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Media trends 2020: AI, 5G, self-driving cars were the top IT media trends in Russia in 2020

January 28, 2021|
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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.

Focus on government initiatives

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.

In my opinion, the world was rather nervous about whether Trump could make TikTok sell its American business to a local company. Trump’s policy in this case shows how great the desire of the old, pre-Internet world is to put new technologies into the framework of their ideas about the structure of the IT industry. I hope this will be the last year of the fight of regulators across the world with the globalisation of the Internet. It is clear that regulation is necessary, but it must be based on some completely new principles, also related to the globalisation possibilities that the Internet provides.

Oleg Salmanov

Editor-in-chief, “Non-digital economy” Telegram channel

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.

One of the most discussed topics was the issue of allocating frequencies for 5G, since there is a great risk that Russia will lag behind in the development of the technology without the “golden band”. We have also witnessed how cross-industry competition escalated into ecosystem battles as digitalisation evolved. And gradually we find ourselves in a world where everyone competes with each other: IT and telecom companies, banks, retailers, Internet services, taxi services, etc. A lot of attention was focused on new government decisions aimed at supporting and developing IT companies.

Alexandra Kirianova

Editor-in-chief, CNews

The fact that government initiatives were so prominent in the 2020 agenda did not surprise experts.

Representatives of the market in 2020 were solving rather mundane tasks, such as maintaining revenue and profitability. This is especially important when one service has to subsidize others that are declining. The main customers are now more often state-owned companies and public authorities, which are actively developing projects for smart cities, smart roads and other smart things, both on the regional and federal scale.

Denis Kuskov

CEO, TelecomDaily

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.

Win-win for everyone in the “Covid year”

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.

Technology helped us to minimize the negative impact of the forced widespread isolation that resulted from the pandemic. Many IT companies offering solutions, for example, for improving the efficiency and security of distance work, took advantage of the situation and significantly increased their revenues. I think this is quite fair. It is great that in Russia there are many suppliers and developers of technological products and solutions that are so necessary during the pandemic.

Alexander Levashov

Editor-in-chief, TAdviser

Alexandra Kirianova from CNews highlighted six areas that have undergone significant changes due to the pandemic, which was reflected in the information agenda.

Information technology was in the spotlight: remote work, telemedicine, online communications, distance education, e-government services, online commerce have rapidly become a part of our everyday life. The complexities caused by the pandemic have created new opportunities for a number of ICT market players. Therefore, it is quite natural that the introduction of digital technologies in the context of the pandemic was widely discussed.

Alexandra Kirianova

Editor-in-chief, CNews

However, not all experts agree that 25% of publications about COVID-Tech are quite a high figure.

I think that there has been surprisingly little discussion about the implementation of technology in the context of COVID-19. And those publications that were issued were not deep enough. The pandemic has given a chance for societies and states to change the approach to the use of technologies, to deregulate their use, which has experienced excessive pressure from regulators in recent years. But instead of this we discussed whether we need Zoom or a domestic analogue.

Oleg Salmanov

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.

Digital technologies have become a big ‘safety cushion’ for the whole world when the pandemic made everyone stay in self-isolation and stop most economic and social processes. Everyone realized that it was necessary to change right there and then. In this context, this crisis demonstrated effective digital technologies, including AI.

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.

Ani Aslanyan

Founder of “All about blockchain, brain and digital economy” Telegram channel

Intelligent cases replacing AI hype

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.

The recent study by CNews Analytics has confirmed that AI is one of the hottest technologies in Russia. According to experts, AI is used more actively in our country than in many European countries. There is also evidence that these technologies are used or piloted by almost all large Russian companies. The situation with obtaining economic benefit from their application is more complicated, it is not always possible to receive it. So, the current hype is largely a consequence of the wider implementation of AI technology.

Alexandra Kirianova

Editor-in-chief, CNews

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.

AI is both a big hype and a large number of practical solutions in different areas. And of course, the use of AI is expanding every year. Aerial vehicles without pilots, combine harvesters without combine drivers, taxis without taxi drivers, trains without drivers - all this is already a reality today, and all of this, to a certain extent, falls under the AI category.

Alexander Levashov

Editor-in-chief, TAdviser

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.

The penetration of technologies that are usually included in the AI category - computer vision, chat bots, recommendation systems, voice assistants, predictive analytics - in our everyday life is becoming not only more noticeable and significant, but, in fact, irreplaceable. AI is already being used in various fields, from unlocking a phone using face to controlling city traffic lights. In the coming years it will have a much greater impact on our lives than the emergence of anthropomorphic robots.

Oleg Salmanov

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.

There are several governments and cities where the pandemic gave a strong impetus to the development of AI: Moscow (the city has made a qualitative breakthrough in the implementation of AI in healthcare), Amsterdam and Helsinki (the first cities that put the registers of AI algorithms in open access), Singapore (invested $14.3 billion in AI), China (the first country in the world to use AI on a large scale in combating the pandemic), the USA (leader in the number of unicorns in AI in the world), Russia (provides subsidies for the research of brain-computer interfaces), Estonia (launched a chatbot to provide public services).

Ani Aslanyan

Founder of “All about blockchain, brain and digital economy” Telegram channel

The first significant decisions in the field of 5G

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 2020 5G networks have become a mass commercial reality in the world: by the end of 2020, 140 operators in 59 countries have launched commercial 5G services; there were 335 commercially available 5G devices on the market, of which only 233 were smartphones. On November 23, the Radiocommunication Bureau of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU-R) approved three 5G standards: two 3GPP standards and 5Gi, which was developed in India.

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.

Leonid Konik

Editor-in-Chief, COMNEWS

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 increase in the frequency of mentions is most likely caused by the discussions of various options for solving those issues, without which we will not be able to implement 5G networks in Russia. These are the production of equipment in Russia, the implementation of a single technological operator, the allocation of the required frequency band, etc.

Denis Kuskov

CEO, TelecomDaily

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.

2020 was an important year for Russia in determining the path it will take in developing 5G communications. Unfortunately, in terms of frequency bands, the expected, but not the best, decisions were made. Moreover, the decision to build 5G using only local base stations was made - it is also an important and widely discussed step in the industry. Finally, Kryptonite presented a prototype of a domestic 5G base station. This also raised interest in the topic.

Oleg Salmanov

Editor-in-chief, “Non-Digital Economy”

Blockchain in practice

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.

The increase in the number of mentions of blockchain in the media is due to the fact that the technology began to be introduced on industrial scale in the world. There is no more hype - only reasonable consumption and technology development. The pandemic also played a huge role, it contributed to the development of the infrastructure and projects using the technology in fintech and healthcare.

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.

Ani Aslanyan

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.

The growing interest in blockchain is primarily associated with the initiative of the Bank of Russia to issue a digital ruble and harsh criticism of its approaches expressed by large commercial banks (they fear that a significant part of the money supply will be withdrawn from the banking system of Russia and “elevated” in the form of digital rubles to the Central Bank level). In addition, blockchain was mentioned in the context of the possibility of concluding smart contracts and “coloring” money (to track the intended use of amounts) in the discussions of the digital ruble.

Leonid Konik

Editor-in-Chief, COMNEWS

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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