miércoles, 30 de septiembre de 2015

Towards the Alphabet Home

Internet of the Things is driving the acceleration of hyperconnectivity. We are walking towards the ubiquitous Internet with great strides and it looks that our own home will be full of devices connected to the network. According with a recent Business Insider report,  connected-home device shipments will grow at a compound annual rate of 67% over the next five years. This will mean reaching 1.8 billion units shipped in 2019. 

The growing business of Smart Home has not gone unnoticed to the digital giants, especially to the biggest of them: the company formerly known as Google. Getting ready to reap all the opportunities from the Smart Home business is one of the keys to understand the creation of Alphabet. The new organisation is definitive leap ahead in the strategy that started more than a year ago with the 3.2$ billion acquisition of Nest. Even more, it looks that the organisation of Google assets has been a Nest-oriented reorganisation. Nest now has the autonomy to develop its own alliances strategy and its reinforced in the agility needed to grow in a dynamic sector.

The Alphabet accumulation of assets around the Smart Homes business does not end in the Nest devices. In the last months other two elements of Alphabet´s Smart Home building were laid down. Firstly, an operating system and a communication protocol. Brillo and Weave is a clear step in the direction of trying to create a full Smart Home ecosystem following the successful model underpinned by Android in the mobile world. Secondly, a gateway for the interconnection of the Smart Home devices with the Internet. OnHub, based on Brillo OS, with its complete set of wireless protocols, aims to be the essential element of our connected home. 

Besides Alphabet, Apple and Alibaba are also developing its own strategies to grab their part of the business.  We should have few doubts that Smart Homes will be one of the hottest areas of the battle for the digital economy supremacy. But the main signal, as usual, is the interest of the company formerly known as Google. They want to make your home an Alphabet Home.

lunes, 28 de septiembre de 2015

#StartUp #TTIP #Reserach Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (28/9/2015)

Policy Lessons from Financing Innovative Firms

This paper seeks to summarise the lessons learned in seed and early stage finance based on OECD work focused on policies related to financing high growth firms, including angel investment and venture capital.

TTIP: Trade in services, investment and e-commerce

This document is the European Union's proposal for services, investment and e-commerce text. It was tabled for discussion with the US in the negotiating round of 12 -17 July 2015 and made public on 31 July 2015. The actual text in the final agreement will be a result of negotiations between the EU and US. The document contains the EU proposal for e-commerce and telecom services.

Annual Report on Research and Technological Development Activities of the European Union in 2014

The Annual Report on research and technological development activities of the European Union (EU) is prepared pursuant to Article 190 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of key measures undertaken in the reporting year

miércoles, 23 de septiembre de 2015

#SDG : #ICT and #digital not ready yet for prime time

This weekend the world will transit from the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Fifteen years after their approval as the targets to promote a global commitment towards development, MDG have been the catalyst of an unexpected success story. The last yearly report shows great advances  in all the indicators associated to each of the goals. 

From September 25th to September 27th the global leaders will meet to sign the already agreed new global targets for development. The SDG have already rise some criticism due to the high number of targets and its complex structure. While the MDG established just 8 global goals, the SDG will establish 17 global goals each of them with several sub targets.

During the implementation of the MDG, United Nations recognised the importance of ICT as enablers of the efforts for achieving the development objectives. This recognition was behind the creation in 2010 of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, a joint-venture of UNESCO and ITU. The main objective of the commission was boosting the importance of broadband on the international policy agenda and expanding broadband access in every country as a key to accelerating progress towards MDGs. 

Among the activities of the Broadband Commission is publishing a yearly report. The report contains advice for the design of broadband policies and a follow-up of five global indicators related with extending connectivity. The last report published on monday shows a progress in each of the indicators (Broadband as a universal policy, affordable connections, extending broadband to all the households, getting people online, gender equality in broadband access), although the progress is perhaps slower than would be desirable.

However, the great failure of the Broadband Commission and the global ICT community is not the improvable progress of global connectivity, but not having been able to make "digital" seen as a prime-time target in the new SDG. In spite of the above mentioned duplication of development goals, ICTs are included in the SDG only in the second level of subtargets. The set of success stories on how ICTs has helped the 8 MDG that the Broadband Commission has included in all its reports has apparently not impressed enough the global leaders.

