How IT spending in EMEA will reach $1 trillion by 2018

IT investment within the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region is on track to further growth.  IT spending in EMEA is forecast to reach $1 trillion in 2018 - an increase of 4.9 percent from 2017, according to the latest market study by by Gartner.

In 2017, however, all categories of traditional IT spending in EMEA under-performed the global averages. According to the Gartner assessment, currency effects played a significant part in the weakness during 2017, and will also contribute to the forecast shortfall in 2018.

EMEA IT sector market development

"The UK has EMEA’s largest IT market and its decline of 3.1 percent in 2017 impacts the forecast heavily," said John-David Lovelock, research vice president at Gartner. "Weak Sterling and political uncertainty since Brexit are reducing UK IT spending in 2017, while other major IT markets in EMEA grew steadily."

Another significant currency effect is the rapid appreciation of the Euro against the U.S. Dollar -- it provides an incentive for Eurozone countries to defer IT spending to 2018 where possible, in anticipation of even lower prices in U.S. Dollars.

However, there is more to the recovery in 2018 than just currency effects. Strong demand within the enterprise software and IT services categories across EMEA hint at significant shifts in IT spending patterns.

The Gartner forecast highlights that businesses are broadly reducing spending on owning IT hardware, and increasing spending on consuming IT as-a-service (ITaaS). In the total IT forecast the business trends are masked somewhat by consumer spending, but when we look at enterprise-only spending the new dynamics between the categories are much clearer.

EMEA enterprise IT spending in 2017 was weaker than the overall IT spending forecast, declining 1.4 percent. The only category predicted to show enterprise spending growth in 2017 is the enterprise software market at 3.2 percent.

"In 2017, we're seeing a pause in EMEA enterprise spending due to the switch to as-a-service offerings gaining momentum," said Mr. Lovelock. "Among the spending rebounds in 2018, however, we expect lagging markets."

In 2018, total enterprise spending in EMEA will likely grow by 2.8 percent. All categories of enterprise IT spending will return to growth in 2018, but only IT services and software will grow strongly at 4 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively. Enterprise spending on devices and communications services continue to fall behind in 2018, growing at 2 percent or lower, thus failing to recoup the losses of 2017.

Outlook for EMEA IT spending growth

Gartner’s recent public cloud forecast further underlines this change in spending as businesses increasingly adopt cloud models for efficiency and agility. In doing so, they also shift their IT spending toward operational expenditure (opex) service-based models.

Gartner believes that the move to cloud services and opex spending on IT should serve to stabilize the growth in overall IT spending in EMEA in 2018 and beyond. They expect spending will spread out more evenly with fewer spikes of capital investment on hardware.

In both enterprise and overall IT spending forecasts, worldwide and in EMEA, Gartner now forecasts IT spending from 2019 through 2021 will remain close to a 3 percent growth rate each year.

Net Neutrality: Fraudulent identities used “to corrupt the FCC’s notice and comment process”

A letter signed by the New York State Attorney General has accused the FCC of refusing to cooperate with an investigation into the fraudulent use of Americans’ identities to corrupt the public comment process with regards to altering net neutrality rules.

Eric T. Schneiderman claims his office has been investigating, for the past six months, who perpetrated a large scheme where ‘enormous numbers’ of identities were fraudulently used to drown out the views and concerns of citizens and businesses.

Researchers and reporters discovered enormous numbers of fake comments

Schneiderman notes this conduct likely violates state law, and yet “the FCC has refused multiple requests for crucial evidence in its sole possession that is vital to permit that law enforcement investigation to proceed.”

The notice and comment process is allowis citizens and businesses to share their valuable opinions. With how far-reaching and impacting net neutrality rules are, there’s certainly an abundance of opinions to be voiced.

“For my part, I have long publicly advocated for strong net neutrality rules under the Title II of the Communications Act,” wrote Schneiderman in the letter. “Studies show that the overwhelming majority of Americans who took the time to write public comments to the FCC about the issue feel the same way while a very small minority favor repeal.

While stopping short of directly accusing the FCC of foul play, it’s clear Schneiderman is questioning the reluctance of the regulator to aid his office’s investigation. The FCC has a duty to protect consumers so it should be in their interests to find out who is corrupting their processes.

Government agencies should want to help in these endeavors and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.

