Poor decisions regarding technology risk widening the “inequality gap”.

A new study published by the Fabian Society and the Commission on Workers and Technology has suggested that British businesses which leave employees in the dark over new technologies risk widening the “gap of inequality”.

The study, which questioned almost 1200 employees, highlighted that communication regarding the introduction of new technology systems was lacking; three out of five employees were not consulted about the use of a new technology at work.   Many described that senior management “shut them out” of decisions made with regard to technical innovations, despite the fact that their jobs would be significantly altered by these digital and tech implementations.

Technology and its use in the workplace has led many workers to fear for the security of their positions.  As technology becomes increasingly efficient, it has negated the need for a human workforce within some sectors.  Data entry, warehouse and logistics are just a couple of areas across where robotics and AI are becoming more and more prevalent. 

Earlier this month, a report from Harvey Nash and KPMG found that more than a fifth of roles in the labour market were set to be taken over by Artificial Intelligence systems over the next 5 years.

Labour MP, Yvette Cooper heads up the Fabian Society and the Commission on Workers and Technology.  Following the publication of the report, she believes that employers need to engage with their staff on issues around technology;  

“…there is an urgent need for politicians, trade unions and business leaders to act now to ensure technological change benefits everyone rather than widening existing inequalities.”

She is also expected to outline the benefits that AI holds for industry and how we work on a day to day basis.  Indeed, if the workforce is empowered through knowledge and training, AI can significantly improve both our productivity and job satisfaction.   It has the power to relieve us of demanding physical tasks, take over repetitive admin duties and allow us to spend more time on the most meaningful parts of our jobs.

Technology isn’t going anywhere.  The face of industry across all sectors is changing.  More and more companies are having to “go digital” to compete with their competitors and to meet customer expectations.  Companies have an obligation to equip their staff with the skills and training needed to use this tech and reap the rewards of their considerable financial investment; innovation never does come cheap.  This has to be a two way street though…teams have got to be willing to embrace and work with change. Perhaps if the decision makers had a more collaborative approach towards tech innovation and new system implementations, they may get a better return on their investment.

3D printing platform Carbon raises $260 million.

3D printing has been highlighted as a tech “mega-trend”; one of a handful of revolutionary technological progressions that look set to disrupt our world in a way that we’ve never seen before.   Pamela Rice, chief technology officer of fintech company, Earnest believes that as such, this technology will result in a blurring of our physical, digital, and biological worlds.

In line with this prediction, it has been reported this week that the face of digital manufacturing and 3D printing, Carbon has raised $260 million in a growth round of funding, significantly boosting their valuation.

Earlier this year, Pitchbook estimated that Carbon could be valued at up to $2.5 billion, and with this latest round it appears these estimations were not far off the mark.  It has now been concluded that the company has in fact reached a valuation of $2.4 billion.

Carbon was founded in 2013.  Since then it has emerged as a leader in developing 3D printing technologies.  Their work has significantly widened the scope for more creators and companies to embrace digital manufacturing.

The company operates at the intersection between “hardware, software, and materials science” to create complex and intricate constructions.  They work with “digital light synthesis” technology, combining light projection with programmable resins to transform liquids into solid materials; the results of which are products both lightweight and sturdy.

Carbon’s technology is being put to work across a host of industries. Automotive companies such as Ford are utilising Carbon’s 3D printing methodologies to digitally manufacture polymer parts for its F-150 and Mustang vehicles, while  Adidas and American football equipment manufacturers, Riddell have used Carbon’s tech to produce the next generation wave of shoes and helmet protection respectively.

From our Bristol based HQ, we at Ignite don’t even have to look as far afield as the US to see the difference 3D printing has made on a very human level.  Bristol-based, Open Bionics has recently raised nearly £6 million to develop its range of medically certified 3D printed prosthetic ‘Hero Arms’; the first to be available for children as young as 8. 

Quite apart from the performance and product quality Carbon’s tech affords companies, they also have another string to their bow.  3D printing facilitates the mass customisation of products and creates an on-demand inventory. In short, companies can produce goods to match demand, rather than mass-producing millions of items without knowing how much they will actually sell.  

News from across the wider industry certainly supports these plans.  Manufacturing is estimated to become a $12 trillion industry globally, and as such we have borne witness to a broad push in optimising manufacturing processes across the board.   Hand in hand with this, digital manufacturing looks to be a trend that is indeed, “mega”. Investment in the space has been prolific of late.  

3D metal printing technology company Desktop Metal, closed a $160 million investment round earlier this year, while industrial 3D printing company, Markforged has raised $82 million.

Carbon’s impressive round was co-led by Madrone Capital Partners and Baillie Gifford, with participation from Sequoia Capital, Adidas Ventures, Johnson & Johnson Innovation (JJDC), Fidelity Management & Research Company, JSR Corporation, Temasek, and Arkema.

With another $260 million in the bank, Carbon is now well positioned to grow its platform, and has Europe and Asia in its sights.  They also have plans to accelerate their R&D efforts. This will in part involve setting up an advanced development facility (ADF) that will serve as a “scaled-up manufacturing environment” to support the anticipated growth of both the company and the wider market.

Panasonic to build smart roadways for connected cars.

Progressions within the connected car space network are due to make our roads safer.  Helping to drive this innovation are electricals heavyweights, Panasonic.  

On Tuesday, Panasonic announced they are expanding on the work they have already done on smart roadways across the US.  They follow their past work in Colorado, by partnering with the Utah Department of Transportation (UDoT) in order to develop the USA’s most advanced transportation data network.  

