The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic caused dips in many industries, affecting everything from investments to supply chain as the global population took refuge within the safety of their own homes throughout the majority of 2020.
However, many have noted that 2021 will be different, as numerous vaccines have mushroomed all over the world to kickstart the worldwide economy once more.
This claim can be backed up by a recent report by Gartner which projects an increase in worldwide IT spending by 6.2 percent from 2020, reaching $3.9 trillion in 2021. Last year, IT spending declined by 3.2 percent due to companies placing their expenditures on technology and services that were considered “mission-critical” during the initial stages of the pandemic.
While the speed of digital transformation during 2020 reached superior heights to support shift to remote working, education, and social interactions, it also had a negative touch to IT spending by the end of the year.
“CIOs have a balancing act to perform in 2021 — saving cash and expanding IT,” said John-David Lovelock, research vice president at Gartner. “With the economy returning to a level of certainty, companies are investing in IT in a manner consistent with their expectations for growth, not their current revenue levels. Digital business, led by projects with a short Time to Value, will get more money and board level attention going into 2021,” he added.
With that, 2021 looks to breath life within the IT spending segments across the board.
According to the report by Gartner, enterprise software is expected to have the strongest rebound of 8.8 percent, as remote work environments are expanded and improved. The devices segment will see the second highest growth in 2021 at 8 percent and is projected to reach $705.4 billion in IT spending.
“There are a combination of factors pushing the devices market higher,” said Lovelock. “As countries continue remote education through this year, there will be a demand for tablets and laptops for students. Likewise, enterprises are industrializing remote work for employees as quarantine measures keep employees at home and budget stabilization allows CIOs to reinvest in assets that were sweated in 2020,” he further explained.
The report further highlighted that through 2024, businesses will be forced to accelerate digital business transformation plans by at least five years to survive in a post-COVID-19 world that involves permanently higher adoption of remote work and digital touchpoints. Gartner forecasts global IT spending related to remote work will total $332.9 billion in 2021, an increase of 4.9 percent from 2020.
“Digital business represents the dominant technology trend in late 2020 and early 2021 with areas such as cloud computing, core business applications, security and customer experience at the forefront. Optimization initiatives, such as hyper automation, will continue and the focus of these projects will remain on returning cash and eliminating work from processes, not just tasks,” Lovelock noted.
While multiple COVID-19 vaccines are currently available, governments will continue to intervene to control the virus throughout the year; in parallel, geopolitical factors will also contribute to the generation inhibition of some regions such as Brexit, and the U.S.-China trade war.
Gartner projected that a return to 2019 spending patterns will not occur until 2022, despite many countries’ ability to recover at a much quicker rate. The report added that people-gathering industries, such as restaurants, travel and entertainment, will hover at the bottom long-term.
“COVID-19 has shifted many industries’ techquilibrium,” said Lovelock. “Greater levels of digitalization of internal processes, supply chain, customer and partner interactions, and service delivery is coming in 2021, enabling IT to transition from supporting the business to being the business. The biggest change this year will be how IT is financed, not necessarily how much IT is financed,” he highlighted.
Volvo Cars goes full electric by 2030, placing emphasis toward online sales
Swedish automaker Volvo announced on Tuesday plans to become a fully electric car company by 2030, a company statement reported.
According to Volvo, the automaker intends to only sell fully electric cars and phase out any car in its global portfolio with an internal combustion engine, including hybrids. The company’s transition towards becoming a fully electric car maker is part of its ambitious climate plan, which seeks to consistently reduce the life cycle carbon footprint per car through concrete action.
“To remain successful, we need profitable growth. So instead of investing in a shrinking business, we choose to invest in the future – electric and online,” said Håkan Samuelsson, chief executive. “We are fully focused on becoming a leader in the fast-growing premium electric segment.”
