ICT.Moscow has conducted a monitoring of key media trends in IT in Russia, presented key findings of the 2020 and discussed them with the editors-in-chief of TAdviser, TelecomDaily, CNews, ComNews, and “Non-digital economy”, “All about blockchain, brain and digital economy” Telegram channels.
Technologies and technology areas selected for media trends monitoring were mentioned more than 776 thousand times in 2020, which is slightly less than in 2019 (decreased by 5.7%). Artificial intelligence (AI) was the undisputed leader in terms of mentions throughout the year: technology was constantly on the agenda, and the media interest in it was steadily growing. In December 2020, AI set a new highest number of mentions for the first time since June 2019.
Among other things, the monitoring has shown that the interest of the media in technologies and technology areas was stimulated by federal, city and regulatory agendas. The representatives of the media and Telegram channels, with whom ICT.Moscow discussed the most notable events in IT and telecom for 2020, also confirmed it.
Denis Kuskov, CEO of the information and analytical agency TelecomDaily, also drew attention to the fact that various regulatory initiatives were discussed a lot in the media. In particular, he mentioned the Yarovaya law (in September it was announced that the government planned to postpone the enforcement of the requirement for IT and telecom companies to move servers with personal data of Russians to the territory of Russia) and the discussion of the Gorelkin law (in particular, its vague prospects due to rescheduling of the timeline for finalization). According to Denis Kuskov, the most notable issues in telecom are the issues related to the creation of domestic equipment and 5G networks. CNews editor-in-chief Alexandra Kirianova mentioned this media trend among the most significant ones.
The fact that government initiatives were so prominent in the 2020 agenda did not surprise experts.
Oleg Salmanov, editor-in-chief of “Non-Digital Economy”, also said that the first reason for the significance of the federal agenda was the fact that the state and regions (especially Moscow), along with state-owned companies, are the largest customers of IT systems, and therefore such a bias in the economy could not but affect the media space. At the same time, according to the expert, it is more important to inform the state and municipal authorities rather than private companies. Another reason is that the media space is dominated by the state or regional authorities media. All these factors put together resulted in such a bias in the agenda, the expert claims.
Of course, speaking of 2020, we cannot ignore the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the monitoring, in about 25% of cases, technologies and technology areas were mentioned in the context of the pandemic. The peak in the number of COVID-Tech publications (about technologies with the coronavirus) was reached in March-May, when COVID-19 dominated the information agenda. In the second quarter about 3 out of 10 mentions of technologies were somehow related to coronavirus. Then interest in the COVID-Tech segment declined until mid-autumn to about 10 thousand publications per month.
The experts who discussed 2020 media trends with ICT.Moscow claim that the fact that technologies and technology areas are mentioned frequently in the media was quite natural. First of all, IT solutions helped companies to quickly adapt to the new conditions, which subsequently had a positive effect on the companies’ development.
Alexandra Kirianova from CNews highlighted six areas that have undergone significant changes due to the pandemic, which was reflected in the information agenda.
However, not all experts agree that 25% of publications about COVID-Tech are quite a high figure.
Editor-in-chief, “Non-digital economy” Telegram channel
The most popular technology in the COVID-Tech segment is artificial intelligence. In June AI overtook robotics in terms of the number of monthly mentions, and kept the lead until the end of the year. Over the entire year, this technology was also mentioned more often than others - 35.7 thousand times in total. Ani Aslanyan drew greater attention to this particular technology.
In February, international media started to write about the use of technology in combating the virus. It made sense, since AI played a huge role in the treatment of people around the world. There were also some cases when companies tried to use ‘AI’ word and take advantage of the hype to promote their products, but any boom will end sooner or later, and the technology will remain where changes really occur.
Artificial Intelligence also kept the lead throughout the year in terms of the number of mentions without reference to COVID-Tech. AI not only had a sizeable lead over all other technologies and technology areas (more than 201 thousand mentions from January to December 2020 in total), but also in December, for the first time since June 2019, hit a new record of monthly mentions - 24.1 thousand.
CNews also points out that artificial intelligence in 2020 was one of the most noticeable trends in Russia and will influence the 2021 agenda.
