was blown away by how much I was learning,” Iwata wrote.

Shigesato Itoi, a writer, actor and creator of Nintendo’s “EarthBound” game series, featured comments from Iwata’s book on his personal website, and deeply admired him.

“I have never seen him blame anyone or speak ill of anyone,” said Itoi, who knew Iwata for 25 years, and says he loved him like a younger brother.

Instead of Hollywood-style grand battles, Japan excels at more peaceful blockbusters, like Nintendo’s “Animal Crossing,” Itoi said. He likened the game, which simulates living in a village, to children playing house.

“It wasn’t exactly something that many experts in the game industry expected the world to find fun,” he said. “What Japan has to offer still has great potential.”

Iwata sought to appeal to people who’d never played games before and to those who used to play but quit, said Kensuke Yabe, professor at Chukyo University’s School of Global Studies.

“He had superbly good instincts about what was happening on the ground. To maximize their appeal, he made sure Nintendo consoles were designed for the living room,” said Yabe.

When the Wii came out, Iwata insisted the controller be called a “remote,” a more familiar term evoking TV sets, rather than “controller.” He liked games for learning English, hanging out with a dog and cooking food.

“A video game is interesting when you can have fun simply watching someone play,” Iwata wrote.


TOKYO (AP) — By YURI KAGEYAMA

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Domino’s collaborates with Nuro on test launch of autonomous pizza delivery

Inside Telecom Staff

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autonomous pizza delivery

Global pizza giant Domino’s and Nuro, a top self-driving delivery company, are launching a test autonomous pizza delivery vehicle in Houston, Texas, the companies announced on Monday.

Beginning this week, select customers who place a pre-paid order through the Domino’s website on certain days and times from the Domino’s in Woodland Heights, located at 3209 Houston Ave., can choose to have their pizza delivered by Nuro’s R2 robot.

Nuro’s R2 is the first completely autonomous, occupantless on-road delivery vehicle with a regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

This collaboration between Domino’s and Nuro will introduce an entirely new delivery experience to pizza lovers.

How it works

Select customers who place a pre-paid website order from the participating Domino’s store can opt to have their pizza delivered by R2. Customers who are selected will receive text alerts, which will update them on R2’s location and provide them with a unique PIN to retrieve their order.

Customers may also track the vehicle via GPS tracking on their order confirmation page. Once R2 arrives, customers will be prompted to enter their PIN on the bot’s touchscreen. R2’s doors will then gently open upward, revealing the customer’s hot Domino’s pizza, the companies said in a joint statement.

“We’re excited to continue innovating the delivery experience for Domino’s customers by testing autonomous delivery with Nuro in Houston,” said Dennis Maloney, Domino’s senior vice president and chief innovation officer.

“There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space. This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations,” Maloney added. “The growing demand for great-tasting pizza creates the need for more deliveries, and we look forward to seeing how autonomous delivery can work along with Domino’s existing delivery experts to better support the customers’ needs.”

Nuro notes of itself that its mission is to better everyday life through robotics. The company’s custom autonomous vehicles are designed to bring the things customers, from produce to prescriptions, right to the home.

“Nuro’s mission is to better everyday life through robotics. Now, for the first time, we’re launching real world, autonomous deliveries with R2 and Domino’s,” said Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder and president. “We’re excited to introduce our autonomous delivery bots to a select set of Domino’s customers in Houston. We can’t wait to see what they think.”

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