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London Tech Week 2018: Four things you missed

A few weeks ago we saw London Tech Week hosting more than 300 events across the city, bringing together 55,000 people from more than 90 countries, showcasing the best and latest tech and innovation driving business acceleration through 2018 and beyond.

Here’s our quick summary of four things discussed:

  1. ArtificiaI Intelligence (AI)

At his opening address, London Mayor Sadiq Khan launched new research by CognitionX, underlining London’s role as one of the world’s leading tech hubs. The report shows that London is home to 758 artificial intelligence companies, more than twice as many as its closest rivals Paris and Berlin combined. You can read the full report here.

While much of the AI headlines were focused on the technology behind increasingly sophisticated chatbots and personal assistants, London Tech Week considered how AI intersects with emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Virtual Reality (VR), Blockchain and 5G, as well as its impact on health, education and transport. The message is clear: If we are ever to make full and effective use of the Big Data that these emerging technologies will generate then we will need to embrace and exploit AI to analyse and identify meaningful trends from it.

In March, O2’s parent company, Telefónica, launched the first release of Aura, known as O2 Ask in the UK, an artificial intelligence-powered digital assistant. Aura uses cognitive technology to transform how customers interact and manage their digital life with Telefónica. For now, Aura handles everyday mobile network requests such as checking customer data usage. However its cognitive capacity will enable it to provide more personalised services in the future, as well as anticipate what customers need.

  1. Smart City Initiatives

Sadiq Khan also announced London’s smart city initiative, which encourages London’s tech talent to help solve many of the city’s key challenges including poor air quality, connectivity and urban design. It’s part of a vision to make London the world’s smartest city.

Alongside this initiative, London’s Civic Innovation Challenge supports tech startups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to develop innovative solutions to the city’s biggest challenges, including tackling climate change, reducing inequality and supporting an ageing population.

At O2, we have been researching the effect that 5G will have on smart city initiatives. For example, our recent report The value of 5G for cities and communities, illustrated how 5G can help citizens and local council to generate £6 billion in productivity savings for the UK economy.

  1. Retail technology

These are challenging times for the retail sector and traditional high street retailers, in particular, are having to adapt rapidly in order to survive. Technology and its associated infrastructure are likely to form at least part of the solution, so it was little surprise that Tech London Advocates (TLA) chose London Tech Week to launch their RetailTech 50, one part of a mission to promote London as a centre of Retail Tech innovation.

Showcasing the most interesting and exciting RetailTech companies in London, these are the companies in whose hands the digital transformation of the retail industry depends. The successful startups came from a broad range of categories, including supply chain and delivery, payments, data & analytics, in-store tech and eCommerce & digital.

You can read more about the successful startups in TLA’s report.

  1. Talent and Skills

Whilst some predict a tech skills shortage, the discussion at London Tech Week was about education and nurturing digitally skilled workers at home. A key focus is on encouraging more women into tech industries, where currently just 19% of the tech workforce is female.

The extent and impact of the skills shortage remain to be seen. However a number of initiatives were proposed or launched at London Tech Week including:

  • The London Mayor’s £7m initiative to confront gender and ethnic under-representation in the tech sector.
  • Learning from grass roots organisations working to address diversity issues in tech.
  • Incentivising more students to study technology subjects at school and in higher education.
  • A new government ‘startup visa’ allowing people with a great idea to move to London and innovate.

Is your business technology fit? We feature regular posts and articles about technology in business on the O2 Business Blog.


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