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5 technologies and ideas featured at Collision to explore further

The biggest question? Will there be widespread adoption.

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After two years of virtual conferences, Collision returned to Toronto, where more than 35,000 attendees took in sessions with industry leaders, listened to startup pitches, and, of course, networked as much as possible.

Was almost every technology under the sun featured in some way at Collision? Yes. Were there still some ideas that seemed to pop up a little more frequently than others? Also yes. 

The primary idea surrounding most of these technologies was adoption. They might be heavily theorized or even actively used by a small minority, but the issue of widespread adoption is still up for debate.

Here are 5 technologies and ideas featured at Collision 2022 that you need to know and explore further, as they continue to dominate the digital transformation conversation this year (and beyond).

Web3

With cryptocurrency taking a nosedive and the metaverse becoming an increasingly buzzed-about concept (more on this below), many people are looking at web3 with either confusion or skepticism.

For starters, web3 is essentially the third generation of the internet. While the first iteration was mainly just static pages the audience consumed, the second generation of the internet was where large conglomerates took over — e.g. Facebook and Google. These companies control your data. Web3, however, is based on a principle of decentralization and blockchain technology. (Here’s a really good explainer!)

That said, web3 is still a work in progress. Much like cryptocurrency and the metaverse, it has plenty of critics who aren’t yet ready to fully dive in, and are simply tip-toeing around and learning more.

Blockchain (and Cryptocurrency)

Yes, cryptocurrency hasn’t had the best 2022, but there are still lots of believers in digital currency. And while blockchain has a wide variety of applications, its most-cited use is with cryptocurrencies, where transaction records are maintained.

If you’re looking for an explanation of blockchain, Deloitte challenged itself to explain the original intent of the blockchain in fewer than 100 words:

You (a “node”) have a file of transactions on your computer (a “ledger”). Two government accountants (let’s call them “miners”) have the same file on theirs (so it’s “distributed”). As you make a transaction, your computer sends an e-mail to each accountant to inform them.

Each accountant rushes to be the first to check whether you can afford it (and be paid their salary “Bitcoins”). The first to check and validate hits “REPLY ALL”, attaching their logic for verifying the transaction (“proof of work”). If the other accountant agrees, everyone updates their file…

This concept is enabled by “Blockchain” technology.

Aside from its use in cryptocurrency, blockchain can be applied to a wide variety of multi-step transactions. For example, managing a supply chain, contracts, and even your data. 

Metaverse

You’ve likely come across the idea of the ‘metaverse’ in the last 6 months or so — especially after Facebook announced its rebrand to ‘Meta.’ In doing so, the company emphasized its new focus on the metaverse, a catch-all term for virtual worlds, VR, and AR, as this Verge article explains.

The primary interest in the metaverse lies in the retail, gaming, and entertainment sectors. Some examples of activities include shopping at virtual malls, buying digital art (ie. NFTs), buying digital land, and taking part in immersive learning. Many proponents of the metaverse see the future of the infrastructure as being a world that closely mimics the real one — though plenty of questions and myths remain. For example, security, privacy, and even the actual comfort and cost of the necessary headsets.

AI

Artificial intelligence has been a DX buzzword for a number of years now, but it’s still playing a key role.

On June 22, Canada’s Minister of Science, Innovation, and Industry François-Philippe Champagne announced the launch of the second phase of the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy — thanks to an investment of more than $443 million committed in Budget 2021.

This phase will, according to the press release, “seek to bridge world–class talent and cutting-edge research capacity with commercialization and adoption to ensure that Canadian ideas and knowledge are mobilized here at home.”

Ultimately, the goal is responsible adoption and commercialization of AI across Canada’s economy, while enhancing the country’s research and talent pool. As this piece from Policy Options explains, “Much of the untapped potential of AI lies not only in the development and scaling of AI startups but also in its adoption beyond the tech sector.” They go on to explain that AI, being a “general-purpose” technology, has potential across all economic sectors — and can be a factor in building back the economy post-pandemic.

Quantum Computing

Quantum computing is actually one of those ideas that can be difficult to explain and/or wrap your mind around, but it is moving quickly toward commercial viability

In the eyes of those hyping it up, it’s going to tackle global warming, revolutionize pharmaceutical drug development, and be a gamechanger for the chemicals industry.

Simply put, as TED Fellow Shohini Ghose explains in the following video, “a quantum computer is not just a more powerful version of our current computers, just like a lightbulb is not a more powerful candle.” In fact, it’s something else entirely, based on deeper scientific understanding and quantum physics.

While quantum computing is still in its experimental/developmental phase, it’s definitely an emerging science to keep an eye on.

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Collision returns to Toronto with more than 35,000 planned attendees

Nicknamed ‘The Olympics of Tech,” Collision 2022 is back live after two years.

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It’s been called “The Olympics of Tech.”

More than 35,000 attendees, 1,250+ startups, and 800+ investors are converging on Toronto for a now-sold-out Collision 2022 — back live for the first time in two years. 

North America’s fastest-growing tech conference takes place June 20-23 at Toronto’s Enercare Centre. It is part of a series of technology conferences that include Web Summit in Europe and RISE in Hong Kong.

Welcoming attendees back after the 2020 and 2021 virtual editions of the conference, Paddy Cosgrave, founder and CEO of Collision & Web Summit said, “I just can’t tell you how excited I am to be back,” before introducing Toronto mayor John Tory.

“The numbers of people that come to this conference demonstrate the eagerness that everyone has to be together after a long pandemic,” said Tory. “It speaks to the impact of Collision itself, that so many people are here.”

“You come because you think it matters,” he continued. “And we have to make it matter. We have to make it make a difference — not just with respect to technology.”

