Shaping The Future Of Engineering And Technology With NI CMO Ana Villegas

Ana Villegas knew early on that she wanted to be a CMO and achieved that goal by staying focused on gaining the skills necessary to do so. As the recent CMO at NI, she oversaw everything from “brand to demand,” including corporate communication, ESG strategy, and ensuring NI’s values manifested in the marketplace.

In this episode, Ana and I talk about how her experience as a successful female business leader informs the way NI is increasing diversity in its engineering talent. We also discuss what she is doing to help modernize the company’s purpose and impact strategy and how the company is being intentional in shaping the future of the industry. At the time of this recording, Ana was with NI and has recently become the new CMO at Affinipay.


In this episode, you’ll learn: 

  • How Ana is helping to modernize and rebrand an established company
  • The three pillars NI has established to drive its corporate impact strategy
  • Ways to directly impact the pipeline of talent and improve diversity in technology

Key Highlights 

  • [04:20] Ana’s path from being an engineering student in Peru to CMO at NI 
  • [09:35] How is the CMO role defined at NI
  • [10:55] Why does NI classify ESG under the marketing umbrella
  • [12:30] The way corporate impact manifests in the marketplace
  • [14:30] The unique position NI is in to shape the future of engineering 
  • [18:15] What NI is doing to “change the faces of engineering”
  • [23:15] The important role women play in business leadership
  • [24:50] Practical ways Ana is focusing on diversifying the workforce
  • [26:30] The importance of being mindful of leadership succession plans  
  • [30:00] The impact Ana’s grandmother had on who she is today
  • [33:15] Shifts in marketing towards being more multidimensional 
  • [35:00] Which companies are leading efforts to get more women into STEM
  • [37:45] The benefits of being agile in the way we engage customers

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*Note: at the time of this recording, Ana was with NI and is now the CMO at Affinipay*


Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth opportunities. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies but is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine companies.

Survey: DTC Marketers Want A More Accurate Alternative To Click-Based Data But Most Still Rely On It

Last-touch data accuracy is a top concern for 69% of DTC Marketers, yet click-based data still reigns as their primary measurement tool.

Measured’s The State of DTC Marketing Measurement Survey 2022, produced in collaboration with Sequent Partners and released this week, reveals that for 69% of marketers, the accuracy of click-based data gives them cause for concern, but 80% still use it as a primary metric. In addition, based on responses from over 300 DTC marketing executives, the study showed that the average executive spent about a quarter of their time managing data reporting activities. Some respondents spent more than 25 hours per week wrangling reports. 

While 81% of marketers report that they can tie media spend to the business results that they’re after, that doesn’t mean that they are not ready for better ways to measure and test the success of their marketing plans.

Not surprisingly, the report also revealed that DTC marketers’ technology investment budgets were earmarked primarily for acquiring new data reporting and strategy testing tools.

Better The Data You Know? 

Compliance complexity and tech changes have kept DTC marketers hungry for alternatives but bound to legacy tools and methods, innovating when they can and sticking with what they know when they cannot find better tools.

“New privacy rules restricting user-level tracking and shortening attribution lookback windows have had a significant impact on measurement systems and capabilities for media platforms and attribution vendors,” said Alice Sylvester, Partner at Sequent Partners, in a press release. “These challenges, added to rapid shifts in consumer behavior caused by unpredictable global events, have kept marketers in reactive mode for the past few years.”

DTC marketers also shied away from incrementality experiments (4.7%) and multi-touch attribution (2.5%) as a primary measurement tool, due to compliance concerns, according to the report.

The study also revealed that, as in years past, Facebook, Instagram, Google, and YouTube are the most often used channels by DTC marketers, with Meta and Google holding over 63% of the average DTC marketer’s spend. 

The Big Four may do exceptionally well with US-based direct-to-consumer brands in the future, as they have outspent other types of companies in terms of the share of revenue directed to marketing for years—and revenues are rising. Currently, 1 in 7 sales online is through a D2C channel per an eMarketer study. In addition, US-based direct-to-consumer eCommerce sales rose from $36.08 billion in 2016 to $128.33 billion in 2021, with some analysts predicting the market will reach $212.90 billion by the end of 2024

The Takeaway:

As direct-to-consumer continues to scale, marketers will need tools that offer a broad range of attribution management features and compliant tracking and testing options. That’s an opportunity for enterprising ad tech companies and the Big Four to gain marketers’ loyalty and more of their ad spend and MarTech dollars.