This move comes at a time where the electric vehicle charging station market witnesses a massive hike, with MarketsandMarkets reporting that by Level of Charging (Level 1, Level 2 & Level 3, by Charging Infrastructure (Normal Charge, Type-2, CCS, CHAdeMO and Tesla Supercharger), and DC fast charging, including fast and ultra-fast – is projected to grow from 2,115,000 units in 2020 to reach 30,758,000 units by 2027, at a CAGR of 46.6 percent.
“Factors such as growing demand for energy-efficient commuting and governments supporting electric vehicles through subsidies & tax rebates have led to automakers adopting to electric vehicles and growth of electric vehicle charging stations market,” the report said.
Adding, “Growing concerns over increased pollution by the automotive industry is the prime reason government bodies are promoting electric vehicles over conventional ones. They have recognized the need for promoting energy-efficient vehicles to reduce the increasing pollution.”
Volvo’s decision also builds on the expectation that legislation as well as a rapid expansion of accessible high quality charging infrastructure will accelerate consumer acceptance of fully electric cars.
To attract and encourage people to buy electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging stations, government bodies of various countries are introducing incentives that include large-scale discounts, lower electricity cost for charging, lower set-up cost of EV chargers, and subsidies for setting up EV chargers which, in some countries, may go up to one-third of setup cost.
Volvo Cars’ move towards full electrification comes together with an increased focus on online sales and a more complete, attractive, and transparent consumer offers under the name Care by Volvo. All fully electric models will be available online only.
According to the Swedish automaker, the 2030 ambition represents an acceleration of Volvo Cars’ electrification strategy, driven by strong demand for its electrified cars in recent years and a firm conviction that the market for combustion engine cars is a shrinking one.
“There is no long-term future for cars with an internal combustion engine,” said Henrik Green, chief technology officer. “We are firmly committed to becoming an electric-only car maker and the transition should happen by 2030. It will allow us to meet the expectations of our customers and be a part of the solution when it comes to fighting climate change.”
Volvo Cars launched its first fully electric car, the XC40 Recharge, in markets around the globe last year. Later today the company will reveal its second fully electric car, a new model in the 40 Series.
In coming years Volvo Cars will roll out several additional electric models, with more to follow. Already by 2025, it aims for 50 percent of its global sales to consist of fully electric cars, with the rest hybrids. By 2030, every car it sells should be fully electric.
According to the company statement, Volvo Car Group recorded an operating profit of $1 billion, a drop from its $1.69 billion in 2019. In parallel, revenue over the period amounted to $31.17 billion in 2020, a decline from the previous year’s $32.52 billion.
For the full year of 2020, global sales reached 661,713 cars (705,452 in 2019), a decline of 6.2 percent.
Autodesk announces executive leadership team hires
Autodesk, the CAD/CAM software titan, announced Thursday the hiring of Debbie Clifford as chief financial officer and Raji Arasu as chief technology officer.
The corporation makes software products and services for the architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, media, education, life science and entertainment industry sectors, and has been an industry leader for decades.
“We are thrilled to welcome both Debbie and Raji – two dynamic and accomplished executives – to Autodesk,” said Andrew Anagnost, CEO, and president of Autodesk.
“Debbie and Raji bring deep leadership experience and a passion for customer success,” he added. “Their addition to our executive leadership team – along with Diana Colella, who was recently appointed to lead our Media & Entertainment group – will inject fresh perspectives into our company and towards our goal of delivering the world’s leading design and make platform.”
Clifford, who currently serves as chief financial officer at SurveyMonkey, returns to Autodesk – where she spent 13 years in various financial leadership roles – and brings with her expanded financial, strategic, and operational experience. She will oversee all aspects of Autodesk’s finance, accounting, tax, treasury, operations, and investor relations teams.
Clifford serves on the board of Harmonic, a video technology and services company, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California Los Angeles, and a Master’s in Business Administration from Stanford Graduate School of Business.
“Accepting the CFO position at Autodesk is like coming home,” said Clifford. “I’m excited to reconnect with the exceptionally talented finance organization and help accelerate the next phase of Autodesk’s growth. I am thrilled to be back and can’t wait to get started.”