We cannot expect another opportunity to establish the development of ICT policies as a clear global objective until 2030. Besides the new targets regarding the extension on supply and take-up of ICT that we can expect the Broadband Commission will establish, the main target should be establishing digital policies as a frontline priority. In spite of all the big words, this target is still far to be achieved.

lunes, 21 de septiembre de 2015

#OpenData #TTIP #Digital Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (21/9/2015)

Economic vitality 2.0 : Prosperity and public engagement in a data-driven world

A report published by IBM about the data-driven economy. The focus is on how the public sectore can help to build vibrant ecosystem to boost the data economy and its other possible contributions as the massive publishing of open data

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: Challenges and Opportunities for Consumer Protection

This paper examines options for regulatory cooperation in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and assesses the challenges and opportunities posed by regulatory cooperation for consumer protection. It includes as an specific case sutudy the consumer protection issues related with ICT products and services.

Guiding digital transformation

A study published by Accenture on the factors that help to the digital transformation of the countries and the economic opportunities that come from it. It also includes the digital density index that evaluates the readiness of some leading economies to take advantage of the digital opportunity.

miércoles, 16 de septiembre de 2015

#Copyright #Cloud #SmartLiving Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (16/9/2015)

Remuneration of authors and performers for the use of their works and the fixations of their performances

A new EU study looks at the level of remuneration paid to authors and performers in the music and audio-visual sectors in ten EU countries (France, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Poland, Italy, Hungary, the Netherlands, Denmark and Lithuania). The Commission is looking for evidence whether, and to what extent, the differences that exist among the Member States affect levels of remuneration and the functioning of the internal market.

Software & Services, Cloud Computing H2020 Project Portfolio

The first Work Programme of Horizon 2020 invited proposals for Research and Innovation projects in the areas of cloud computing and software technologies. The selected projects represent a critical mass of research and innovation activities to keep Europe at the forefront of the developments in cloud computing and software technologies.

Workshop on Age-Friendly Homes and Smart Living

As identified in the Silver Economy Strategy, the creation of age-friendly housing can support the growing ageing population in staying active, independent and out of institutional care settings. This will lead to reduced costs for care delivery systems and better quality of life for vulnerable categories of citizens (elderly citizens and their carers or families). The overall objective of the workshop was to mobilise support from public authorities and stakeholders on a set of complementary actions that can be pursued at EU, national and regional level, by public authorities and stakeholders (industry, R&I, investment community) and that can lead to an increase in the number of age-friendly homes in Europe.

lunes, 14 de septiembre de 2015

The EU #telecom reform : the cornerstone for the #DigitalSingleMarket

The European Commission has included the review of telecom market legal framework as an action to start in 2015,  both in its REFIT programme and in the strategy for the completion of the Digital Single Market in Europe. Although Europe enjoys one of the the most competitive telecom market in the world, it is lagging behind in 4G deployment and it doesn't exist any real pan-european telecom operator ready to take advantage of the opportunities of the world biggest free trade area. Only these two pieces of information justified a reform of the EU telecom market.

It is not the first attempt of the European Commission in the last years to completely overhaul the 2009 telecom package. The former telco Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, proposed in September 2013 the "Connected Continent" package. This proposal included measures for the harmonisation of the wholesale access products, strengthening the coordination of spectrum policies, the review of the institutional regulatory framework, the creation of a unified authorisation process for telecom operators, an agreement of a common interpretation for net neutrality in Europe and the end of roaming charges. For different reasons, both the Parliament and the Council rejected some of the measures. In the end, only the last two measures have survived the legislative process that is expected to finish by the end of 2015 after the agreement reached between the European institutions in June in the three-way negotiations.

Although there is not a firm proposal for the new regulation yet, the communication "A Digital Single Market strategy for Europe" hinted some of the areas that would be tackled in it. The European Commission set as the general aims for the review "making telecoms rules fit for purpose"  and develop the "right regulatory conditions for investment, fair competition and a level playing field". In order to achieve these goals the European Commission has the intention to propose measures focusing on achieving more coordination on spectrum policies, tackling with the regulatory fragmentation, ensuring a level playing field between some telco services and their equivalent OTT applications, reviewing of the universal service definition and setting up a new architecture for the regulatory institutional framework. In a recent blog post, the DG responsible for the review, Roberto Viola, has hinted other possible complementary measures as establishing more ambitious targets for connectivity in Europe and addressing the extension of high-speed broadband to rural areas through investment incentives.

