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THE MOBILE AND IOT TIDAL WAVE IS UPON US: ARE YOU READY?

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THE MOBILE AND IOT TIDAL WAVE IS UPON US: ARE YOU READY?

Nassar Hussain, managing director of SOTI Europe 

Currently, around 23 billion ‘things’ are connected to the world’s numerous communication networks and more are joining at a rapid speed. For consumers, these include everything from connected fridges to watches. The general hunger for both novelty and innovation is swiftly increasing as industry goliaths continue to release new products into the market.

Though machine-type communications are set to usher in the fourth industrial revolution, it is predicted at least 65 per cent of businesses will adopt a mass of connected devices by 2020 – more than twice the current rate. Manufacturers, logistics firms and retailers will be the first movers in this ‘internet of things’ (IoT) revolution, as they look to connect and automate process-driven functions.

The outcome of adopting connected devices is beneficial for every business, as they see investment in prominent technologies such as mobile devices key to ensuring they can serve their staff and customers, and bring them a greater understanding of consumers.

However great the perceived benefits are, connected devices bring new business challenges around scale, interoperability, security and the management of devices and endpoints. Starting at the coal-face, for those of us who rely on mobile devices for work purposes, the emotional fallout can be hard – recent research revealed 59 per cent admit to being stressed by technology and 29 per cent even voiced fears of losing their jobs due to technological failures. The stress of technical failures is 13 per cent higher for business owners, with 72 per cent concerned over the potential cost of data loss.

To ride the tech wave, enterprises must have a clear strategy for mobility management. It is essential to cover traditional devices and non-traditional ‘things’, such as connected cars; taking in technical issues like interoperability, security and more straightforward ones like filtering vast new oceans of data and what to save in the catch.Without a strategy in place, companies will find themselves throwing infinite resources into connecting everything to the internet, rather than just those that are crucial. So, what do businesses need to streamline mobile and IoT device management and harness the potential opportunities?

STEP 1: INTEGRATION

It seems device management is the most challenging task facing the market, as 45 per cent of companies are failing to enforce restrictions such as blocking apps. At a basic level, connected devices must be properly coordinated if businesses are to easily access and manipulate the data available to them, regardless of its origin. Using an integrated suite of mobility solutions offers a clever, quick, and reliable way for businesses to build their apps faster and manage their mobile devices and IoT endpoints.

Additionally, a closely integrated device and IoT management system can bring added benefits to companies seeking to bring order to the rising confusion of IoT connectivity. Businesses must recognise what can be achieved through IoT, not just by creating “smart” devices, but by providing business intelligence and improving productivity, cutting costs and improving the customer experience. Refined mobility management solutions give real-time insights into remote device performance, which can be tapped into by help-desk teams to run device diagnostics, solve technical issues and maintain staff productivity.

Likewise, the most cutting edge device and IoT management solutions cover rapid cross-platform app development, so businesses can deploy enterprise applications for their own specific devices in a fraction of the time. Ultimately, if network inter-play must be solved by the technology industry at large, the working integration of connected devices is the responsibility of leadership teams and IT departments within enterprises themselves.

STEP 2: SECURITY

The recent WannaCry ransomware attack, which impacted 200,000 computers globally, makes it all too clear that this dynamism makes us vulnerable. By 2020 it is estimated that the number of connected devices will be 30 billion, but with each new device comes a new way for criminals to access the system.

Undoubtedly, mobile IoT devices must be secured and maintained properly, but while governments and industry bodies work out the detail to increase minimum security-levels, it is essential that enterprises consider their own network, device and data security. New devices should have the right security certifications but much more can be done to support devices and data.

Companies should expect device management solutions to enforce authentication, including biometric and two-factor authentication, in order to stop unauthorised access to valuable company data and documents. They should also expect full device storage encryption to ensure sensitive company information present on mobile devices in the field is as secure as data on an office-based workstation.

In case they are lost or stolen, IoT devices should also be trackable and wipeable in while the wireless access and the network connection must remain constantly private and secure.

STEP 3: SIMPLICITY

Approximately 90 per cent of all data has been created in the past two years. The sheer volume of data available to us is over-whelming and intellectually crippling if it is not understood and processed swiftly.

Likewise, companies must efficiently filter and  understand the data they capture. Businesses should take deliberate stock with specialist data analysts and mobility management providers, and evaluate the types of data they have – looking at the insights they can gain, and how these will distinguish them.

