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Swedish tech trendspotting: predictions for 2018

As the year draws to a close, The Local catches up with a panel of industry insiders to hear their predictions about what digital developments will be making headlines in Sweden in 2018.

Swedish tech trendspotting: predictions for 2018
Photo: Pixabay

2017 will clearly be a year to remember when it comes to developments on the Swedish data center and tech scene. Not least for being the year Amazon Web Services decided to set up shop in Sweden and Google acquired the largest plot of land in Avesta as a potential data center location.

This of course begs the question: what’s in store for 2018?

For answers, we pulled together our network of data center and tech sector experts. Here’s what they had to say:

 

Mark Thiele, CIO/CSO

Apcera

AI and machine learning combine with IoT to create hundreds of new solutions.

The acceleration of growth in cloud and online services, combined with trends like blockchain, AR, IoT, AI, and machine learning will mean huge data center demand in 2018. In addition, 5G wireless and other supporting technologies will really begin to demonstrate significant and new business model opportunities, especially at the edge.

Pay attention to this in 2018: The entire IT market will nearly double by 2022 so we can expect to see a threefold-growth of cloud and the associated data center footprint globally by then.

 

Darren Mowry, Managing Director, Business Development

Amazon Web Services EMEA

Sweden as 'Cloud Nation'

The pace of digital transformation within large enterprises will increase, meaning we'll start seeing mass migrations to the cloud. Sweden is well-prepared, but needs to continue to innovate and take a leading role within the EU as a tech-savvy role model. Sweden should grab the opportunity to transform itself into a 'Cloud Nation' — where cloud adoption is easy and supported by a cloud-friendly framework backed by the government.

Pay attention to this in 2018: 2018 will be the year machine learning and AI breakthrough in all kinds of industries, and the cloud will be the catalyst for this breakthrough.

 

Hélène Barnekow, CEO

Telia Sweden

Edge computing. 

The announcement that AWS will build three new data centers in Sweden, just a few months after Telia opened Backbone North, means we’ll see even more data center investment in Sweden during 2018. I also believe 2018 will be a year of more intense VR/AR application development. And I think people will be talking a lot about edge computing in 2018 as an increase in the number of demanding applications requires storage much closer to the user to ensure an optimal user experience.

 

Magnus Melander, Evangelist

THINGS Stockholm

Hardware is back!

Swedish manufacturing will strike back in 2018 and take the lead in digital transformation and smart sustainable factories by mastering collaboration with startups and going from POCs to deployment. The perception that Sweden is a great place for IoT-enabled digital transformation will attract more foreign companies and investors.

Pay attention to this in 2018: The UN's Responsible Consumption and Production goal calls for immediate action from all of us, both individually and collectively.

 

Joachim Karthauser, CTO

Climeon AB

E-mobility.

Finding the lowest possible carbon footprint and best environmental performance for data centers will be key selection criteria in 2018 and beyond, as energy demands for internet use starts to exceed the energy demand of air traffic. We can expect to hear more about e-mobility in 2018 too. And the transport sector has to change – so we will see an exponential increase in electric cars that will require building new infrastructure.

Pay attention to this in 2018: People will follow the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere and demand political action, such as more support for renewable energy.

 

READ MORE: Capturing the data center opportunity

 

Fredrik Lind, Senior Partner & Managing Director

Boston Consulting Group

Ethics and sustainability. The world needs more and tech is no exception.

2018 should be the year when we establish digital infrastructure as a core priority for Sweden. Swedish tech will move the global digital needle much further next year, with a number of new companies entering the global multinational tech elite, joining forces with established Swedish success stories like Spotify, Klarna, and King. Also, AI use cases, blockchain enabled technologies, IoT applications, and AR will be mainstream by the end of 2018, becoming natural components in our daily lives.

Pay attention to this in 2018: E-Intensity and e-GDP for nations; specifically China, Singapore, and Taiwan, are overtaking Europe in both absolute and relative terms when it comes to the digitization of their economies.

 

Anne Graf, CEO

Hydro66

Blockchain infrastructure.