This network is aimed at improving safety and mobility on the road by facilitating real-time data sharing between vehicles, infrastructure, roadways, and traffic operators.  UDOT Traffic Operations Center personnel will gain insights into critical events which may disrupt traffic flow; crashes, severe weather, or stalled vehicles for example— and will be able to immediately alert connected vehicle drivers with alternate routes, delay times, and other helpful information.

However, it is a lot more complicated than it sounds.  A fully functioning smart network works a lot better when vehicles are equipped with tags that are able to communicate with the roadway sensors.  It will be some time before all cars on the road will be fitted with a tag, and in turn be able to feed data to the smart network; even with an aftermarket tag solution.

New cars are being fitted with tags as standard at the point of manufacture, however.  Indeed, the US federal government may even go as far as to mandate implementation of the onboard tags during the manufacturing process.  Jarrett Wendt, executive VP of Panasonic North America confirmed that some car manufacturers have already committed to putting the tags in their 2021 models of vehicle.

The Panasonic / UDOT team up will advance the entire connected vehicle ecosystem.  It will accelerate the formation of a statewide system for the collection, monitoring, and sharing of connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) data.  It will pave the way for the wider development of a map of smart highway networks.  

Indeed, Wendt confirmed that it will be these smart highways which will be essential if self driving cars are to fulfill their future promise of making improvements to safety.  Wendt predicts that within 10 years, the number of deaths suffered on American roads could “significantly decline” should connected networks become commonplace across the nation.

Not only this.  The partnership will facilitate Utah to welcome the incoming wave of smart vehicles…those which are more autonomous, more connected and are able to operate more safely by using these inter-connected communication systems.  

The UDOT already has a lot of the framework for a connected future in place, so the future of the project looks promising.  Utah built the first operational connected vehicle corridor in the nation while state buses are equipped with special radios which already “talk” to the traffic signals.  Incredibly, if one of these buses is running late for example, the traffic signal can adapt its rhythm accordingly and stay green for longer to allow the bus through.  

As part of the $50 million alliance, Panasonic is thought to be ready to help install intelligent sensors along selected sections of Utah highways.  These sensors will transmit collected data at a rate of 10 times per second through a central cloud based system. One particularly unique feature of the data network is its “open architecture”.  This modification will open up the virtual conversation and enable other DOTs and third-party developers to coordinate with UDOT. They will be able to develop and connect their own applications to address critical operations and safety, and maintenance needs on Utah roadways.

These are significant developments and provide an exciting blueprint for what we may expect from the connected car space over the coming years.  This partnership is one that will inform and guide how other electronics firms and departments of transport can use technology to produce progressive and safe transport systems.

Hewlett Packard Enterprises commit to “everything as a service” by 2022. 

As the sun sets on The Hewlett Packard Enterprise Discover conference that was held in Las Vegas this week, there were some big reveals from all departments.  Perhaps most notable though was the Company promise; Hewlett Packard made a market pledge to deliver “everything as a service” by 2022.

A bold statement indeed from within the Enterprise IT arena where hardware still dominates the landscape and influences revenue.

The promise came from HP CEO Antonio Neri during his keynote on Tuesday. It covers both the hardware and software in the HP portfolio…in short, this means that in just three short years, every product that HP sells will be available as a service within the cloud.

For some time market leaders, HP have been looking for ways to bring their products closer to the cloud user experience.  For enterprise customers this holds all the multiple benefits of the cloud network; no investment in infrastructure, no running and maintenance costs and because you only pay for what you use; great value for money.  It also facilitates a constantly updated stream of features and frequent upgrades to the latest hardware.

Hewlett Packard first embarked on this journey back in 2017 when it launched Greenlake; the Umbrella brand for HPE’s on-premises solutions offered as a service.  So, instead of buying a hardware system, the supporting software and the necessary infrastructure management software needed to support it, a customer can have HPE deploy the system in their data center, manage it, and provide it to them as a service.   This is much like how other public cloud systems such as AWS operate, but with one key difference; HPE’s services are running out of the customer’s own facilities, not AWS’s, for example.

Proving popular, the GreenLake business has been growing faster than any other HPE business.  It serves more than 600 customers across 56 countries, and leads the industry in consumption-based services on-premises.

Dell Technologies are HPE’s biggest rival in the data center market, and recently rolled out an ‘as a service’ offering for on-premises hardware; a service operated by its subsidiary, VMware.

Revelations around the expansion to the GreenLake portfolio kicked off on Monday when HPE announced a new hybrid cloud partnership with Google Cloud.  The hybrid cloud will combine HPE’s ProLiant servers and Nimble storage with Anthos, Google’s recently unveiled software platform.  

Adding to this is the announcement that the expansion will see midsize customers able to benefit from GreenLake.  Until recently, it was only available to large enterprises. On Tuesday, however, the company announced that it’s expanding the business to support smaller organisations.

The HP EaaS product will also further ease the customer user experience.  Companies unable or unwilling to allocate their own data center space for their HPE-as-a-Service solution can turn to one of its two new co-location partners.   Large enterprise customers can turn to HPE facilities, CyrusOne and Equinix to access readily available space, power, and network connectivity. They will be able to can harness the benefit of private network links to hyperscale cloud platforms should they wish to use GreenLake as part of their hybrid-cloud setups. 

There were of course many other reveals from inside the HPE Discover Conference…For more on this and all the latest from these Tech giants click here!

 

About the author: I ensure that everyone at Ignite Digital Talent brings our brand values to life. I focus on building great relationships with both clients and candidates whilst also unearthing the best digital marketing professionals and opportunities on the market.

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