Tory then outlined why Collision is right at home in the city of Toronto: “This is one of the fast-growing tech conferences in the world, for a reason, and there is a reason that Toronto is hosting it.”

“If you’ll forgive me a moment of truthful immodesty, we have cemented ourselves as a global hub for technology and innovation,” said Tory, before welcoming attendees to explore the city and see what it can do for their businesses. 

“You can be part of this Toronto success story.”

Collision kick-off

Led by co-hosts Sunil Sharma (Managing Director of Techstars Toronto) and Casey Lau, opening night featured an impressive lineup of speakers from a range of sectors. Guests included:

To warm up the audience, however, a series of breakout startups presented their pitches, as a preview of what’s in store for attendees this week. Eight startups, three of which are Indigenous-owned (see asterisks), came to the stage. Startups featured were:

Collision and the state of the world

Collision is coming back at an interesting, particularly volatile time for the global economy and tech market. Inflation has skyrocketed, and the costs for everything from basic groceries to buying a car or home has led to a tremendous feeling of uncertainty. 

For starters, recent weeks have seen the cryptocurrency market crumble, with even long-term investors starting to think of exiting the space. CNBC recently reported that the price of bitcoin fell more than 9% in 24 hours to $18,642.22, as of about 2 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 18. 

Venture Capitalists have been pouring money into startups throughout the pandemic, at what we can now call an unsustainable level. The result? Overvaluation — a big risk to employees, as one CEO wrote for Forbes.

Ultimately, there is an air of optimism coming from Collision, where an enthusiastic and packed crowd were eager to kick off the event. 

Agenda

Attendees will be able to choose from an absolutely massive selection of sessions, across several tracks and curated lists of sessions.

With the aforementioned crypto crash at the top of many minds, the crypto track, featuring sessions like Mass Adoption: Crypto’s next challenge and How to regulate cryptocurrencies, is sure to be popular. 

Those interested in startups can look forward to sessions like How Calgary is winning the global talent competition, How to recession-proof your startup, and 3 big mistakes founders make when building early-stage tech teams, among others.

Want to follow along with all the action from outside the sold-out event? Follow Collision on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube. Look for the official hashtag, #CollisionConf.

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The importance of data access for digital initiatives

A new report from MuleSoft found that just 37% of organizations have the skills and technology to keep up with digital projects.

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In a global survey of over 1,700 line of business employees in organizations with at least 250 employees, MuleSoft found that just 37% of organizations have the skills and technology to keep up with digital projects.

The resulting report — The State of Business and IT Innovation — reveals four key ideas that IT leaders need to know in order to drive digital innovation forward.

These four key findings are:

  • Collaboration is key 
    • 68% of respondents believe IT and LoB users should jointly drive digital innovation.
  • Keep up the pace 
    • 51% expressed frustration with the speed at which IT can deliver projects.
  • Integration challenge
    • 37% cite security and compliance as the biggest challenge to delivering new digital services, followed by integration (i.e. connecting systems, data, and apps) at 37%.
  • Data access
    • 80% say that in order to deliver on project goals faster, employees need easy access to data and IT capabilities.  

“This research shows data is one of the most critical assets that businesses need to move fast and thrive into the future,” said MuleSoft CEO Brent Hayward

“Organizations need to empower every employee to unlock and integrate data — no matter where it resides — to deliver critical, time-sensitive projects and innovation at scale, while making products and services more connected than ever.”

Want to read through the whole report? Download it from MuleSoft

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Where is the financial value in AI? Employing multiple human-machine learning approaches, say experts

According to a new study, only 10% of organizations are achieving significant financial benefits with AI.

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AI is everywhere these days — especially as we work to fight the spread of COVID-19

Even in the “before times,” AI was a hot topic that always found itself in the center of most digital transformation conversations. A new study from MIT Sloan Management Review, BCG GAMMA, and BCG Henderson Institute, however, prompts a crucial question:

Are You Making the Most of Your Relationship with AI?

Finding value

Despite the proliferation of the technology and increased investment, according to the report, just 10% of organizations are achieving significant financial benefits with AI. The secret ingredient in these success stories? “Multiple types of interaction and feedback between humans and AI,” which translated into a six-times better chance of amplifying the organization’s success with AI.

“The single most critical driver of value from AI is not algorithms, nor technology — it is the human in the equation,” affirms report co-author Shervin Khodabandeh.

 

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From a survey of over 3,000 managers from 29 industries based in 112 countries — plus in-depth interviews with experts — the report outlined three investments organizations can make to maximize value:

  • The likelihood of achieving benefits increases by 19% with investment in AI infrastructure, talent, and strategy.
  • Scalability. When organizations think beyond automation as a use case, the likelihood of financial benefit increases by 18%.
  • “Achieving organizational learning with AI (drawing on multiple interaction modes between humans and machines) and building feedback loops between human and AI increases that likelihood by another 34%.”

According to report co-author Sam Ransbotham, at the core of successfully creating value from AI is continuous learning between human and machine:

“Isolated AI applications can be powerful. But we find that organizations leading with AI haven’t changed processes to use AI. Instead, they’ve learned with AI how to change processes. The key isn’t teaching the machines. Or even learning from the machines. The key is learning with the machines — systematically and continuously.” 

Continued growth

While just 1 in 10 organizations finds financial benefits with AI, 70% of respondents understand how it can generate value — up from 57% in 2017.

Additionally, 59% of respondents have an AI strategy, compared to 39% in 2017, the survey found. Finally, 57% of respondents say their organizations are “piloting or deploying” AI — not a huge increase from 2017 (46%). 

One of the biggest takeaways? According to co-author David Kiron, “companies need to calibrate their investments in technology, people, and learning processes.”

“Financial investments in technology and people are important, but investing social capital in learning is critical to creating significant value with AI.”

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