Leading Through 7X Growth With Qualcomm’s Don McGuire

Don McGuire is the senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Qualcomm Technologies. Don leads the global marketing organization, supporting Qualcomm’s advancement into new and existing markets and growth areas. He’s redefining Qualcomm’s strategic approach to product marketing, leading to innovative campaigns and collaborative partnerships that are bringing cutting-edge products to market.

On the show today, Don and I talk about how Qualcomm has increased its total available market by 7X, what that means for their strategies, and how they’re managing the organization through growth. We also talk about the brand strategies they use for their B2C brand, Snapdragon, as well as the enterprise brand of Qualcomm itself.

Listen in to learn how to elevate your brand and prepare for rapid growth.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why partnerships can elevate your brand
  • How to develop a compelling brand narrative
  • Tips for restructuring your marketing organization and leading through change

Key Highlights

  • [03:00] Don’s journey to Qualcomm
  • [06:30] Splitting the Qualcomm and Snapdragon brands
  • [12:00] Elevating the Snapdragon brand with a Ferrari partnership
  • [18:00] Developing mutually beneficial partnerships
  • [22:30] Fueling explosive growth with connectivity
  • [28:30] Developing a compelling brand narrative
  • [34:30] Restructuring Qualcomm’s marketing organization
  • [41:00] Experiences that define Don
  • [43:30] Don’s advice for his younger self
  • [44:30] What marketers should be learning more about
  • [49:00] The biggest opportunity for marketers today

Resources Mentioned:

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Connect with Marketing Today and Alan Hart:


Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth opportunities. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine companies.

Prioritizing Ad Privacy With Google’s David Temkin

David Temkin is the director of product management for ads privacy and user trust at Google. He leads the product management team responsible for ads privacy. His team focuses on delivering privacy-first monetization product changes driven by the changing regulatory environment. They are also responsible for transparency control for ads across Google’s ad business.

On the show today, David and I talk about his role and what privacy and the combination of privacy and trust mean. Later, David shares his thoughts on how marketers should think about advertising privacy and what we need to do to get consumers on board to understand its importance. We also discuss the removal of third-party cookies and what it means for effectively deploying ad campaigns.

Listen in to learn more.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What businesses should prioritize when it comes to privacy
  • Why marketers can convince their organization to prioritize privacy
  • Getting consumers to take privacy seriously

Key Highlights

  • [01:33] David’s journalism career
  • [02:54] Understanding David’s role
  • [04:34] What to prioritize with privacy
  • [06:37] Consumer trust with social media
  • [08:52] Convincing your business to prioritize user privacy
  • [10:19] Getting consumers to take privacy seriously
  • [12:45] How Google builds transparency and choice into its ad products
  • [14:56] The removal of third-party cookies
  • [18:20] Advice for marketers in a cookie-less world
  • [20:54] An experience that defines David
  • [23:42] David’s advice for his younger self
  • [24:15] What marketers should be learning more about
  • [25:29] The biggest threat and opportunity for marketers

Resources Mentioned:

Follow the podcast:

Connect with the Guest:

Connect with Marketing Today and Alan Hart:


Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth opportunities. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine companies.

Navigating The Hype Vs. Reality Of The Metaverse

The metaverse, NFTs, Web 3: the sprawling virtual world is all the rage. With the market opportunity estimated at over $1 trillion, the metaverse will likely touch every sector in some way in the coming years.

But how can brands explore this new digital frontier and navigate its hype versus its reality? A new paper from Onyx—the blockchain platform JP Morgan Chase (JPM) launched in 2020—explains everything a marketer needs to know about the metaverse, the ownership economy, what areas still require development and the factors to consider when devising your brand’s metaverse strategy.