The discovery was made back in May when researchers and reporters discovered enormous numbers of fake comments concerning the possible repeal of net neutrality rules were being posted. Furthermore, many used real names and addresses — which Schneiderman notes is akin to identity theft.

“In June 2017, we contacted the FCC to request certain records related to its public comment system that were necessary to investigate which bad actor or actors were behind the misconduct,” wrote Schneiderman. “We made our request for logs and other records at least 9 times over 5 months: in June, July, August, September, October (three times), and November.”

Schneiderman and his team reached out to multiple FCC officials — including three successive acting FCC General Counsels, and the FCC’s Inspector General — and offered to keep the records confidential.

Many, including Telecoms, noted the FCC decided to announce its decision to repeal the net neutrality rules just before Thanksgiving when many journalists are out the office. Using the run up to public holidays for controversial announcements is a tactic often used by lawmakers to help slip controversial legislation under the radar.

Law enforcement should be free to investigate identity fraud wherever it occurs, but especially when it’s on this scale. Other government agencies should want to help in these endeavors and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.

Are you concerned by the FCC’s reluctance to assist the investigation? Let us know in the comments.

Smartphone thought to be biggest breakthrough in 25 years

New research from TSI has revealed the smartphone is the significant technology breakthrough of the last 25 years.

TSI asked people to share their views on what tech has made the biggest impact since the 1990s, with the smartphone collecting a strong 60% of the vote. Other contenders included the floppy disc and fax machine.

“Despite 35mm cameras and phones with aerials now being referred to as vintage, I can still remember my very first brick-like phone, not to mention the pager, and how innovative it was when first released,” said Steve Kyprianou, MD at TSI

“We’re now on release eight of the iPhone, and the rise of the ‘connected culture’ means we value wider connectivity, super-fast WiFi and instant access to information at our fingertips over work tools such as Microsoft Office and Windows XP.”

While we do not argue about the merits and impact of the smartphone, you have to put the term ‘technology breakthrough’ into perspective. The smartphone is a device of convenience, adding mobility to an euphoria which already existed, the internet.

When you look at the technological breakthroughs of the 20th century, some might argue the smartphone is not as significant. The combustion engine, for example, or ubiqtuous electricity, had profound and life-changing impacts on society. Has the smartphone made the same impact?

Think about it this way, we already had the internet before. The concept of the internet was earth-shattering, it reinvented the way we did business and the way in which we developed our social lives. The smartphone made the internet mobile. We are by no-means undermining the impact it has had on our lives, more offering a bit of perspective. The move to mobile is one of convenience, it a step in the progression of the internet, not anything which was new.

Perhaps we are just on the cusp of what the smart phone can offer. With mobile money trends just starting to grip the mass market and the PC continuing to play less relevance in our lives, the smartphone is becoming more and more critical. Fewer people can look down on those who are glued to the blue screen, as it is becoming a necessity. Perhaps the next significant step in the smartphone space will be when they figure out how to get passports onto the devices?

So maybe this is a question which should be asked to the community; is the smartphone the biggest breakthrough of the last 25 years, and how does it compare to the technological breakthroughs of the early 20th century?

Uber concealed data hack affecting 57 million users for a year

Hackers accessed a bunch of data on Uber drivers and customers in late 2016 but the company chose not to notify either regulators or those affected.

This is just the latest legacy bestowed on Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi by his predecessor and Uber founder Travis Kalanick. The company seems to be a magnet for controversy and recently had its license to operate in London revoked over public safety concerns. Khosrowshahi was brought in earlier this year to steady the ship, but skeletons keep emerging from the corporate closet.

“I recently learned that in late 2016 we became aware that two individuals outside the company had inappropriately accessed user data stored on a third-party cloud-based service that we use,” wrote Khosrowshahi in an announcement. “The incident did not breach our corporate systems or infrastructure. Our outside forensics experts have not seen any indication that trip location history, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers or dates of birth were downloaded.”

From the many reports on this it appears the hackers got hold of some login details for an AWS account and it was from there that they downloaded the data. They then used that data to blackmail Uber, in the manner that is becoming increasingly common in the cyber-crime world.

Data breaches have become so common in recent years that we might not have even bothered reporting on this one were it not for the way Uber handled it. Apparently it paid the hackers $100,000 to delete the data and keep quiet, and then made out like the payment was a ‘bug bounty’ that is commonly paid to by companies to hackers to test their security.

