Telenor’s 5 tech trends
Telenor’s annual sharing of tech trends this year, saw their research exercise focused upon the consequences of rapid digitalisation and the pandemic.
Bjørn Taale Sandberg, Head of Telenor Research, shared the five key tech trends that Telenor reserved, during an online briefing to local media.
The first trend has to do with something that has existed before the pandemic, and currently is exacerbated by it. There is a growing percentage of people who feel isolated and lonely, triggering a host of new health concerns. Chronic isolation can lead to a range of health maladies such as anxiety and depression.
Bjorn observed that technology to mitigate this has existed before, but never really really took off until now. He said, “ We predict that eHealth actors will develop and roll out new sets of tools and services related to mental health. In countries with full 5G implementation, we will likely see the first uses of augmented and virtual reality technology applied in holographic communication tools, already within the next year.”
He gave the example of Sweden which is working on augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies to allow people to see full 3D representations of persons they are talking to. A new generation of chatbots will also be launched according to Bjorn. These chatbots are AI-based and can respond to questions, initiate calls, offer entertainment, and conduct enriching activities that that can address isolation.
The second trend sees renewed focus on climate change. While in 2020, research had focused upon finding vaccines and slowing down the virus, there will be a shift towards the longer-running and underlying issues of climate change.
Bjorn pointed out America’s Biden administration rejoining the Paris Climate agreement, as one event that signifies this shift.
“Large funds are put into this. Technology will be developed to solve this (climate change) problem,” he said.
Among the solutions that will be developed, are AI-based ones for power management in different industries like telecoms. For example, Telenor is working on smart algorithms that learn usage patterns of radio network base stations so they can optimise power consumption by these base stations.
There is also increasing use of tech to make farming smarter and less reliant on pesticide, and to water crops in smart ways that can conserve. AI-powered micro IoT devices, called Tiny Machine Learning (TinyML), start operating as ultra-small and ultra-low powered drones take to the sky to expand drone monitoring of climate-exposed areas through image processing.
Have you ever experienced feelings of utter hopelessness and frustration when your mind draws another password blank? A New Normal habit we may have picked up, of spending more time online and using online services, also means more passwords to create and remember.
This challenge is growing and has exploded during the pandemic, and Bjorn observed that companies will respond more forcefully in 2021.
“As employees waste precious time struggling to remember their login details, we expect to see greater implementation of user-friendly security solutions in 2021. Password managers across sectors or iris and fingerprint scanning solutions will be more common, ensuring efficiency, security, and one less pain point for workers,” predicts Bjorn.
A massive shift from working in the office to working at home, has created new expectations among employees. People also expect to find amenities that support and facilitate their digital work style wherever they go, marking the dawn of the society-as-a-service age.
An internal study in Telenor showed employees were more productive working at home, initially. Over time however, they got tired and they started to miss their co-workers.
Bjorn expects companies will respond by giving employees the flexibility to work from outside the office. He explained, “To ensure the necessary competence for the future way of work, managers will increase the upskilling of employees in cyber security, digital hygiene, and the use of digital tools and technologies.”
A growing educational gap
There was a positive trend of the number of children out of school, declining before the pandemic.
The United Nations noted the number declining as much as 10-percent since 2018.
During the pandemic however, this trend is reversing.
About 1.6 billion children are impacted by school closures.
Since then, many schools have re-opened and where possible this means allowing students back into classrooms. But otherwise, schools turn to online learning on a digital platform.
Now, there is a gap caused by digitalisation, and this gap is very obvious between high-income and low-income populations.
Bjorn commented, “When kids miss a year of school, this is something that will live with them for a very long time. Unless it is addressed, it will be a sustained problem.”
Everybody must come together to alleviate this, even after the pandemic is gone because the issue of a digital gap will still remain.
Bjorn concluded, “If this urgent issue is not properly addressed, both internationally and within nations, we risk significant setback and a widening educational gap in the coming years. In order to bridge this gap, the education sector and ICT actors must join forces, working together to ensure robust and faster networks, and to promote and support digital literacy for all.”