First, it’s interesting to note Onyx’s approach to the metaverse since JPM recently became the first bank in the US to enter the space with a virtual lounge in Decentraland. Inside the Onyx lounge, users can buy virtual plots of land in the form of NFTs, enabling JPM to operate as a bank in the virtual world just like it does in the real world.

As the paper notes:

“The success of building and scaling in the metaverse is dependent on having a robust and flexible financial ecosystem that will allow users to seamlessly connect between the physical and virtual worlds. Our approach to payments and financial infrastructure will allow that interoperability to grow.”

Currently, Onyx is building and scaling technologies to modernize financial infrastructure, including tokenization and digital identity while streamlining the way content creators commercialize their creations. It says it’s also creating custom solutions with assets like embedded and interoperable stored value virtual wallets, flexible single-pay or multiple-pay options, fast and secure checkout, and the ability to support more than 120 currencies.

In addition to providing a handy chart outlining the differences between features of today’s metaverse—Web 2—and the emerging Web 3, Onyx shared these quick facts about the opportunities in the metaverse:

  • Every year, $54 billion is spent on virtual goods, almost double the amount spent buying music.
  • About 60 billion messages are sent daily on Roblox.
  • GDP for Second Life was about $650 million in 2021 with nearly $80 million US paid to creators.
  • NFTs currently have a market cap of $41 billion.
  • The Sandbox boasts 200 partnerships to date including Warner Music Group’s announcement of a music-themed virtual world.

The question on businesses’ minds is: Why invest in the metaverse now, if at all? For one, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headsets have become cheaper and more powerful, thereby improving the user experience. Blockchain has paved the way for digital currencies and NFTs. Token-holders can monetize and participate in the metaverse’s governance. All of this activity has created a democratic ownership economy that could open a world of new economic opportunities as well as communities based on shared values.

Another thing to keep in mind is the metaverse is evolving from two decades of gaming. Among the key events that shaped its formation include Second Life’s release in 2003, Microsoft’s acquisition of Minecraft and Amazon’s purchase of Twitch in 2014, Decentraland’s launch in 2020 and most recently, a visual plot of land adjacent to Snoop Dogg’s Sandbox estate selling for $450,000 in ETH.

Speaking of virtual real estate, that market is growing quickly. The average price of a parcel of land doubled in a six-month window in 2021—from $6,000 to $12,000 by December—across four main Web 3.0 metaverses, notes Onyx. Brands gobbling up land for the purpose of creating virtual stores and other experiences is one reason for the market’s growth. As the paper notes, in June 2021 developer Everyrealm purchased one land package in Decentraland for $913,000 to turn it into an entire shopping district called Metajuku.

The virtual real estate market could start seeing services already offered in the physical world, like credit, mortgages and rental agreements. The way Onyx sees it is:

“With the emergence of decentralized finance (DeFi), collateralized lending primitives and the composability of blockchain token-based digital assets, a next-generation financing company could potentially leverage digital clothing as collateral to underwrite virtual land and property mortgages. In fact, the financing company may not be a company at all, but instead, a self-organizing, mission-based community of people (who may not have met at all in person), also known as a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). The DAO may have seeded its original balance sheet into a multi-signature wallet to create the mortgages.”

Advertisers have a lot to gain from the meta-economy by way of branding and immersive ad experiences. In-game advertising is set to reach $18.41 billion by 2027 as in-game activations are on the rise. Remember Travis Scott’s concert in Fortnite? It was seen by 45 million people. Similar activations will eventually become more common as people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to such experiences, either due to location or cost, can now participate.

As the metaverse beckons greater interest and investment, people will need to develop and build the products that are consumed in the virtual world, which will spur opportunities for the creator economy. A pair of sneakers, for example, recently sold for $10,000 in an auction. The seller? Virtual shoe designer RTFKT, which Nike recently acquired.

More virtual events and experiences also mean a need for gig workers in the metaverse. If a brand is looking to host a party and wants musical entertainment, it could hire a singer or DJ to perform.

