John Markus Lervik, CEO and co-founder of Cognite, reflects on this month’s big event that wasn’t:

For the second year in a row, the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, was canceled.

You may be thinking “Good riddance!” Sure—it’s easy to joke about Davos and how it’s nothing but VIPs jetting into a resort town, spouting their supposed wisdom about the future, and taking off.

If you’re not a world leader or the head of a Fortune 100 company, however, I’d argue there’s a lot you can get out of a trip to Davos. The opportunities for interesting conversations are endless. (Besides, who wouldn’t welcome a chance to reconnect with people you might not have seen since before the pandemic?)

There are still plenty of virtual sessions on the agenda, but as we’ve learned over the past two years, going all-virtual isn’t a perfect replacement for the real thing. You can’t save the world on Zoom.

Let’s conduct a thought experiment. If Davos were still happening this week, here are the headlines I’d hope to see emerge from the Alpine town:

The man who told you about the industrial metaverse, Stein Danielsen, Cognite’s Chief Solutions Officer, is back, and this time he’s talking about the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

The annual Vegas-based gadget extravaganza that is CES took place in the early days of 2022, with a mostly stay-at-home audience thanks to Omicron. But that didn’t stop the consumer electronics giants of the world from rolling out the latest and greatest in slimmer, curvier or even color-changing contraptions to wow their viewers.

Stein follows the event closely each year, so we thought we’d pick his brain on what the industrial world can learn from the big reveals at CES.

Does CES tell us anything about the future of industry?

SD: I definitely see a crossover into industry. The consumer industry is a few years ahead of industry on many fronts. In previous years it has been about handheld devices and wireless sensors. This year, I feel it was very much about robotics.

Like what?

SD: CES had a record number of new robots and in so many shapes and sizes. The usage areas span from entertainment, to hospitality, to automatically disinfecting rooms and delivering goods. I think most or all of these are applicable to industry.

Did any of the featured robots stand out as having specific industrial potential?

SD: One example is the remote-controlled robot Beomni. Beomni could easily be a telepresence option for industrial sites. It features arms and very delicate hands that allow for operating equipment remotely. LG showed CLOi, a GuideBot and a ServeBot, both of which could easily work in industry. And Samsung revealed their home companion robots, the Samsung Bot I and the Samsung Bot Handy, along with an AI Avatar. These would be great industrial coworkers, enabling telepresence and remote access to sites.

So, how far have we really come with these robots? Are they industry-ready?

SD: From my point of view, the manual, remotely operated robots are really starting to show promise to do actual work right now. As for the autonomous robots, I think we’ve solved (on an academic level) two out of the three requirements. We’ve solved the spatial awareness and the learning loop, just like a human. But we still lack actual robot hardware that can move like a human. But we’re getting there, and it’s exciting to see that in many areas and tasks – we are there!

Norway has the world’s largest proportion of electric vehicles: 65% of new passenger cars sold in Norway in 2021 were electric. 

What chip shortage? Tesla and its Chinese competitors had their best year based on sales. Analysts believe this will continue in 2022. 

World’s largest coal port is going green: The Port of Newcastle in Australia will be powered by 100% renewable energy.

“Immediate intervention”: The largest airlines in the US asked the Biden administration to delay the rollout of 5G near airports. “When deployed next to runways, the 5G signals could interfere with the key safety equipment that pilots rely on to take off and land in inclement weather,” United said in a statement. 

Investor group warns EU on green labeling: The European Union has drafted a plan to label some gas and nuclear investments as green. Now a group of investors managing 50 trillion is warning against the EU’s plan, concerned it would weaken global leadership on green finance.

The earth has a fever, and it’s getting worse: According to a climate report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the US in 2021 saw 20 weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each.

10% increase in gas prices: Europeans gas prices rise yet again after Germany rejects pipeline from Russia over concerns that Russia could use it as a political weapon.

Norway helps ease sky-high electricity prices: The government will subsidize electricity bills for households (not) feeling the heat.

Green development in China: The world’s top greenhouse gas emitter unveils a five-year plan to boost green development in its industrial sectors.

Storing energy in salt? A Danish startup has developed technology that can store energy in molten salt. It has raised $12 million from backers, including Denmark’s richest man.

Green Bitcoin transition: Bitcoin in its current form is not ESG compliant, but significant process has been made this year.

Wind power was Spain’s dominant source of electricity in 2021: Renewable sources cover 47% of the country’s consumption

Over the past year, we’ve had the privilege of engaging with so many experts and leaders from across industry. Each of them shared some hot tips that we’re taking with us into a new year of digital opportunities.

1. There’s a silver lining to the pandemic for heavy asset industry

The pandemic has left its mark on most industries in every corner of the planet. It’s represented more of a sharp turn rather than a learning curve for most of us, which is where Accenture’s CEO Julie Sweet says we can find the “silver lining”:

“If there’s a silver lining to the pandemic, it’s that it has required companies to accelerate their digital transformations. We can use the technology to achieve our goals around sustainability much faster than pre-pandemic. This is a huge opportunity, and we should all take it.”

Susan Peterson Sturm, VP of Security at Cognite, looks ahead at how the cybersecurity landscape will change in 2022:

In the Operational Technology (OT) security space, 2021 has brought enough change to make a security professional’s head spin.  It’s in this context that I want to share some perspectives on the macro industry trends that are likely to influence OT Security Teams in 2022.

Expect an accelerated pace of change in OT Systems 

After spending 20 years in the OT energy space, I used to observe a “set it and forget it” mindset quite often, with energy operators minimizing changes to OT systems, especially in Purdue Model layers 2 and below. While IoT tech has driven a great deal of visible changes in layers 3 and above, I think we will see the pace of change in systems 2 and below increasing, which will enable industry to operate smarter.

Ignite News asked three industrial leaders to look ahead and tell us what’s in store for their industries in the new year—through song.

“Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson

Carri Lockhart, EVP Technology, Digital and Innovation at Equinor, says that our energy systems will need to get much stronger in 2022 to prepare for the energy demands of societies in an affordable and reliable way. She doesn’t believe that oil and gas will disappear anytime soon, but this industry will need to aggressively decarbonize, all while providing capital, competencies, and capacity to create future sustainable energy solutions.

“The world is moving at an incredibly fast pace,” Lockhart said. “This is an exciting time to be in the industry, whether it is decarbonizing oil and gas or delivering renewable and low-carbon solutions. For individuals who love working on complex problems, I believe the opportunities are vast in terms of ability to make a difference.”

Mark Zuckerberg strikes again, collecting news headlines and global attention (and creating distractions), and ensuring that the word “metaverse” worms its way into our everyday vocabulary, whether we like it or not. While we’re grateful that this isn’t another story of a billionaire dreaming of space odysseys, it’s still all about conquering another kind of kingdom—a virtual one.

So, will Meta (formerly known as Facebook) be the master of the metaverse? Or will the practical utility of a 3D virtual world outweigh consumer entertainment for once? Asset-heavy industry is definitely a metaverse contender, having already shown its love for digital twins and computer vision to test, predict, inspect, and conduct a host of other tasks from the comfort of a leather-padded office chair.