“At the time of the incident, we took immediate steps to secure the data and shut down further unauthorized access by the individuals,” wrote Khosrowshahi. “We subsequently identified the individuals and obtained assurances that the downloaded data had been destroyed. We also implemented security measures to restrict access to and strengthen controls on our cloud-based storage accounts.”

The dodgy part of all this is the extent to which it was hushed-up. Uber’s Chief Security Officer – Joe Sullivan – has already been shown the door for the part he played in it and it asks further questions of Kalanick, who remains on the company’s board. The New York Attorney General has already opened an investigation into the matter and given the company’s track record it can expect to be given little benefit of the doubt.

UK urged to improve data protection for the digitally naive

Several consumer groups have written to UK Minister for Digital Matt Hancock urging changes to data privacy and protection rules, removing grey areas which allow companies to navigate breaches unscathed.

Many rules and regulations should be viewed as dated today. This is not necessarily anyone’s fault, but is more a consequence of how quickly the digital society has engulfed the world. Governments are making the necessary changes, but technology moves faster than politicians. In a letter to Hancock, the consumer groups point towards the idea of collective redress in instances of mass data breaches and systemic insecurities in connected devices, as a means to move rules into the digital age.

“Under the current system individuals have the right to seek redress from organisations when their data has been lost or misused,” the letter reads.

“Whilst we wholly support the provisions in Article 80(1), which reflects the existing system, it is inadequate on its own in holding organisations to account. Further, given the potential scale of data breaches and the breach notification duty, a mechanism under Article 80(2) would save significant administrative and court time, in that it will avoid a myriad of individual claims.”

The letter, which has been signed by Which, the Open Rights Group, Age UK, the Financial Services Consumer Panel and Privacy International, effectively asks the government for permission to make complaints against organizations without prior instruction from consumers. This might sound unusual, but there is some logic here.

We had a brief chat with Jim Killock, the Open Rights Group Executive Director, who likened it to the world of competition complaints. Here, there are a select number of organizations, known as ‘Super-Complainants’, who can raise complaints to the Competition and Markets Authority on behalf of consumers, but not because of instruction from individuals.

In the digital world, this could be quite a useful change. Take for example a data breach, few consumers are aware as to whether their information is actually part of the breach, maybe due to anonymised data, or perhaps the breach was suitably long ago that they aren’t actually bothered. Data breach fatigue might be another reason consumers do not take action, but in every circumstance the offending company receives less flak.

Another example is with the very old or very young. The very old might not have the digital know-how or enthusiasm to realise or follow-up on these breaches, but does that mean the companies should be allowed to get away with inferior security? With the young, parents might not want to drag children through the legal process if the personal information of a 14 year-old was breached. Should companies be allowed to profit off non-action?

By creating a ‘Super-Complainant’ in the digital world, organizations like the Open Rights Group can take action against the offending organization, and create an environment of accountability. Currently a human face has to be attached to a complaint before it can be taken forward, but the letter urges for action against bad practice, not necessarily the harm of consumers.

Of course, there would have to be certain conditions for the ‘Super-Complainants’ to operate. For instance, only a small number of organizations would be given the accreditation. These would have to demonstrate they have the in-house resources to deal with such a mission, but also that they are able to act with care; flood the Information Commissioners Office with too many irrelevant cases and you could have the accreditation removed.

There would also be financial conditions. There should not be a financial reward for taking the sword to these companies, but it should be done as the action of a privacy and security advocate. This will rule out the cowboys and digital ambulance chasers of the world.

It certainly sounds like a logical idea, but whether the digital-inept politicians in charge of our digital economy actually do anything remains to be seen. We certainly won’t be holding our breath.

Europe bottles it over pan-European content plans

MEPs in the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee has approved a watered down version of its pan-European TV ambitions in what some might assume is a result of lobbyist pressure.

Back in May, Europe made some strides towards creating a pan-European TV market, attempting to reform the IP process which would allow OTT service subscribers to access their subscriptions when abroad. It was an unusually logical move from the usually illogical bureaucrats, but it appears it is nothing that special after all.

“The chance to create a European audience was missed,” said German MEP Tiemo Wölken. “Conservative forces put the interests of Big Players over the interests of millions of European citizens in an irrational, unbalanced way. Under the pretext of cultural diversity European Broadcasters are refrained from adapting to the digital age.”

Under the new rules broadcasters will be able to make online news and current affairs content for audiences in other EU countries. These programmes may include content protected by copyright which currently cannot be cleared in a short time-frame for each and every country.