Before the metaverse can reach its full potential, key areas including technology, privacy and regulation must be developed. The following are just a few imperatives for growth, according to Onyx:

Technology

  • Development of interoperability or cross-virtual world interactions, and ways to manage engagement and digital assets across these platforms (Onyx says to think of it like being able to seamlessly change channels on the television)
  • Expanded data analytics and reporting for virtual spaces. These will be specifically designated for commercial and marketing usage and will track business key performance indicators (this already exists in some worlds, such as Cryptovoxels)
  • Reduction of environment ‘sharding’ so all participants can interact with each other live in the same location

Privacy and Identity

  • Verifiable credentials that can be easily structured to enable easier identification of fellow community/team members, or to enable configurable access to varying virtual world locations and experiences
  • Expansion of NFT token-gated spaces to include the creation of private interactions, discussion and messaging
  • Prevention against cyberbullying or online harassment/assault across virtual worlds

Commercial Infrastructure

  • Web 3.0 virtual world integrations with legacy traditional finance payment rails (e.g., credit cards, pay by bank, debit, automated clearing house/wires)
  • Creation of cross-border and cross-metaverse foreign exchange and liquidity solutions
  • Evolution of virtual/cryptocurrencies and digital asset backed financing and mortgages through using lending models, or leveraging decentralized finance (e.g., NFT-collateral backed virtual world mortgages)

Regulation, Tax Accounting And Social Infrastructure

  • Evolution of community governance (e.g., Who sets rules in the virtual worlds? Who governs?)
  • Paved paths on regulatory, tax and accounting treatment of Web 3.0 digital real estate/property, and virtual world commercial transactions
  • Solutions and services to support virtual worlds that are globally accessible, but may be required to adhere to local jurisdictional requirements and rules in commerce and payments

The metaverse opens a completely new realm of ways to engage consumers, but not everything in it will be relevant for every marketer. Here are some key questions Onyx suggests brands consider before jumping on the trend:

  • How would your business model and/or overall organization be impacted if there was more time spent interacting, transacting and socializing in virtual worlds? Would there be any impact at all?
  • Is there an opportunity to create new marketing channels through experiences, digital goods, sponsorships and a branded real estate presence?
  • If you want to have a presence or create an experience in the metaverse, do you have the in-house skillsets to do it yourself?
  • How important is it to your business to target a younger generation audience and tech-forward sub-communities?

Augmented And Virtual Reality Headset Shipments Grew 92% In 2021

In 2021, 11.2 million units of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headsets shipped globally, according to new data from International Data Corporation’s (IDC) worldwide quarterly AR/VR headset tracker. During holiday Q4, half of the annual volume was shipped, capping a record year that hasn’t seen similar volumes since 2016 when low-cost VR screenless viewers like Samsung’s Gear VR dominated the market.

The dramatic growth was largely thanks to Meta’s strong Quest 2 volumes, which accounted for 78 percent of the combined AR/VR worldwide market. Followed by DPVR (5.1 percent) and ByteDance’s Pico VR products (4.5 percent), both of which are well-positioned for growth in Asian markets, notes the report. In fourth and fifth places were VR pioneer HTC and China-based online video platform iQIYI.

Meta has been leading the AR/VR space due to its offering of a reasonably priced headset. Its tactic of introducing non-gamers and businesses to the array of uses for AR and VR beyond gaming has also benefited the company, said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers. 

Meta doesn’t currently have any major competitors in the AR/VR industry, though that’s likely to change in the next year or two when Sony launches its PSVR2 and Apple and other smartphone vendors enter the market.

AR/VR headset shipments are expected to grow just shy of 47 percent year-over-year in 2022, with double-digit growth into 2026, as global shipments exceed 50 million units that year. One explanation for this growth is the broader adoption of AR and VR by gamers, non-gamers and the commercial sector. IDC predicts the industry’s compound annual growth rate will exceed 35 percent by the end of 2026.

“Augmented reality headsets continue to represent a small fraction of the overall AR/VR headset market and the volumes we do see are happening almost exclusively on the commercial side of the business. Consumer AR is still largely the domain of smartphones and tablets and will likely remain so in the near term,” said Tom Mainelli, group vice president, Device & Consumer Research at IDC. 

