Dhana Doobay looks back at the year in tech

3 January 2023

Following another year of bumper tech innovation and investment,  here are some of the positives and the negatives our TMT group experienced in 2022.

  • Cloud computing saw a year of ups and downs – the UK regulatory focus on the hyperscalers is rightly driven by their dominant market share and the huge demand for cloudification by businesses of all kinds and sizes undergoing digital transformation/digitisation, as cloud continues to take hold of industry, including through the gamechanger network solution EaaS (Everything as a Service).
  • Maturing AI technology is being integrated with cloud to breaking down barriers to innovation and transformation of industries and businesses. But is the focus on discriminatory algorithms entirely warranted? Will it drive down confidence in AI? AI is complex, and this is the reason that regulators continue to demand transparency and fairness to avoid misuse, but regulators must be wary of stifling innovation in what are still nascent tech markets.
  • The Big Tech response in managing their potentially anti-competitive practices has been disappointing, resulting in European and UK ex ante legislation to try and control these platforms – is this a backwards step for a competitive tech market? Not if the effect is to prevent bottlenecks in the tech supply chain of consumer and business services, but regulatory initiatives do need to be cooperative and collaborative with industry to have maximum effect in a constantly evolving technology landscape.
  • The £10bn UK Space market post-Brexit is the fastest growing sector of the UK economy, as the Cornish and other regional spaceports grow in viability and popularity, driving a new UK SpaceTech market focused on the downstream technology systems and services.
  • The rise of robotics continues to be seen in smart manufacturing, and the growing numbers of retail and leisure industry robots, driving increased funding options for both early and later stage development. Automation is a trend which is growing in popularity, particularly in the current climate of driving supply chain cost-efficiencies.
  • The metaverse has been established as the online future, in all its 3D glory – but as exciting as this is, privacy and IP infringement concerns have started to take hold and need to be kept under control in what could otherwise become a “no man’s land”.
  • Cryptocurrency exchanges falling off a cliff shows the importance of keeping fringe technology trends under national policy oversight as they start to become mainstream. State-sponsored digital coins may seem a more secure bet as these start to gather momentum, but let’s not forget the recent disastrous impact on the UK economy as a result of poorly executed economic policy.
  • Cybersecurity solutions are now a must-have in any business’s IT toolkit to combat the rise of increasingly complex and sophisticated cybercrimes. Coupled with legislative oversight to protect national security interests, this ought to provide a strong backdrop for the online world, but as we all know, technology evolves and so do the cyber-criminals…
  • Privacy and datafication – where do the two meet comfortably in the technology world of the future? Social media platforms have come under the spotlight consistently, particularly for their data mining and privacy breaches in connection with young people and insufficiently proactive/reactive takedown policies. This apparent inability to protect the vulnerable from extreme trolling and self-harm points up the clear and immediate need for more adequate safeguards to be in place and monitored appropriately given the 24/7 nature of social media communications. But whilst there is a clear case for more effective implementation of processes already in place, safeguards need also to be properly considered future-proofed strategies, and not knee-jerk reactions that platforms are going to be on the back foot implementing given consumer demand for UGC their way.
  • And lastly, let’s not forget the continued global social impact of tech – aptly illustrated this year by the European telcos and Musk in supporting Ukraine to stay connected and keep in touch with the world. The Technology ecosystem continues to innovate and invest in a huge range of sustainability and social initiatives – from community fibre projects connecting hard-to-reach areas, to Agritech initiatives to feed developing nations, advances in EdTech and MedTech… invention without boundaries, provided that policymakers and investors continue to support the techpreneurs, start-up and scale-up community underpinning this ecosystem.
Dhana Doobay
Partner – Telecoms, Media & Technology
Dhana Doobay is a Partner at Spencer West. She specialises in Telecoms, Media & Technology, Cloud and digital services, Network-sharing and infrastructure projects, International “best practice” regulatory strategy, Mobile ecosystems and Strategic partnerships