Decentralised technologies such as blockchain will be game changers for financial markets, the supply chain, healthcare, the regulatory environment, and many other areas. There is no doubt 2018 will see a huge amount of hype, news, and actual innovation in the blockchain space. Thus, in 2018 we’ll need to grapple further with how to host blockchain infrastructure in a way that makes economic and environmental sense.

Pay attention to this in 2018:  In 2017, the total market cap of cryptocurrencies grew from $17.7 billion to $413 billion, so there will be a lot of blockchain hype in 2018, which means we'll need a sustainable approach to hosting blockchain infrastructure.

 

READ MORE: Mining the future: Why Sweden is leading the cryptocurrency revolution

 

Mattias Fridström, VP & Chief Evangelist

Telia Carrier

New e-commerce giants like AWS will fuel local markets and make them more important.

The establishment of Amazon in Sweden is going to be the biggest development in the country in 2018. I believe it will cause the market for putting applications or storage on the cloud to really take off. We’ll also start seeing 5G installations in Sweden in 2018, and Sweden will serve as an important testing ground to see what might be useful moving forward.

Pay attention to this in 2018: They say the internet “weighs 50 grams”. But it is increasing in importance. In 2018 the internet will move at an even faster pace from Business Critical to Life Critical.

 

Looking for a place to store your data? Start your site exploration here

 

Mattias Ganslandt, CEO & President

Multigrid Data Centers

Cloud first!

In 2018, we will see the rise of hyperscale cloud computing in Sweden based on globally competitive and sustainable energy solutions. Technical innovations and new business models should result in “creative destruction” and the expansion of exports based on various IT-as-a-Service offerings produced in a new breed of extremely productive facilities.

Pay attention to this in 2018: In the next three years wind power generation in Sweden is predicted to increase by 5 TWh (or 5 billion kWh). That means enough renewable energy to run 3 million cloud servers at full load for a year.

 

Patrik Öhlund, CEO

Node Pole

Data Center as a Service (DCaaS).

I expect blockchain to become more mature in 2018, which will lead to a broader array of industrial applications based on the technology. The global growth in robotics, AI, deep learning, etc., will also increase global demand for high-performance computing (HPC) capacity. And expect to hear more about “DataCenter as a Service (DCaaS)” — as IT becomes more strategically important, the focus on data centers will shift from providing infrastructure to providing on-demand functions and services.

Pay attention to this in 2018: The Internet of Things consumer product market is predicted to grow by 34 percent in 2018. That is likely to be adjusted upwards…

 

Tor Björn Minde, CEO 

RISE SICS North AB

Machine learning.

I expect the Open Compute Project (OCP) to take center stage in 2018. It’s going to start affecting servers used in both data center co-location and other enterprises. I also think the roll out of Ericsson’s 5G will trigger more developments in Sweden when it comes to edge data centers. 

Pay attention to this in 2018: We'll create 180 zettabytes – or 180 trillion gigabytes – of data in 2025, up from just 10 zettabytes in 2015.

 

READ MORE: Discover Data Centers by Sweden

 

Johan Börje, Head of Marketing

Stockholm Data Parks

Clean power.

In 2018, three trends will drive an explosion of data center establishments in Sweden: the unprecedented growth of blockchain applications; Sweden will become the industry norm following the establishment of AWS; and third, mounting pressure to improve the environmental profile of data centers will drive general data processing to Sweden to benefit from low CO2 footprint and heat recovery. 

Pay attention to this in 2018: IEA presents a scenario where worldwide renewable capacity will increase by nearly 90 percent between 2017 and 2022.

 

Linus Axelsson, Marketing Manager

IP-Only

Internet of Things (IoT).

IT and digitalisation must be the core of every company's business strategy. Collecting and using data, working agile and efficiently, communicating internally and externally through IT systems and online will be necessary from now on. To succeed with this, it all comes down to having the right IT infrastructure and environment to keep up with the digital revolution.

 

Tomas Sokolnicki, Head of Data Centers by Sweden

Business Sweden

Edgeification.