AR is on the road to becoming a must-have for marketers, much like influencer marketing became indispensable to successful cross-channel marketing strategies in recent years. Emarketer expects ad revenues from AR marketing to reach $2.86 billion in 2022 and $6.68 billion in 2025–up from $1.98 billion currently. 

Thirty-five percent of marketers were leveraging AR or VR in their strategies in 2021. Of those marketers, 42 percent planned to increase their investment in 2022. And a tenth of those who didn’t leverage AR or VR in 2021 will experiment with it for the first time this year.

The overall AR/VR market is expected to grow to $252.16 billion by 2028, up almost $200 billion from 2021, according to a report by The Insight Partners. Some predictions go as high as $571 billion by 2025. The hardware alone will account for more than half of the projected spending.

Marketers looking to meet people where they are should keep a close eye on the space, as one emerging use case for AR/VR headsets is the metaverse.  The new digital environment will give brands new ways to engage customers through immersive experiences and shopping activations to highlight their latest products and services. Whether it’s shopping for a Gucci wearable for their avatar in the brand’s virtual plot of land in The Sandbox, bidding on artwork from Sotheby’s auction in Decentraland, or customizing skate shoes in Van’s Roblox skatepark

People are steadily warming up to the idea of shopping with AR, though it hasn’t become mainstream just yet. According to eMarketer’s October 2021 survey with Bizrate Insights, just 13 percent of US adults had ever used AR or VR to shop, up by 5 percentage points YOY. But 37 percent who hadn’t used AR or VR to shop before were at least somewhat interested in doing so.

Discussion of the metaverse is driving hype and investment around AR, VR and many adjacent technologies, but Maneilli doesn’t expect this insignificant behavior to impact headset volumes any time soon. 

Blurred Lines At MWC 2022: Augmented Reality In Everyday Life

Augmented reality has the ability to compile tons of data from digital devices and transform it into experiences people can view and interact with in the physical world. So far, the method has helped brands deepen experiences for sports fans, bring dance challenges to life and allow shoppers to try on makeup with their phones.

Already broad, the applications for AR are quickly expanding. At MWC Barcelona’s panel entitled “Blurred Lines: Augmented Reality in Everyday Life,” leaders from Avegant, Holo-Light, VMware and more discussed how AR can be used to improve safety, increase efficiency and deliver real business results.

Right now, most AR uses cases that operate via a network have to be done in a certain place and require a huge network infrastructure. Virtual reality and AR startup Holo-Light is working on overcoming this to increase the tech’s mobility and performance so that AR can be used anywhere, according to Holo-Light GmbH head of technology Philipp Landgraf. 

In December, Holo-Light announced it was building XRnow, the first immersive streaming platform designed for mass adoption of AR and VR applications on mobile devices. Like Netflix for AR and VR, the platform utilizes the power of the cloud to enable high-performance processing, on-demand access and global availability of AR and VR experiences.

The platform will allow companies to scale AR and VR use cases and showcase services and products in new ways. The example Landgraf gave is selling a car. Auto companies won’t always have all their models available in inventory but as AR becomes more developed, ray tracing—an intuitive image generation method—and algorithms can be used to create photo-realistic films showcasing a breadth of car models.

BMW already leverages Holo-Light’s AR engineering software 3S Pro to speed up design processes—from individual vehicle sections through complex production stages—by as much as 12 months. The regular computing power of mobile AR devices wouldn’t be able to power this use case because the individual parts of a car are detailed, complex and large in file size. But with the integration of Holo-Light’s in-house products AR3S and ISAR SDK (Interactive Streaming for Augmented Reality), BMW can visualize its 3D CAD (computer-aided design) models in very high quality and without any data preparation.

British telecom company BT has also has been participating in a few mixed reality projects lately, according to the company’s principal manager of mobile and 5G research team, Maria Cuevos. In February, it helped debut The Green Planet AR Experience, created by Factory 42 with BBC Studios. Upon entry, guests are given a mobile phone that helps immersive them in six plant worlds powered by BT’s mobile network EE 5G. David Attenborough, who’s in 3D hologram form, guides them through the journey.