It also requires experimenting; the process to insight and differentiation is iterative. It is foolish to jump into this sea of data and try to swim; it is far better to build a vessel on dry land, test it in the shallows, and then to guide it towards new horizons. Once the boat has been constructed and set afloat, the main navigation can be automated with periodic check-ups to master the course.

Human input is crucial from the beginning and throughout, but the most recent data analytics and machine learning engines can lighten the load – especially as the sea widens with the flood of new data from new ‘things’.

For businesses entering uncharted waters, it is vital to not only ‘think big’ but also to retain extremely close attention to detail. Their approaches need to be right for their strategy and market. Trying to achieve too much at once can end up being counterproductive; the real value from IoT lies in doing the smaller things well and building on that. Companies which refuse to take these precautionary measures will find themselves drowning in data. By focusing on integration, device management and interpreting data, businesses can avoid falling adrift and ride the wave of success.

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UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout

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UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout 1

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is seeking to build a consensus among G7 nations on how to stop large technology companies exploiting their dominance, warning that there can be no repeat of Facebook’s one-week media blackout in Australia.

Facebook’s row with the Australian government over payment for local news, although now resolved, has increased international focus on the power wielded by tech corporations.

“We will hold these companies to account and bridge the gap between what they say they do and what happens in practice,” Britain’s digital minister Oliver Dowden said on Friday.

“We will prevent these firms from exploiting their dominance to the detriment of people and the businesses that rely on them.”

Dowden said recent events had strengthened his view that digital markets did not currently function properly.

He spoke after a meeting with Facebook’s Vice-President for Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister.

“I put these concerns to Facebook and set out our interest in levelling the playing field to enable proper commercial relationships to be formed. We must avoid such nuclear options being taken again,” Dowden said in a statement.

Facebook said in a statement that the call had been constructive, and that it had already struck commercial deals with most major publishers in Britain.

“Nick strongly agreed with the Secretary of State’s (Dowden’s) assertion that the government’s general preference is for companies to enter freely into proper commercial relationships with each other,” a Facebook spokesman said.

Britain will host a meeting of G7 leaders in June.

It is seeking to build consensus there for coordinated action toward “promoting competitive, innovative digital markets while protecting the free speech and journalism that underpin our democracy and precious liberties,” Dowden said.

The G7 comprises the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada, but Australia has also been invited.

Britain is working on a new competition regime aimed at giving consumers more control over their data, and introducing legislation that could regulate social media platforms to prevent the spread of illegal or extremist content and bullying.

(Reporting by William James; Editing by Gareth Jones and John Stonestreet)

 

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Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit

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Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit 2

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Friday it would offer a fast-track visa scheme for jobs at high-growth companies after a government-backed review warned that financial technology firms will struggle with Brexit and tougher competition for global talent.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak said that now Britain has left the European Union, it wants to make sure its immigration system helps businesses attract the best hires.

“This new fast-track scale-up stream will make it easier for fintech firms to recruit innovators and job creators, who will help them grow,” Sunak said in a statement.

Over 40% of fintech staff in Britain come from overseas, and the new visa scheme, open to migrants with job offers at high-growth firms that are scaling up, will start in March 2022.

Brexit cut fintechs’ access to the EU single market and made it far harder to employ staff from the bloc, leaving Britain less attractive for the industry.

The review published on Friday and headed by Ron Kalifa, former CEO of payments fintech Worldpay, set out a “strategy and delivery model” that also includes a new 1 billion pound ($1.39 billion) start-up fund.

“It’s about underpinning financial services and our place in the world, and bringing innovation into mainstream banking,” Kalifa told Reuters.

Britain has a 10% share of the global fintech market, generating 11 billion pounds ($15.6 billion) in revenue.

The review said Brexit, heavy investment in fintech by Australia, Canada and Singapore, and the need to be nimbler as COVID-19 accelerates digitalisation of finance, all mean the sector’s future in Britain is not assured.

It also recommends more flexible listing rules for fintechs to catch up with New York.

“We recognise the need to make the UK attractive a more attractive location for IPOs,” said Britain’s financial services minister John Glen, adding that a separate review on listings rules would be published shortly.

“Those findings, along with Ron’s report today, should provide an excellent evidence base for further reform.”

SCALING UP

Britain pioneered “sandboxes” to allow fintechs to test products on real consumers under supervision, and the review says regulators should move to the next stage and set up “scale-boxes” to help fintechs navigate red tape to grow.