Arasu will join Autodesk from Intuit, where she serves as senior vice president of platform engineering. She will oversee and be responsible for Autodesk’s technology strategy and ensure alignment against long-term innovation priorities and short-term technology imperatives. Arasu will replace current Autodesk CTO Scott Borduin, who announced his intent to retire last year.
Raji Arasu is a technology executive with over 25 years of experience focused primarily on eCommerce, marketplaces, payments, and fintech systems. She specializes in leading through transformative change across people, product, platform, and process to accelerate customer benefits and revenue growth.
At Intuit, Arasu helped shape the platform strategy and technology culture, led its cloud journey and expanded foundational core capabilities that amplified the pace of innovation for Intuit’s customers. Prior to Intuit, Arasu served as Chief Technology Officer for StubHub and held leadership roles at eBay.
Arasu has received public recognition for technology leadership, promoting diversity, and mentoring women to be successful leaders in technology. She serves on the board of directors for NIC Inc. and MediaAlpha Inc.
“Autodesk has long been one of the world’s most innovative companies and I’m thrilled for the challenge and opportunity to lead a world-class team of technologists,” said Arasu. “It’s an exciting time to join the company as we seek to deliver solutions that enable our customers to make an impact and achieve better outcomes for their products, their businesses, and the world.”
Autodesk makes software for people who make things. Ranging from driving a high-performance car, working in a towering skyscraper, using a smartphone, or making a blockbuster film, the company may well have played a role in the design.
AI-enhanced measurements company acquired by MindMed
MindMed, an innovative psychedelic drug developer, has bought HealthMode, a machine-learning digital medicine company.
MindMed, the psychedelic medicine biotech company, announced in a release that it closed its acquisition of HealthMode, a digital medicine and therapeutics startup that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled digital measurement to increase the precision and speed of clinical research and patient monitoring.
The combination of these two companies will foster advancement and development of the growing area of psychedelic medicine for psychiatric uses in post-trauma, addiction treatment and a variety of other mental illness problems.
“The HealthMode acquisition marks the start of MindMed 2.0 as we seek to not only build a drug development company for psychedelic medicines, but also a comprehensive mental health technology platform to one day potentially launch these transformative medicines to patients in a scalable manner,” MindMed co-founder and CEO J.R. Rahn said in a statement.
The acquisition will help build a full stack digital mental health platform for psychedelic medicines; Ex-Pfizer Digital Medicine Executive Dr. Daniel R. Karlin and former Google AI/ML industry veteran Bradford Cross added to MindMed executive team, the companies said in a joint release.
MindMed discovers, develops, and deploys psychedelic inspired medicines and therapies to address addiction and mental illness. The company is assembling a compelling drug development pipeline of innovative treatments based on psychedelic substances including Psilocybin, LSD, MDMA, DMT and an Ibogaine derivative, 18-MC.
The MindMed executive team brings extensive biopharmaceutical experience to the company’s groundbreaking approach to developing the next generation of psychedelic inspired medicines and therapies.
HealthMode drives progression to next-generation clinical trials by developing and delivering AI-enhanced measurement methods for clinical trials. Its client partners represent a diverse set of stakeholders, from clinical researchers and drug developers at large pharmaceutical companies to academic medical centers, to startups entering the space.
The company’s AI-enhanced measurement techniques improve understanding of phenotype; streamline and provide assurance for screening and eligibility; provide early detection and mitigation of adverse events; and serve as sensitive, specific, objective, and low participant burden efficacy endpoints.
These measurements allow for meaningful integration of clinical trial data with real-world evidence and provide the basis for movement toward patient-specific measures.
Better measurement tools and the platforms to support them help HealthMode’s partners make data informed decisions, reduce uncertainty around enrollment and outcomes, de-risk development, and increase the speed at which novel therapeutics reach patients in need, according to HealthMode.
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