There is a clear overlap among the measures that were included in the "Connected Continent" package and those that would be included in the forthcoming regulatory proposal of the new commissioner, Gunther Oettinger. After the rejection from the Council of a more centralised spectrum policy and the opposition to the institutional regulatory reform from both the Council and the Parliament, the Commission will need to innovate in its proposals. As Einstein said, it would be difficult to achieve a different result doing the same things, and the risk would be facing another fruitless debate for a couple of years. Furthermore, the EC should start by exploring critically its own thoughts before publishing the new proposal. For instance, although the EC mainly blames the lack of coordination in spectrum policies for the delay in the deployment of 4G, the larger period of economic crisis in Europe in comparison with US or Asia has had a certain and equal impact on the lack of the needed telco investments to deploy the 4G networks. Regarding the institutional framework, beyond an stable chairpersonship for BEREC, we may need a complete review of the definition, status and role of the independent national regulators after the liberalisation of the telco sector has finished in Europe many years ago.

Some experts missed tackling other areas besides the known intentions for the reform. There are voices claiming to solve first the contradictory approach of the EC to the consolidation of the telco market in Europe. On one hand, they say that the DG responsible for the telco regulation claims the need for market consolidation to guarantee the long-term sustainability of EU operators. On the other hand, they state that the DG responsible for competence has short-term consumer protection as one of its priorities and usually demands strict remedies for the merger that disincentivizes pan-european M&A. The experts claim both interests are conflicting and the dilemma should be solved within the EC before proposing any new regulation, that "the commission’s competition policy has hindered the EU’s goals of bolstering the tech sector and establishing better digital interconnections across Europe". What it is the same, they alert that EU would risk having a potential conflict between the goals of the future ex-ante and ex-post regulatory tools.

Finally, it should not be forgotten that the telecom services are included among the services which market access conditions are under negotiation within the TTIP. The EC have made public at last its proposal for this negotiation. The text published is not far away the EU acquis, but at the same time it is highlighted that there is already a first draft of the consolidated version not published. The coincidence of the TTIP negotiation and the development of the new EU telco regulatory framework will demand an extra effort of regulatory coherence from the EU institutions.

The reform of the EU telecom market is the cornerstone of the Digital Single Market Strategy. Innovative proposals are needed that, at the same time, protect the consumer and promote investment by all the actors of the digital value chain. The strong competition in the European telecom market should be complemented with the right competition tools that allow the growth of the EU telecom operators within Europe and in the global digital market that will be reinforced with the free trade agreements under negotiation.

How to reach the above ambitious combination of goals? The European Commission has opened a public consultation on the matter that will be open until December 7th. It is the time to contribute to this key project for the future of the digital Europe.

viernes, 11 de septiembre de 2015

"The bookshop", Penelope Fitzgerald

The BookshopThe Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Any bookworm has desired at one moment of its life to run a bookshop. At least, that has been my personal history. The appeal to have all the books at your disposal and all the time you would need to read them, it is an image that has lured me as my most yearned lifestyle many times. Perhaps, that is the reason why I decided to read "The bookshop", written by Penelope Fitzgerald.

But "The bookshop" is more than the story of a woman who loves books and decided to share that passion with her passion with her hometown. The book is a parable about the unequal fight between any dreamer and the establishment of his environment. Florence Green chose to be a bookshop in a village without bookshops, she was living in the vanish hope that the village was waiting someone brave enough to set up a bookshop. Along the pages of the novel, we share with Florence the growing disappointment when she discovered her error. Furthermore, we shared her loneliness in the fight against the village establishment that bet for the failure of the bookshop since the begining. Change "bookshop" for any personal idealistic project, the story would be the same.

Florence is from the same tribe of Don Quixote. The end of the story couldn´t be different. But in this case, the end let us a shine of hope that our heroin would try it again.

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miércoles, 9 de septiembre de 2015

#GreenIT #TTIP #Competition Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (7/9/2015)

Methodologies for Measuring Environmental Efficiency Metrics for Data Centres

Smart City Cluster created by several EU Projects on Data Centres and public procurement released this report a couple of months ago. With a total of 60 partners, the cluster's aim is to develop new environmental efficiency metrics and methodologies, used to measure common variables, compare results and collectively support standards development.

Telecommunications and Internet Services: The digital side of the TTIP

In the overall negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the digital chapter appears to be growing in importance. This paper explores the current divergences between the two legal systems on these key issues and discusses possible scenarios for the ultimate agreement to be reached in the TTIP.

