Weekend update: Verizon launches 5G network, Slack to go public and Google improves temporary employee benefits

Innovation Enterprise's regular weekly update returns with the best content from across our Channels following a week of worker protests, game-changing launches and the latest warning on humanity's approach to AI


It's been a busy old week at Innovation Enterprise HQ, but that hasn't stopped us from providing our dedicated readers with the latest insights and developments from the frenzied world of tech.

Among the most popular stories we've covered this week is the news that Slack is to follow Spotify's lead by raising capital through a direct stock listing on the New York Stock Exchange. Meanwhile, Schneider Electric launched a new cross-industry open ecosystem, which will attempt to solve real-world sustainability and efficiency challenges, and Facebook faced yet more criticism for its lax response to data privacy after it was revealed two more third-party apps had been openly storing users' data.

This week also saw the publication of our latest ebook, DATAx Guide to Gaming Analytics. This insightful ebook takes a deep dive into the gaming world and how video game developers are embracing AI, data and machine-learning (ML) models, and is available to download for free.

DATAx San Francisco is just around the corner and with a great speaker line up of speakers – including the likes of Amazon, Google, Hinge, Uber, PlayStation, Facebook and many, many more – be sure not to miss out on buying tickets while they are still available. More information on all of our upcoming events can also be found on our Summits page.

Below is our pick of news stories, analysis and interviews from across our Channels over the past week.

DATAx presents: The intersection of data and creativity in gaming

Among our favorite tech experts we had the fortune to speak to this week was Matt Howell, executive director of analytics at WB Games, who sat down with us to discuss the development of engaging gameplay through the use of creativity and data.

In a wide-ranging interview, Howell talks about the role of data in fuelling creativity within the gaming industry, the effort required to understand the human aspect of gameplay, and how to bring two teams from differing viewpoints and backgrounds together to produce a successful game.

"In every one of our studios, we see data throughout the entire development process," Howell notes. "It starts really early on with play testing and monitoring how players are responding to a new feature or a design change. This includes a combination of watching sentiment and having the right telemetry in place to see how a product is performing."

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Verizon launches 5G in Chicago and Minneapolis

Having received huge lip service over the past few years, the much-hyped and highly anticipated 5G revolution may have finally arrived. Covering parts of both Chicago and Minneapolis, Verizon has launched its first 5G network, after it moved the original launch date forward a week, to beat both the South Korean government and AT&T to become the first 5G carrier in the world.

"Verizon customers will be the first in the world to have the power of 5G in their hands," boasted Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg.

"This is the latest in our string of 5G firsts. Verizon launched the first commercial broadband 5G service last October, Verizon 5G Home, and now we're lighting up our 5G Ultra-Wideband network in Chicago and Minneapolis, providing the world's first commercial 5G mobile service with a 5G-enabled smartphone."

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Making the most of mountains of data

In his first article for Innovation Enterprise Channels, Vince Dawkins, president and CEO of Enertia Software, looks at why businesses should enhance their attempts to harness the power of data.

Arguing that businesses should capitalize on the data they already have by addressing quality concerns and building a proper infrastructure, Dawkins writes: "A lack of understanding about how to properly collect, read and apply data is costing companies untold amounts of money in the form of lost revenue opportunities, quality issues and decreases in productivity."

"Data must be accurate and clearly structured before you can analyze it effectively," he writes. "Bad data renders your ML tools and personnel investments useless, and it can ultimately lead to errors that harm your business."

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Google to begin giving temp workers full benefits

Google this week found itself responding to a letter signed by hundreds of its own employees a calling for equal treatment for temporary employees and contractors, by announcing plans to provide all contracted and temporary workers with a full benefits package, including healthcare, paid parental leave and a $15 minimum wage, by 2022.

In an internal memo, Eileen Naughton, vice-president of people operations at Google, wrote: "These are meaningful changes, and we're starting in the US, where comprehensive healthcare and paid parental leave are not mandated by US law.

"As we learn from our implementation here, we'll identify and address areas of potential improvement in other areas of the world."

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DATAx presents: Data leadership and the Singapore startup scene

Following the company's participation at DATAx Singapore's Tech Startup Launchpad last month, we caught up with Botbot.AI founder Wong Hong Ting to talk about data leadership and the challenges facing companies in the Asian startup scene.

Speaking exclusively to Innovation Enterprise, Wong Hong Ting, whose Singapore-based enterprise automation company uses chatbots as an interface for enabling the ground-up collection of data, described Singapore as "a great place to access ASEAN talents and global customers".

In regard to one of the most talked about issues within the data industry – leadership – he advises: "The delicate balance between data strategy and business intelligence is ultimately the catalyst of success for data teams and leaders within organizations."

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Humanity needs to grow up in the face of AI, warns Google ethics advisor

There's no doubt that the perception of AI among the masses has been damaged by the words of Elon Musk, who claimed AI was humanity's "biggest existential threat", and the late, great Professor Stephen Hawking, who argued that AI "could spell the end of the human race". Adding to AI's image problem, Google ethics advisor and Hong Kong-based computer scientist De Kai said this week that we all need to "grow up" to cope with the AI's huge potential.

De Kai, who is professor of computer science and engineering at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and a member of Google's 2019 Advanced Technology External Advisory Council, warned humankind: "It's always comforting to say [...] we know how to tackle [AI] by drawing lessons from history – absolutely we need to draw lessons from history as much as we can – but we also need to recognize that what we are facing now has no precedent."

When our robot overloads arrive, don't say we didn't warn you…

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