Almost all experts highlight the emergence of a larger number of AI practical cases. Alexander Levashov from TAdviser, for example, put emphasis on the segment of unmanned vehicles, which was analyzed as a separate area in the ICT.Moscow monitoring and became the third most frequently mentioned area in 2020.
In March 2020, ICT.Moscow launched an open AI Knowledge Base, which includes both Russian and foreign cases
Oleg Salmanov believes that the high interest of the media in various artificial intelligence technologies is connected with with the fact that they are becoming indispensable in everyday life.
Editor-in-chief, “Non-digital economy” Telegram channel
We also have to take into account the fact that the federal agenda was clearly visible in AI publications in 2020: several regulatory events that were decisive for the Russian industry took place over the year. For instance, one of the most significant events in the industry was the approval of “Artificial Intelligence” federal project and the Concept for the Regulation of AI and Robotics until 2024 - these documents will determine the development of the technology in Russia in the coming years. The experts in charge of the federal project and the drafters of the Concept shared the details of these events.
According to Ani Aslanyan’s observations, the growth in the rate of AI development primarily occurred in digital corporations and startups, and then in the public sector. However, the importance of AI in various cities and states of the world also cannot be denied, and it was demonstrated by several examples.
The second most frequently mentioned IT media trend in 2020 was 5G communication. It has grown more than other technologies in terms of the number of mentions compared to 2019 - by more than 40%. In total, 5G was mentioned about 118 thousand times a year in the Russian-language media. The COVID-19 pandemic has noticeably encouraged interest in 5G: in the spring, 5G was often mentioned in the context of coronavirus (more than 4 thousand times in May). However, in the second half of the year, the number of mentions of 5G along with COVID-19 significantly decreased, but the general discussions of the technology in the media continued to grow.
In Russia the main barrier at the regulatory level is the reluctance of government agencies to allocate the frequency bands that are harmonized for 5G in Europe. Meanwhile, every day of delay in the launch of 5G networks in Russia increases its lag behind the progressive countries and hinders the development of the digital economy in the country.
Denis Kuskov from TelecomDaily also believes that the increase in the number of references to the technology is connected with the frequency bands issue and other aspects of 5G development 5G in Russia that were discussed in the media.
The events mentioned by the expert were really noticeable in the second half of 2020. For example, in September an agreement between the Moscow government and the Rostec state corporation on the joint development of 5G technologies in Russia, which included cooperation in organizing the work of the Moscow 5G demo center launched in October, was widely discussed. And one of the most discussed topics of November was the decision of the Mintsifry to deploy new generation networks using domestic equipment only. Oleg Salmanov from “Non-Digital Economy” also highlighted the significance of these events.
Editor-in-chief, “Non-Digital Economy”
Blockchain is another technology the interest in which grew in 2020. This trend was noticeable in the second half of the year, when the number of monthly mentions of the technology in the Russian-language media doubled compared to the beginning of the year. In total, blockchain was mentioned more than 60 thousand times a year - 15% more than in 2019.
As in the case with AI, blockchain experts see a shift from news about the future of technology to messages about its practical application.
For example, Estonia and WHO are already piloting a blockchain platform with digital passports of vaccinated people. The pandemic has also caused an increase in the rates of cryptocurrencies that use blockchain technology, but this is not the first reason for its popularity. Blockchain, like AI, is a disrupt technology - a rapidly evolving technology.
Founder of “All about blockchain, brain and digital economy” Telegram channel
Another example of using blockchain in practice could also be mentioned. One of the most notable summer news stories was the implementation of the technology in Moscow for remote electronic voting on amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation. In August 2020, it was announced that Rostelecom and Waves Enterprise were developing a blockchain-based remote e-voting system.
The financial aspect of using blockchain cannot be disregarded. The initiatives to launch TON (developed by the founder of Telegram Pavel Durov) and Libra (Facebook) cryptocurrencies were widely discussed in 2020. The first project has failed, but the second can still be launched. However, at the end of the year, there was a noticeable event in Russia, which was mentioned by one of the experts.
Based on the foregoing, it can be assumed that the growth of interest in the blockchain will continue in 2021: the practice of implementing the technology both in financial institutions and in other areas will become regular, therefore, blockchain is likely to be actively discussed in the media.
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