It is a step forward, but certainly not as big of one which many in the industry were hoping for. In terms of any form of entertainment, movies or TV series for example, this content would be subject to the rules as they stand, with broadcasters having to clear in each territory. The power remains in the hands of the content-owners, and the rules remain in the analogue age.

As you can imagine, numerous explanations were offered as reason for the new rules falling short, IP law is immensely complicated and reforming any rules which take into account 28 member states would also be immensely complicated, but some might assume this is not the reason. Some might come to the conclusion rule-makers have had their ears bent in all sorts of directions by lobbyists, and they went the direction of the one which pulled the hardest. Of course, this is only assumption, and any evidence of the power of lobbyists is only rumour.

The parliamentary committee could not come to an agreement on the rules for all content, thus only news and current affairs will be opened up. Some other people might also argue that news and current affairs content is already available in other countries, therefore MEPs have done little but talk over the last couple of months.

Telecoms.com will naturally keep its opinions to itself to allow you to make up your own mind, but we will be in touch with our MEP to seek a recommendation for lunch tomorrow.

FCC Chairman Pai shows his net neutrality hand – let the hysteria begin

The US telecoms regulator has shared its plans to repeal ‘net neutrality’ regulations implemented by the previous regime ahead of a vote on 14 December.

By doing so FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is lighting the touch-paper on an explosion of partisan hysteria in the US, with the move either being a welcome restriction on the power of the state or sabotaging the internet, depending on who you speak to. Silicon Valley and much of the media in the US are against the move, which is given even more spice by the fact that the hand of polarising US President Trump is thought to be directly involved.

“For almost twenty years, the Internet thrived under the light-touch regulatory approach established by President Clinton and a Republican Congress,” said Pai. “This bipartisan framework led the private sector to invest $1.5 trillion building communications networks throughout the United States. And it gave us an Internet economy that became the envy of the world.

“But in 2015, the prior FCC bowed to pressure from President Obama. On a party-line vote, it imposed heavy-handed, utility-style regulations upon the Internet. That decision was a mistake. It’s depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks and deterred innovation.

“Today, I have shared with my colleagues a draft order that would abandon this failed approach and return to the longstanding consensus that served consumers well for decades. Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the Internet. Instead, the FCC would simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.

“Additionally, as a result of my proposal, the Federal Trade Commission will once again be able to police ISPs, protect consumers, and promote competition, just as it did before 2015. Notably, my proposal will put the federal government’s most experienced privacy cop, the FTC, back on the beat to protect consumers’ online privacy.

“Speaking of transparency, when the prior FCC adopted President Obama’s heavy-handed Internet regulations, it refused to let the American people see that plan until weeks after the FCC’s vote. This time, it’ll be different. Specifically, I will publicly release my proposal to restore Internet freedom tomorrow—more than three weeks before the Commission’s December 14 vote.

“Working with my colleagues, I look forward to returning to the light-touch, market-based framework that unleashed the digital revolution and benefited consumers here and around the world.”

Pai’s position seems to be that the internet does a perfectly good job of policing itself without the measures imposed in 2015. To ensure this remains the case he will insist CSPs reveal what they’re up to regarding service delivery levels. The dig about transparency is a cute one and is consistent with objections he was making as the time. Perhaps symbolically he has written an op-ed on the matter, but published it behind the WSJ paywall.

The Washington Post seemed to typify the dissenting position with a piece entitled The FCC has unveiled its plan to repeal its net neutrality rules and stating that it ‘would give Internet providers broad powers to determine what websites and online services their customers can see and use.’ Pretty much all of the tech press is positioning this as a move to ‘kill’ or ‘wipe out’ net neutrality, or even to ruin the internet.

Roslyn Layton, VP at Strand Consult, is a close follower of this matter and thinks the Washington Post is barking up the wrong tree. “Actually the move would give consumers control,” said Layton. “The FCC used its 2015 Open Internet Order as a form of rate regulation and price controls, making end users bear the full cost of broadband while the largest content providers enjoyed a free ride. Removing the rule will allow the emergence of flexible pricing, so that consumers have choice in how they enjoy content for free, whether for free, sponsored by providers, or paid outright.

“The largest content providers will no longer get government-guaranteed free ride on networks. This likely means that consumers will enjoy lower-priced, more tailored, and higher-value subscriptions. Just as Uber disrupted the collusion between regulators and the taxi industry, restoring Internet freedom puts consumers in charge of broadband, not regulators.”