“The biggest learning for us is to put [AR] in the hands of the people and see how they use it and how they experience the whole thing,” said Cuevos.

Just like smartphones and watches, AR devices will go through several iterations. Chief executive and founder Edward Tang’s startup Avegant creates display engines, or tiny projectors, for AR glasses that will power the next generation of these consumer glasses, he said. 

To increase consumer adoption of AR wearables, Tang emphasized the importance of sizing down AR glasses and getting them to feel exactly like everyday eyewear. Avegant’s current projector, he added, is smaller than the width of a pencil which enables the company to produce stylish and functional glasses while adding intelligence into the displays.

“The interest level and investments that we’re seeing from all the major consumer players is an order of magnitude above what we’ve seen even just a couple [of] years ago. We’re seeing a lot more momentum and the technologies are getting to a point where we can really check a lot of the boxes it’s going to take to make successful consumer products,” said Tang.

He believes the work being done with Meta Oculus, Android’s ARCore and iOS’ ARKit development kits, as well as the sensor tech being used in smartphones, are all a precursor for what’s to come on wearable type devices.

Looking ahead, Tang said it’s important industry players don’t try cramming a phone or computer experience into a pair of AR glasses. Instead, they should consider the uses cases for the glasses’ sensors and contextual information. Some of the uses he envisions for AR glasses include drawing a line on the ground while giving someone directions, leaving a restaurant review while looking at the restaurant and the glasses knowing its wearer wants to buy a product just by looking at it. 

From VMware, product line marketing manager Jessie Stoks said the biggest application for VR head-mounted wearables the company is seeing is for front-line workers including shift-based and service workers. Headsets deliver content hands-free in real-time to the worker, which is especially helpful for those in hazardous environments where quick access to a mobile device isn’t feasible, she said.

AR and VR headsets are also providing uninterrupted concentration to assembly line workers who may have a workstation but experience a lot of back and forth between the computer and whatever they’re working on. The result is greater productivity and less room for error, noted Stoks. These headsets are also streamlining remote training and collaboration as it’s easier to have the same view as the worker rather than guide them through emails or fly them out for training.

MWC 2022: Maximizing The Social And Economic Impact Of Mobile Connectivity

Despite the progress made in mobile connectivity, the pandemic widened the digital divide between the haves and have-nots. Today 450 million people, or 6 percent of the world’s population, don’t have a way of connecting to a mobile device, an issue commonly referred to as the coverage gap. And about 3 billion people do have access to mobile broadband networks yet still aren’t connected, a phenomenon known as the usage gap. Closing this usage gap will be key to achieving digital inclusion. 

During a panel on day one of MWC Barcelona, leaders from UNDP, Orange, GMSA and EY explored the current state of digital inclusion and why C-suite buy-in, the development of standard industry metrics and a multi-stakeholder approach are all needed to bridge the digital divide and accelerate the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as established by the United National General Assembly in 2015.

The mobile industry has long been recognized as a key enabler of social and economic improvement. Network coverage globally was expanded to more than a billion additional people between 2015 and 2019, as noted by the panel’s moderator Adrian Baschnonga, lead analyst for global telecommunications at EY. In addition, the mobile industry has achieved half of its potential contribution across 17 SDGs, up from 33 percent in 2015.

Yet connectivity and the availability of infrastructure alone don’t guarantee device and service affordability, digital literacy and technology skills, all of which can help increase levels of digital inclusion. With so many basic services necessary for everyday living available online like public transformation, health and education, it’s becoming as vital to be digitally literate as it is to know how to read and write, according to Antoine de Clerck, Orange societal responsibility animation director of CSR.

“Promoting more digital is simply a question of sustainability. We cannot be sustainable in the long term if half of the world’s population is excluded from using these basic services. It’s in our core business to make sure we operate in an inclusive way,” said de Clerck.

In Europe, a 24 percent usage gap exists, which means people who are connected and who might even use a smartphone still aren’t using digital services such as looking for a job online or buying a train ticket online, said de Clerck.

One way Orange is bringing affordable devices and skills to people is through the opening of digital centers in every country in which it operates. De Clerck notes that many of its employees volunteer at these centers to provide skills to vulnerable people which provides a lot of value to Orange employees.

