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The best thing about being a biz-tech writer

Variety is the spice of life. One of the best things about being a business technology writer is the range of subjects you get to investigate. Every white paper, case study or brochure uncovers a wealth of fascinating facts and data. It’s a bit like having a crystal ball that can see five years into the future. From exploring the oceans to streaming soccer in Brazil, this month has been no exception. Here are five snippets from my notebook in October.

1. Heating and lighting consume less power than electric motors.

From cordless power tools to the largest industrial equipment, electric motors account for approximately 50 percent of the world’s electricity consumption. Retrofitting large industrial motors with power saving devices can reduce their consumption by 40 percent. Finance managers nervously looking at their balance sheets can sleep easy knowing that new equipment can be installed based on a zero-capex model.

2. Ocean exploration is worth three times as much as space exploration

Less than a quarter of the ocean floor has been mapped, giving it huge potential to support a marine-based economy that could be worth $3 trillion by 2030. Compare that with space exploration estimated at $1 trillion by 2040. And while oceans cover 71% of the world’s surface, they account for 98.5 percent of its habitable volume. Smart start-ups are using a fleet of underwater drones to explore the depths and create a valuable source of open ocean data.

3. Converting a live broadcast to an on-demand episode: A lot harder than you think

How do you take a live Formula One broadcast and make it available on catch-up?  The workflow is hugely complicated involving multiple video formats, the removal of ads and decisions about where to host the content. Most broadcasting platforms, with a mix of live and on-demand content, invest heavily in software that automates the process. Payback comes by way of additional viewers gained by making the race available just minutes after the chequered flag.

4. Online retailers spend months stress testing systems in advance of Black Friday

If the sound of Christmas carols in October makes you anxious, spare a thought for the tech teams who keep online retailers running during the Black Friday stampede. There’s more to this than making sure websites don’t fall over under the weight of traffic. A single customer request can generate thousands of calls across sales and logistics systems, all of which must be resilient enough to withstand the load. No wonder some stores start testing their infrastructure in the middle of the August.  

5. Broadcasters continue to take a big hit from illegal soccer streaming

In the U.K., 47 percent of soccer fans have watched a match through an unofficial provider. 36 percent of fans reported to doing this monthly and 22% at least once a week. Broadcasters are trying to block illegal streaming sights by broadcasting from edge computer networks and issuing personalized tokens to paid subscribers. There’s a generation gap too. 65 percent of those aged 18-34 have illegally streamed football in the last month, twice as much as those aged 35-54 (33 percent).

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