“It’s a question of knowing who to call when there’s a problem,” said Kay Swinburne, vice chair of financial services at consultants KPMG and a contributor to the review.

A UK fintech wanting to serve EU clients would have to open a hub in the bloc, an expensive undertaking for a start-up.

“Leaving the EU and access to the single market going away is a big deal, so the UK has to do something significant to make fintechs stay here,” Swinburne said.

The review seeks to join the dots on fintech policy across government departments and regulators, and marshal private sector efforts under a new Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT).

“There is no framework but bits of individual policies, and nowhere does it come together,” said Rachel Kent, a lawyer at Hogan Lovells and contributor to the review.

($1 = 0.7064 pounds)

(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Jane Merriman and John Stonestreet)

 

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G20 to show united front on support for global economic recovery, cash for IMF

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G20 to show united front on support for global economic recovery, cash for IMF 3

By Michael Nienaber and Andrea Shalal

BERLIN/WASHINGTON/ROME (Reuters) – The world’s financial leaders are expected on Friday to agree to continue supportive measures for the global economy and look to boost the International Monetary Fund’s resources so it can help poorer countries fight off the effects of the pandemic.

Finance ministers and central bank governors of the world’s top 20 economies, called the G20, held a video-conference on Friday. The global response to the economic havoc wreaked by the coronavirus was at top of the agenda.

In the first comments by a participating policymaker, the European Union’s economics commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said the meeting had been “good”, with consensus on the need for a common effort on global COVID vaccinations.

“Avoid premature withdrawal of supportive fiscal policy” and “progress towards agreement on digital and minimal taxation” he said in a Tweet, signalling other areas of apparent accord.

A news conference by Italy, which holds the annual G20 presidency, is scheduled for 17.15 (1615 GMT)

The meeting comes as the United States is readying $1.9 trillion in fiscal stimulus and the European Union has already put together more than 3 trillion euros ($3.63 trillion) to keep its economies going despite COVID-19 lockdowns.

But despite the large sums, problems with the global rollout of vaccines and the emergence of new variants of the coronavirus mean the future of the recovery remains uncertain.

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz warned earlier on Friday that recovery was taking longer than expected and it was too early to roll back support.

“Contrary to what had been hoped for, we cannot speak of a full recovery yet. For us in the G20 talks, the central task remains to lead our countries through the severe crisis,” Scholz told reporters ahead of the virtual meeting.

“We must not scale back the support programmes too early and too quickly. That’s what I’m also going to campaign for among my G20 colleagues today,” he said.

BIDEN DEBUT

Hopes for constructive discussions at the meeting are high among G20 countries because it is the first since Joe Biden, who vowed to rebuild cooperation in international bodies, became U.S. president.

While the IMF sees the U.S. economy returning to pre-crisis levels at the end of this year, it may take Europe until the middle of 2022 to reach that point.

The recovery is fragile elsewhere too – factory activity in China grew at the slowest pace in five months in January, hit by a wave of domestic coronavirus infections, and in Japan fourth quarter growth slowed from the previous quarter with new lockdowns clouding the outlook.

“The initially hoped-for V-shaped recovery is now increasingly looking rather more like a long U-shaped recovery. That is why the stabilization measures in almost all G20 states have to be maintained in order to continue supporting the economy,” a G20 official said.

But while the richest economies can afford to stimulate an economic recovery by borrowing more on the market, poorer ones would benefit from being able to tap credit lines from the IMF — the global lender of last resort.

To give itself more firepower, the Fund proposed last year to increase its war chest by $500 billion in the IMF’s own currency called the Special Drawing Rights (SDR), but the idea was blocked by then U.S. President Donald Trump.

Scholz said the change of administration in Washington on Jan. 20 improved the prospects for more IMF resources. He pointed to a letter sent by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to G20 colleagues on Thursday, which he described as a positive sign also for efforts to reform global tax rules.

Civil society groups, religious leaders and some Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. Congress have called for a much larger allocation of IMF resources, of $3 trillion, but sources familiar with the matter said they viewed such a large move as unlikely for now.

The G20 may also agree to extend a suspension of debt servicing for poorest countries by another six months.

($1 = 0.8254 euros)

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber in Berlin, Jan Strupczewski in Brussels and Gavin Jones in Rome; Andrea Shalal and David Lawder in Washington; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Susan Fenton and Crispian Balmer)

 

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