Previously, new segments typically emerged one by one. We are now at the cusp of massive data growth, driven by simultaneous explosions of data from the cloud, AI, streaming, VR/AR, IoT, connected cars, and sensors. From big data to huge data! We'll also see the systematic roll-out of edge computing on a scale never before attempted and driven by e-mobility.

Pay attention to this in 2018: Will Apple or Amazon become the first $1 trillion company? Technology companies dominate in terms of market cap, and China is now second only to the US in terms of market cap of Top 100 companies.

This article was produced by The Local Client Studio and sponsored by Data Centers by Sweden.

SHOPPING

The unmanned supermarkets rescuing Sweden’s rural areas

One after another, grocery stores are shutting down in rural Sweden, leaving villagers to travel miles to buy food. But a new type of shop has sprung up in their wake: unmanned supermarkets in mobile containers.

The unmanned supermarkets rescuing Sweden's rural areas
Store manager Domenica Gerlach enters the Lifvs unmanned supermarket store in Veckholm, 80km outside Stockholm. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand /AFP

In Veckholm, a village of a few hundred people 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Stockholm, the last grocery store closed more than a decade ago. Then, a year-and-a-half ago, even the little convenience store at the only petrol station locked its doors.

Villagers were left with no choice but to travel a half-hour by car to the closest supermarket.

But in July 2020, an automated, unmanned grocery store came to town. In a container dropped in the middle of a field, open 24 hours a day, the 20-square-metre (215-square-foot) supermarket sells hundreds of items — and there’s no cashier in sight.

“Since a while back, there has been nothing in this area and I think most of us living here have really missed that,” said Giulia Ray, a beekeeper in
Veckholm. 

“It’s so convenient to have this in the area,” she told AFP, doing her own shopping and restocking the shop’s shelves with her honey at the same time.

Shoppers unlock the supermarket’s door with an app on their smartphone. “We come here three times a week and buy stuff we need,” Lucas Edman, a technician working in the region for a few weeks, told AFP. “It’s a little bit more expensive but it’s fine. It’s a price I can pay to not go to another store.”

He scanned his pizzas and soda on the app on his phone, which is linked to his bank account and a national identification system — an added anti-theft security, according to the store. And it’s all done under the watchful eye of a single security camera.

Keeping costs down

In Sweden, the number of grocery stores — everything from superstores to small convenience stores — has dropped from 7,169 in 1996 to 5,180 in 2020, according to official statistics.

While the number of superstores has almost tripled in 24 years, many rural shops have closed down, often due, like elsewhere in Europe, to a lack of
profitability.

Daniel Lundh, who co-founded the Lifvs, has opened almost 30 unmanned stores in rural Sweden and in urban areas with no shops in the past two years.

“To be able to keep low prices for the customer, we have to be able to control our operation costs. So that means controlling the rent — that’s why
the stores are quite small — but also controlling the staffing cost,” Lundh said.

He plans to open his first unstaffed supermarkets outside Sweden early next year.

Domenica Gerlach, who manages the Veckholm store, only comes by once a week to receive deliveries. She also manages three other shops, all of them mobile containers.

Peter Book, the mayor of Enkoping, the municipality to which Veckholm belongs, has only good things to say about the three container stores that
have opened in his patch. And he’d like to see more.

“It makes it easier to take a step to move there if you know you have this facility,” he said.

Meeting place and ‘salvation’

In Sweden, one of the most digitalised countries in the world, Lifvs, like its Swedish rivals AutoMat and 24Food which have also popped up in rural
areas, benefits from a very wired population.

In 2019, 92 percent of Swedes had a smartphone. Ironically, the unmanned shops — plopped down in the middle of nowhere — also play a role as a “meeting place” for locals.

“You come here, you get some gas and you go inside and get something, and maybe someone else is here and you can have a chat,” Ray said.
Mayor Book echoed the notion, saying the stores make it possible to connect society”.

The pandemic has also proven the stores’ usefulness, since no contact with other people inside the shop is necessary.

Because of Covid-19, only one person at a time is allowed inside the Veckholm store.

“My mother lives nearby as well and … this has been a shop she could actually enter during all this time. She hasn’t been (able to go) anywhere,”
Ray said of her 75-year-old mother. “This has been a salvation for her.”

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