Ignite Talks Updates
An unclear coalition and a climate in crisis – here’s a look at the German election
Germany held national elections this past Sunday, marking the end of a 16-year long center-right led government, as Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic Union steps down. And while it seems the center-left Social Democrats have the edge with a slim plurality, it’s not enough to be the obvious coalition leader. It will likely be weeks, if not months, until Europe’s most economically and politically powerful nation puts its governing coalition in place.
What stood out during this election cycle are three clear signs showing that climate and the energy transition were top of mind for the German people.
From pledge to action? An analysis from BloombergNEF, shows that 111 companies of the climate “focus” list have set net-zero targets: that is two-thirds of the world’s heaviest emitters. Although the climate pledges are impressive, it is the tangible steps that will matter, shares Axios.
NASA launched a new Earth-observing satellite: This satellite will provide a “rich form of data” that will capture changes in the planet’s landscape, which will be vital in understanding and managing Earth’s resources.
Global power shortage: There is a worrying shortage of energy from Europe to China – and beyond, caused by supply restraints from the world’s top producers, which poses threats to supply chains and homes.
How high will they climb? Oil prices rise above $80 a barrel for the first time in three years.
Less talk, more action: Making headlines in the Nordics, the CEO of Ørsted, Mads Nipper, says that a successful energy transition (link in Norwegian) depends not just on technology, but on proper leadership willing to make bold moves.
In one of the first in-person industry events since COVID-19, international leaders from across asset-heavy industries took to the stage in Oslo, Norway, on Sept. 21, to present how they are working toward net zero or net negative and the investments they’re making in technology, ESG solutions, and workforce transformation. Set to a backdrop of industrial images juxtaposed with glimpses of majestic nature, the industrial technology and digitalization conference provided a blunt reminder of the world that these net-zero pledges are trying to protect.
[Editor’s note: All of these sessions, plus dozens of other Ignite Talks, are available on-demand now.]
Norway swings leftward: For the first time in 62 years, all five Nordic nations will soon be lead by leaders from the left side of the political spectrum.
Prep for the UN climate summit: Reuters reports that the US and EU are pursuing a global deal to cut methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030, compared with 2020 levels.
Time to step up! EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen used her annual state of the union address to call on China and other nations to join the EU’s ambitious plan to deliver on climate commitments and to meet Paris Agreement targets.
Milestone in reversing climate change: Orca, the world’s largest direct air capture and CO2 storage plant, is a first-of-its-kind plant that translates the vision of industrial-scale direct air capture and storage into reality.
Does sustainable investing make any difference? In this podcast, Tariq Fancy, a former Blackrock executive, explains that real change will be lead by the government and not by Wall Street.
World’s hottest temperatures are rising: A global BBC analysis found that the total number of days above 50C (122F) has increased in each decade since 1980.
Houston is evidently the 2nd fastest growing technology hub in the United States:
Citing data from career platform LinkedIn, Houston has seen a healthy influx of tech workers since the start of the pandemic. In fact, Houston ranks second among 14 major U.S. labor markets for the number of relocating software and IT workers between March 2020 and February 2021 compared with the same period a year earlier.
“When one discovers the impact of technology, the global scope of innovation, how it advances societies and is so critical to business, that’s when you know that the tech sector is now and will always be one of the most exciting industries in the world,” proclaims Kimmo Alkio, president and CEO of TietoEVRY, the Nordic software and services company.
Alkio has been traversing the world of technology since he graduated from Texas A&M University in the 1980s. He started his tech career with Digital Equipment Corporation (later acquired by Compaq), followed by F-Secure and Nokia before joining the former Tieto in 2011.
“Those who’ve been in this industry for a while have seen how we’ve been through a large learning curve across different technologies, different business models, and evolving ways of working,” Alkio said. “This experience, along with the development of close customer relationships, are the foundations for success in the field.”
Change has been constant throughout Alkio’s career. He had just wrapped up Tieto’s merger with EVRY (in December 2019) when society shut down shortly after, prompted by the Covid-19 outbreak. Alkio describes it as an exciting but challenging time.
The dual forces of a life-changing pandemic and a newly settled merger posed an opportunity for us to question our old habits, to learn how to engage virtually with employees across the globe, and maintain and even intensify the activity levels with customers,” he said.
Zhiwei Jiang can’t even begin to count how often he’s heard the phrase “data is the new oil.” Presumably more often than most, given that he’s CEO of Insights & Data at Capgemini, a global leader in consulting, digital transformation, technology, and engineering services.
Even before joining Capgemini in 2014, his banking career, which culminated in the role of managing director of Deutsche Bank in London, had long instilled in him a healthy respect for data-powered business.
So, does he agree with the cliché? Absolutely not.
“Data isn’t oil,” Jiang says. “At least not anymore. Data is more like sunshine, abundant and unlimited in its potential. It has a positive impact on the environment. And critically, sunshine wants to be shared – not hoarded.”
The importance of data sharing is something that Jiang makes sure to emphasize. At Capgemini, there is a strong belief that it takes an ecosystem to truly derive value from data, and that the benefits of doing so are endless – from improved customer satisfaction and highly optimized operations to societal good and a more sustainable future.
It was election day in Norway on Monday, a Norwegian right likened to selecting one’s favorite apple from the spectrum of apple varieties. It’s a far cry from the “apples and oranges” polarization pickle that other nations find themselves caught in these days, and by all accounts, Norway’s 5.328 million inhabitants are happier for it – at least according to the World Happiness Index.
The red apples were the fan favorites this year, with Norway’s Labor Party, Arbeiderpartiet, taking the top spot. The triumphant party will now commence talks with their more like-minded political peers on how their coalition government will pan out. It’s a process of collaboration and compromise, which are perhaps the defining characteristics of any Norwegian regime, no matter how red or blue.
Norwegian public affairs expert Erlend Bollman Bjørtvedt, founder of the country risk mitigation company Corisk, sheds some light on how Norway exercises its impact and what the awaiting administration may influence next.
According to a Tech Pro Research survey, 70% of companies either have a digital transformation strategy in place or are working on one, an impressive figure which might suggest that the vast expanse of industry is well on its way to a promising digital future. In reality, 70% of digital transformations fail, most often due to resistance from employees, according to research conducted by McKinsey.
Stakeholder demand and public expectation continue to rise at pace. Driven by the pressure to decarbonize, nearly every sector is setting more rigorous sustainability standards with digitalization at their heart. If companies can’t manage the change, they risk reputational damage and becoming irrelevant.
“When it comes to digitalization, what companies need most is to outline their commitment and goals and formulate a plan to offer structure and translate strategy into action for their people,” says John Sczurko, executive president of consulting at Wood.