At the start of the pandemic, about 3.7 billion people, or 45 percent of the global population, were unconnected in the world, ITU data shows. In the last couple of years, that figure dropped by another 800 million people. While that signals progress, 2.9 billion people, or a third of the world’s population, remain without access to the internet. Reasons for this include a lack of broadband coverage or other barriers such as a lack of awareness of the internet and its benefits, lack of perceived relevance and safety and security concerns.

Robert Opp, UNDP chief digital officer, said he and his team have started to think beyond matters of connectivity and infrastructure to look at the digital divide in a more holistic way.

“If we’re going to achieve the SDGs and get back on track to the SDGs—because they all took a hit as a result of COVID—we’re going to need to bridge the digital divide. It needs to be a holistic, multi-sectorial approach. It needs to be one that has people at the center,” Opp said.

During the course of just one year, UNDP assisted 82 countries to adopt over 580 digital solutions in response to the pandemic. Recently it released a new, three-pronged digital strategy that aims to help countries reap the benefits of digital technology.

As GSMA has observed, environmental, social and governance (ESG) is becoming a criterion at the heart of decision-making for investors, said Alix Jagueneau, GSMA head of external affairs and industry purpose.

“I don’t think the investor communities fully understand what’s critical to this industry, so there’s probably a lot of education and awareness-raising to be done . . . Metrics are only a means to an end, it’s not just for reporting purposes. The more we can start talking about that and engage in those discussions, the more it’s going to lead to a change,” said Jagueneau.

The World Economic Forum’s call for companies to disclose metrics beyond financial performance in its book Stakeholder Capitalism offers the mobile industry guidance on how to begin implementing its own measurement tools.  

Jagueneau added that GSMA has started to work with a group of operators with a focus on three areas: digital inclusion, e-waste to decarbonize the industry and digital human rights to ensure privacy, freedom of expression and child online safety.

What digital inclusion still lacks are standardized metrics. Opp said UNDP has started collecting best practices and examples of what is and isn’t working around how businesses can put SDG-related impact at the core of their strategy in ESG.

De Clerck echoed that sentiment, noting that the usage gap can’t be addressed by a single company. In the same way companies have used climate change as a north star metric, he calls on mobile operators to unify their work to create a standard metric for measuring digital inclusion.

In addition to engaging resources to quantify digital inclusion efforts, getting buy-in from the C-suite to make ESG a core business strategy will be critical for maximizing the social and economic impact of mobile connectivity, said Jagueneau.

MWC 2022: The Connectivity Challenges Of Building The Metaverse

Meta (formerly Facebook) has invested billions in connectivity worldwide over the last decade and recently announced that its subsea cable investments in Europe and APAC could potentially contribute to over half a trillion USD in additional gross domestic product by 2025.

Now the company is tackling the connectivity challenges in reimagining network infrastructure to support the metaverse, Meta vice president Dan Rabinovitsj said in a blog. Delivering virtual experiences in the metaverse will require innovations in fields like hybrid local and remote real-time rendering, video compression, edge computing, cross-layer visibility, spectrum advocacy, network optimizations, improved latency between devices and within radio access networks (RANs) and more.

Meta plans to build several prototypes of the metaverse to fully understand how to blend virtual content with people’s physical worlds. In the meantime, it’s looking for collaborators to help fully realize its metaverse vision. Rabinovitsj writes:

“Over the next decade, we hope the metaverse will reach a billion people around the world, host hundreds of billions of dollars of digital commerce, and support millions of jobs for creators and developers. This opportunity calls for vast enhancements in capacity and fundamental shifts in how networks are architected and deployed, as well as industry-wide collaboration—from tech companies to mobile operators, service providers, policymakers, and more—to prepare for the metaverse.”

First up, Rabinovitsj explains how Meta has to reduce latency so that complex graphical scenes in the metaverse don’t take hours to download over current networks. To meet the tight latency constraints, the company sees remote rendering over edge cloud, or some form of hybrid between local and remote rendering, playing a greater role in the near future.

