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Telenor: 10 tech trends that will shape 2020

The last decade has seen mobile service providers, device makers, and Internet companies build a virtual second world for consumers to live, work, and play in. As the industry gears up for 2020, Telenor Group’s research arm believes that consumers will reflect more on how real world and the new digital reality should safely and productively intersect. Among the list of 2020 tech trends it predicts include tech-arranged marriages, dirty data, clash of the streaming giants, and ethical AI.

According to head of Telenor Research, Bjørn Taale Sandberg, many of the trends it spotlights for 2020 show innovation “charging ahead faster than ever”,  enabled by more access and more demand, as well as by revolutionary new tech platforms and sociopolitical forces.

He added that other trends suggest that consumers are having a “common technological epiphany, a kind of digital realisation”. “People are waking up and examining how and where technologies, including AI, machine learning, IoT, and new network innovations will best and most securely connect them with the people and things that matter most,” he added.

Check out the list of trends most relevant to the marketing industry:

1. “Dirty data” is the new fake news

According to Telenor, the term “dirty data” will be used to question AI credibility. With the vast amounts of data and advanced analytics today, machines can point humans to the best option and even make decisions for us. However, if the data sets and processes are inaccurate, biased or even compromised, the decisions may end up being flawed or even illegal.

As data-driven decision-making from AI or machine learning become more common, it will be subject to more public scrutiny.

People will ask whether solutions are fair and unbiased, or whether the data used to train them was ‘dirty’.

Telenor said the EU and the data science community is very aware of this challenge, and is working hard to ensure data quality, start-ups focused on data auditing are seeing the light of day and significant research is going into finding solutions. The question is whether practitioners will manage to keep pace as new data is generated at astonishing speed.

2. Ethical AI gets in gear

Technology companies will experience a push from regulators, investors, employees, and society at large to develop and commercialise AI that prevents harm and advances humanity, increases societal and environmental well-being and respects human rights.

The year 2020 will bring about concrete policy actions in this area and real efforts from companies to connect AI ethics to value creation.

Telenor said that AI governance frameworks will become a new normal in the tech industry, including but not limited to voluntary ethical codes, ethics-by-design principles in software development, new governance structures and employee training programs.

3. Deepfake for the masses

While the use of new AI methods such as Generative Adversarial Networks has caught attention through deep fakes, use of similar technologies in creating digital content and fun apps is increasing in sophistication and popularity.

In 2020, AI-powered filters will no longer be enough, and the use of AI-generated content for video creation will fuel new must-have apps.

A similar development goes into smartphone photography where AI used for computational photography will bring digital content to a new level. For example, by stacking several pictures together to create a picture that is not possible to be captured in one shot.

4. DIY AI

While AI is in high demand, it is being held back by a significant shortage in AI talents and skills to build and train modern AI for production.

AI platforms with automated machine learning features will become increasingly popular as they provide convenient user-interfaces that make AI available to non-experts.

This will help more people and organisations develop their own AI technology. The promise is that general business users will be able to make use of AI without assistance from experts, but rather, from AI that trains itself.

5. What is the cost of trust?

The competition for consumer trust will intensify in 2020 and this will revolve around the mobile phone. A long line of scandals has plagued many of the internet and social media companies that leverage consumers’ mobile connections, leading people to take a second look at these organisations. Trust is at the core of all relationships, including those with customers, but the reality is that most consumers now share more personal info online than they share with their doctors. It is easier to do, it is built into daily behaviours and so far, it is much less regulated than the health sector.

In 2020, customers will increasingly reserve trust to companies who have a line of revenue independent from how much they know about them personally.

A majority of people in markets as diverse as Norway, Malaysia and Pakistan still believe that “free” services come at no cost, but Telenor sees signs of a growing minority of people who understand that these companies make their money from consumers’ data by using it to sell tailored advertisements.

6. Green gets mean

Green innovations go beyond hype and get real. While this year has seen brands stepping up to implement reusable shopping bags and plastic straw brands, Telenor said no one will be satisfied with empty words, greenwashing or drop-in-the-bucket efforts anymore. In 2020, green innovations are expected to go beyond the hype, using combinations of IoT, big data and AI tech to measure consumption, reduce demand and significantly reduce carbon footprints while cutting costs and building new revenue streams. This action comes as a result of consumers, investors, purchasers in the business world and employees demanding that companies get their act together.

The telco industry will be a crucial foundation of the future economy and can drive real change across multiple sectors in society, in collaboration with its suppliers, investors and customers. Telcos can encourage their equipment vendors, IoT hardware and mobile phone manufacturers to commit to higher climate ambitions, by using recycled raw materials, responsible minerals provisioning, renewable power, new modes of transportation and sustainable packaging.

7. Bringing big tech down to size

The power and influence of big tech will reach a tipping point in 2020, Telenor said. It is becoming apparent that a few global online companies are controlling information, disrupting job markets, and eating an increasingly large chunk of the global economy. This position gives them close to unrivaled market power on precious data needed to develop powerful AI algorithms for our automated future. Consumers will see a stronger push for regulations from governments and consumers. This could include taxation, data privacy and security, restrictions on political advertising and possibly company break-ups.

8. Clash of the streaming giants

Once upon a time, broadcast TV shows such as Friends dominated consumers’ social routines and water cooler chats around the world. Since then, HBO and Netflix have moved into our living rooms, supplementing the still-robust broadcast and cable offerings. They are now followed closely by the new AppleTV+ and Disney+ platforms and probably others soon, all of which are offering content featuring consumers’ favorite stars, powered by cinematic production budgets, and distributed on native interfaces and owned devices. The next year will bring us a battle of these streaming giants – and with it, more and better content than ever.

9. Gaming gold rush

Telenor said 2020 is going to be a great year for gamers. Apple has already launched its Arcade, and Google was not far behind with Stadia, both representing a renewal of the gaming industry. Apple Arcade gives subscribers access to all their exclusive offerings for download and offline play. Google Stadia is based on streaming and replaces local computational power with cloud computation. The next year will see them both broaden the footprint of gaming, but also offer Microsoft and Sony new, tough competition. Expect to see multiple industries including telecommunications make aggressive plays to take pieces of the lucrative gaming pie in the year

10. Fight phone scams with machine learning

Phone scams are on the rise in 2020. It could be a Wangiri call, or “one ring” call, which just rings once and drops, leaving a missed call from an international or unusual number. Users may be tempted to call this number back (at a premium price) and be forced to pay huge fees. People may also receive robo-calls saying that their bank account has been blocked and they need to call a scam number to reactivate it. To protect their customers, mobile operators are putting a deal of work into detecting and blocking these scams. In 2020, machine learning techniques will be an efficient tool for operators to prevent these phone scams and protect their customers.

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