Antitrust, regulatory capture and economic integration

A policy contribution of the Bruegel think tank. The focus of the report are competion and antitrust rules in the EU and directions for an update of their interpretaion.

domingo, 6 de septiembre de 2015

Europe and the #surveillance technology: Time to act !!!

The Snowden Case has occupied million of pages of the legacy press and a growing amount of bytes in the Internet. The relationship between Europe and the United States has been poisoned since the day the former NSA agent revealed the details of the US mass surveillance program. However, since then similar programs established by EU countries have been revealed (UK, Germany, France) . I would not dare to say that we are living the 1984 nightmare described by Orwell, but it is true that technology has enabled our governments to know the more intimate secrets of their citizens. 

Although the seriousness of the government surveillance cases in the US and the EU should not be lessened, our democratic system provided us with tools to fight this activity and established limits to it. A recent example of the effectiveness of these tools was the decision of the US courts to limits FBI surveillance activities. The most worrisome issue is that not only democratic governments has access to the technology. The surveillance industry did not reach the $5 billion size in 2011 by selling only to the democratic governments. Obviously, private companies and rogue governments should be also among the surveillance tools buyers

According with the revelations done by The Guardian in 2013, companies from France, Germany and UK are among the main manufacturers of the surveillance industry. Therefore, there is a European responsibility on the correct usage of the surveillance technology. Firstly, through the transparent and balanced usage within the European countries. Secondly, establishing limits to the trade of surveillance technologies based on the respect to human rights. Thirdly, promoting the lawful usage of ICTs in third countries.

The European Parliament has taken the lead of Europe on the matter. On tuesday 8th september, the MEPs will vote a resolution on Human Rights and Technology. The resolution includes a set of recommendations to the European Union to reinforce the internal lawful usage of surveillance technology and considering the promotion digital dimension of human rights in its international relationships. As other recommendations of the European Parliament, it will not have inmediate legislative value. However, let us hope the European Commision will soon follow the Parliament recommendations with a bold set of legislative proposals. This is one of the occasions when the Union should prove its value beyond the mere economic interest that has been dominant in the last years.

miércoles, 2 de septiembre de 2015

#Fintech : The digital disruption arrives to the financial sector

One of the buzzwords of 2015 is "fintech". The term summarizes the digitalisation of the financial sector and a new look at the way that information technology can enable access to new sources of financing for citizens and businesses and a more efficient management their financial capital. In a simple manner, the wikipedia defines "fintech" as a line of business based on using software to provide financial services.

The services included in the fintech sector is a moving target, not a surprise of a nascent sector. Without any doubt, we can include in the fintech category the services that involve e-payments, cryptocurrencies or electronic trading. But also analytics based on financial data or alternative funding through electronic means are usually included in the fintech sector. The excitement about fintech is due to its expected growth, however it is difficult to estimate the total economic value that would have such an extended sector. Nevertheless, available figures are impressing. For instance, alternative funding market is expected to reach 7 € billion per-year size in EU in 2015 and card payments reached 2.2 € trillion in 2013. The interest in this so-called "Fintech" companies is shown by some facts:

As in every economic sector, the established players in the financial sector are introducing digital technologies in order to modernise its operation. However, the most innovative fintech solutions come from the vibrant start-up scenario where companies move on the borders of the regulation and without the burden of legacy processes and technology. Furthermore, the synergies among the old and the new players are flourishing and some European multinational banks are creating venture capital funds for fintech companies. The result has been the appearance of an important pack of EU fintech startups. Nevertheless, more should be done to create the right conditions in Europe for promoting the creation and development of EU fintech companies.

Since the begin of the current legislative period, the European Commission has highlighted the importance of the digital economy for recovering growth and employment in Europe. However, no mention to the digitalisation of the European Capital market is included in the Digital Single Market Strategy. It should be said that important actions for the development of trust in the fintech sector are close to be concluded, as the approval of the EU data protection reform or the end of the negotiations of the new cybersecurity directive, but further actions are needed. The EU free data flow initiative that aims to ensure the free movement of data in the DSM could be an important driver in order to tear down the remaining barriers for  the development of the fintech sector.

No sector is immune to disruption in the digital era, even the more critical to the economy will need to adapt to new digital paradigm. In the 2008 recession the financial institutions were described as too big to fail. The disruption ahead maybe could solve us that problem also  the big players could explode in a galaxy of a 2nd generation of small tech financial companies with their own bank license. Or maybe not. Maybe the big players could grow even more absorbing the new players. The dices are on the table on the financial sector.

palyginti kainas