 “Enabling remote rendering will require both fixed and mobile networks to be rearchitected to create compute resources at a continuum of distances to end-users,” said Rabinovitsj.

Another challenge that lies ahead is providing consistent quality immersive experiences. A head-mounted display sitting close to the eyes will require retina-grade resolutions of much larger magnitude than a standard smartphone screen. To solve this issue, innovations across the hardware and software stack “as well as revolutionary improvements in network throughput,” will be needed, according to Rabinovitsj.

At Mobile World Congress (MWC) Barcelona, Meta said it plans to collaborate with the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) and partners to define the performance requirements for delivering great end-user experiences in the metaverse.

Meta is working with Telefónica to create a Metaverse Innovation Hub in Madrid where local startups and developers can access a “groundbreaking 5G laboratory.” There they’ll be able to utilize a metaverse end-to-end testbed on Meta and Telefónica’s network infrastructure and equipment, plus benefit from Telefónica’s open innovation ecosystem and Meta’s engineering resources.

Also at MWC, HTC chairwoman Cher Wang unveiled what a day in the life of the company’s metaverse world Viveverse—which will utilize HTC’s Vive virtual reality (VR) headsets—would look like. Viveverse, she said, would be a safe and secure space where kids and adults alike could customize, collaborate and have fun doing things like work out at the gym and go to virtual concerts.

In addition, HTC Vive debuted Vive Guardian, a new privacy and safety feature that lets parents limit access to apps and purchases while in-headset.

NBC Today Show Teams With Ad Council For She Can STEM Super Bowl Spot

Among the celeb-filled and comically irreverent ads that aired on Super Bowl Sunday, one stood out for its important message to the next generation of scientists, computer programmers, biochemists, web developers and other STEM professionals.

NBC’s Today Show debuted a public service ad (PSA) featuring the show’s anchors to encourage girls, non-binary youth and trans youth to pursue their interests in STEM. Part of the She Can STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) campaign, the 30-second spot was created by Deloitte Digital together with Ad Council and If/Then.

It opens with Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb in the Today Show studio saying bye to their virtual show guests – Karina Popovich, chief executive of Makers for Change; Mitu Khandaker, chief executive of Glow Up Games; and Tiffany Kelly, founder and chief executive of Curastory. All three women are STEM role models from the AAAS If/Then Ambassadors Program.

After a rueful Guthrie says, “I wish they had those cool kinds of careers when we were growing up,” we’re taken back in time to her classroom in the ‘70s where she and fellow anchors Kotb, Al Roker, Craig Melvin and Carson Daly are students. When the teacher asks what everyone wants to be when they grow up, young female classmates name careers you can pursue through STEM, with responses ranging from “I want to make immersive video games” to “I want to analyze data from the cloud.”

Like the spot’s closing message notes, STEM has come a long way. Still, women make up half of the total college-educated workforce in the US yet they only account for 27 percent of the STEM workforce. Research shows that many girls lose interest in STEM as early as middle school, a path that continues through high school and college and ultimately leads to an underrepresentation of women in STEM careers.

“If you’re watching television and you see role models who look like you doing groundbreaking work, you begin to believe, `If she can do it, then I can do it,” said Lyda Hill, founder of Lyda Hill Philanthropies and the If/Then Initiative.

Since Ad Council launched She Can STEM in 2018, the campaign has aimed to dispel stereotypes that discourage girls from joining STEM careers and inspire them to explore and stay in STEM. By sharing stories of role models who have influenced technologies that impact our lives today and providing educational resources to kickstart their path in STEM, Ad Council helps girls see themselves in these industries and prepares them for their own STEM journeys.

NBCUniversal donated airtime for the spot to air twice on Super Bowl. Before and after game day, the Today Show featured the PSA in two segments, including a behind-the-scenes “making of” segment with the anchors, and a segment with Mitu Khandaker discussing her experience as a STEM role model and the importance of women in STEM. 

The spot will be distributed to NBCUniversal stations nationwide for future airings throughout 2022. NBCUniversal is also featuring content about the PSA and the importance of STEM for girls on today.com.

To learn more about She Can STEM, click here and follow @shecanstem.