Amid all this noise and growing hysteria it’s hard to know who, if anyone, is right. Pai’s move seems to be sympathetic to CSPs, and why shouldn’t they be allowed to do what they want with their networks. On the flip side, as we covered previously, for many the internet is viewed as a force for public good and thus should be elevated above grubby commercial interests.

As the vote in three weeks is likely to go in Pai’s favour we won’t have to wait long to find out. But having said that, as is usually the case the reality will fall somewhere in the middle of the extreme positions and the world will somehow keep spinning.

DT gives IoT some TLC, FYI

Deutsche Telekom and the Fraunhofer-Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML have teamed up to start up the Telekom Open IoT Labs – aren’t you glad they found a catchier name?

As part of the initiative, six scientists from Fraunhofer IML, and three from Deutsche Telekom will team up to develop and test IoT solutions and get them market ready. As with every telco worth its salt, the team is trying to justify the IoT myth, and this initiative is focused on manufacturing, logistics and aviation sectors. And bringing in scientists from an organization with a very long name sounds very official.

“The Labs pair two fields of competence that have to be involved, together, in any successful IoT-related digitization,” said Professor Dr. Michael ten Hompel, MD of Fraunhofer IML.

“Fraunhofer is providing comprehensive expertise in hardware and applications in IoT environments. And Deutsche Telekom is providing its network expertise, together with IoT and cloud solutions, all of which are key elements for IoT-based digitization.”

The plan is relatively simple. Firstly, talk to people who think they might like this IoT thing to define these applications. Secondly, they will develop and producing hardware, software and connectivity prototypes. Finally, the team will figure out how to make them economically viable.

Initially, the pair will plan to concentrate on solutions based on NB-IoT technology, as is the wider trend in the industry. As there seems to be an appetite for the technology in the logistics sector, and the technology is applicable here, it is one of the logical places to start. And you know those Germans, they are very logical.

NB-IoT has been a big focus for the team in recent months, having launched a German nation-wide network earlier this year, and rolling out to other European markets. Austria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia were touted back in February, though it is the Netherlands which has caught the attention of the Telekom Open IoT Labs.

“At Telekom Open IoT Labs, we will not be pursuing basic research. Instead, we will offer companies specific benefits by solving their problems using IoT solutions,” said Anette Bronder, Head of Digital- and Security Department of Deutsche Telekom.

“All the technologies necessary for IoT solutions are in place. Now, we need to find application areas that will offer companies real value, in both the short and long terms.”

Net neutrality is at threat again – and the FCC hopes your Thanksgiving turkey will distract you

US regulators are expected to reverse fairness rules, implemented during Obama’s era to protect net neutrality, while many journalists are out the office.

Net neutrality is the idea that all businesses and consumers should be treated by internet providers the same — to most people, that seems fair.

Some ISPs argue that some companies put greater demand on their networks than others; such as Netflix. Without net neutrality rules, ISPs could ask for more cash from a company like Netflix so their users can have fast access. If not, their users could be put on a ‘slow lane’ and suffer as a result.

Similarly, if an ISP owns or strikes a deal with certain internet services, it could slow down competitors to give it a competitive advantage. This could be anything from streaming videos, to just loading simple web pages. Google claims 53 percent of users will abandon loading a web page if it takes longer than three seconds to load; which means every second counts.

This “paid prioritisation” was blocked in rules back in 2015 after much outcry, and it’s likely many hoped that would be the end of it.

Consumer groups and big internet companies argue that such regulation is needed to curb the power of the broadband providers and prevent them from rigging the internet through their control over the pipes.

The new plan is set to be announced on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. Holidays are often used to pass controversial legislation while people are distracted.

Evan Greer, campaign director at Fight for the Future, posted on Reddit a month ago to start drumming up support.

“The good news is that we are hearing from people who are meeting with Congress that there are key lawmakers who are sympathetic to the cause, and considering stepping in to slow down the FCC,” wrote Greer. But they need to be getting a lot more phone calls from constituents in order to act.”

The changes are expected to be adopted at the Federal Communications Commission meeting in mid-December. If you care about keeping the internet fair, don’t be distracted by the turkey this year.

An easy click-to-call tool has been set up at https://www.battleforthenet.com

Are you concerned about net neutrality? Share your thoughts in the comments.