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Bets being placed on B2B metaverse leaders

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As metaverse-related B2B use cases start emerging, companies such as Meta and Microsoft are trending across signals, including news, job postings, filing mentions, patents, and influencer discussions.

In it’s latest research GlobalData cites Mercedes-Benz and BAE Systems recently collaborating with Microsoft for virtual manufacturing and simulation. Both companies aim to drive supply chain efficiencies and generate virtual twins for their manufacturing processes.

Rinaldo Pereira, Business Fundamentals Analyst at GlobalData, said: “An analysis of GlobalData’s Company Analytics database reveals that companies are actively exploring practical applications for the metaverse within a B2B context, beyond its current conceptualization. The metaverse has the potential to revolutionize industrial manufacturing, and virtual prototyping can help save time and resources, and reduce the need for expensive physical prototypes.”

The metaverse can be used to create virtual showrooms like FIAT’s metaverse store allowing customers to interact with vehicles in a realistic, immersive environment. This use case helps improve customer experience.

Pereira added: “An example of virtual showrooms was FIAT teaming up with Microsoft and Touchcast for the FIAT metaverse store at CES 2023. The metaverse dominated conversations around #CES2023 on social media, stealing the spotlight and generating buzz.”

GlobalData expects a metaverse’ winter in 2023, however its potential will likely not dampen. Metaverse and virtual reality were the key topics and witnessed a staggering 800% month-on-month growth during 05 December 2022 – 04 January 2023 over the previous month among the Twitter influencer conversations about “#CES2023”.

Meta is also forging ahead with strategic partnerships. For example, the collaboration between Intel and Meta is set to bring low-latency wireless VR gaming. Meta had also announced partnerships with Accenture and Microsoft earlier in 2022.

Pereira concluded: “While still at conceptual stage, the metaverse can allow companies to create immersive, interactive training simulations to improve employee productivity. Virtual factories or digital twins can also help in remote team collaborations across different geographies. As Twitter was abuzz with #CES2023, it is evident that the Metaverse continues to capture the attention of influencers.”

Enterprise ICT revenue in China to hit $179bn by 2026

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The enterprise ICT revenue opportunity in China is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.5% between 2021 and 2026.

The ongoing government initiatives prioritizing industrial digitalization and acceleration of digital transformation activities across large enterprises and SMEs provide a promising ground for the ICT market growth in the country, forecasts GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

GlobalData’s research on “China enterprise ICT market” reveals that the digitalization of national governance systems and government capabilities along with the expansion of 5G infrastructure and extensive use of digital applications such as e-commerce and digital payments will drive the demand for ICT services and products in the country over the forecast period.

Pragyan Tarasia, Technology Analyst at GlobalData, said: “While the country’s economy is largely concentrated around manufacturing, the government’s push to create a diverse digital economy as one of the key objectives under its 14th five-year plan (2021-2025) and Vision 2035 is significantly driving the demand for various ICT products and services in China.”

IT software segment to be the fastest growing enterprise ICT market

GlobalData forecasts IT software to be the fastest growing enterprise ICT segment at 10% CAGR and reach $171.9 billion in 2026.

Tarasia continued: “Increasing adoption of process automation and application-based service delivery model among enterprises in China to support digitalization as it transitions from manufacturing to service-based economy will drive the revenue prospects for the software segment.

“Furthermore, Chinese tech giants such as Huawei, ZTE, Xiaomi, and Haier that are specialized in hardware or telecommunication equipment also have a strong presence in the software segment. The presence of other key domestic IT players such as Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu has also significantly increased the innovation capability of China’s IT software segment.”

Manufacturing the largest end-use vertical

GlobalData forecasts manufacturing sector to account for 14.2% share in the overall cumulative ICT market revenue in China over the forecast period. ICT revenue from the manufacturing sector is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 8.3% to reach $104.5 billion in 2026.

Tarasia added: “The use of Industry 4.0 concepts is a linchpin in making the manufacturing sector a key market for ICT. While China boasts companies like Xiaomi in smart hardware and Beijing Automotive Group in automotive, it also hosts factories and production units for several international industrial conglomerates. The five-year plan for smart manufacturing to support large manufacturers achieve digitalization by 2025 will boost intelligent manufacturing in the country.

“Recent sanctions from developed nations may stifle China’s future industry growth by some extent. For instance, the US Commerce Department has prohibited supplying high-tech equipment to chipmakers in China. This type of sanctions will have a negative impact on China’s growth rate in chip technology.”

Power utilities ‘prioritising cybersecurity’ as threats grow

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Power utilities have become more prone to cyberattacks amid the COVID-19 pandemic as attackers have strived to benefit from the rush to remote systems and undermanned facilities.

Utilities need to comprehend the new cyber risks involved with home-based work such as social engineering attacks and less reliable internet connections in order to accordingly set up baseline defences and limit the consequences of cyberattacks, says industry analyst GlobalData.

The firm’s latest report, ‘Thematic Research: Cybersecurity in Power’, reveals that utilities’ investment in cybersecurity – split across technology, services, and internal skills development – will only accelerate as they attempt to address challenges brought about by cyberattacks.

Sneha Susan Elias, Senior Power Analyst at GlobalData, said: “Utilities’ existing systems are becoming increasingly connected through sensors and networks, and, due to their dispersed nature, are even more difficult to control. This potentially provides an opportunity for attackers to target the grid – similar to the attack in Ukraine in December 2015 where hackers attacked three power distribution companies in the country, temporarily disrupting the electricity supply.

“As utility infrastructures become more interconnected, smart and decentralized, a centralized approach to secure them is difficult, and will become increasingly untenable. Central monitoring and oversight is essential but not sufficient, as a central system cannot react quickly enough to threats – especially as control becomes fragmented across numerous systems such as microgrids. As a result, there will be a rising burden on edge elements and local systems to be resilient to cyberattacks, while also having the flexibility to support the resilience of the wider energy system in the case of a cyberattack on the electricity grid.”

Power grids are the main target point for hackers and cyberattacks. Electricity grids depend on industrial control systems (ICS) to provide essential services. If these systems are at risk of a cyberattack, that can pave the way for serious, catastrophic events. However, the growth in cyberwarfare and the rapid proliferation of smart and connected grid components means that investment in cybersecurity will remain a top priority for utility IT departments. As a grid becomes smarter, it also becomes more vulnerable to attack, which can compromise critical infrastructure systems and disclose private user information. 

Elias added: “Utilities need to develop a unified method for security that incorporates both physical and digital security, as well as covers the complete organization. Utilities should adopt cybersecurity measures that can correlate threats across transmission system operator (TSO) systems, industrial control systems (ICS) and operational technology (OT) systems. This is where the role of artificial intelligence (AI) and behavioral analytics, along with ubiquitous Internet of Things (IoT) data comes into play, providing support for the emergence of such solutions.”

An ongoing area of development will be AI analysis of behavioral biometric data. Sophisticated machine learning algorithms can build up a profile of a user’s typical behavior, identify unusual patterns of activity, and highlight potential threats in real-time before they have a chance to materialize. By automatically detecting suspicious data, the whole security process becomes more efficient, preventing the need for a painstaking manual review of log data. IoT, if it moves beyond point applications to encompass analytics and a holistic view of utilities’ infrastructure, could enhance aspects of security by helping manage infrastructure more effectively and monitor unusual patterns. 

Elias added: “The integration of AI with IoT will aid power utilities and security personnel in decreasing false alerts obtained from these systems, and lead to enhanced efficiency of the security teams.”