Last Month Today October 2023 in review

Europe’s firms navigate investment challenges amid tightening financial conditions and climate change

According to the new European Investment Bank (EIB) Investment Survey (EIBIS) 2023 released at the World Bank IMF Annual Meetings, European firms are facing challenges amid pressing investment needs and increasingly stringent financial conditions across the region.

Companies have accelerated investments in energy efficiency, with 51% of EU firms investing in this area in the past year, thus responding to the energy price shock. Firms confirmed the crucial role played by internal finance buffers and policy support in sustaining investment levels. At the same time, 64% of firms have experienced losses due to climate change (7 percentage points more than the previous year). Only about half of those firms, however, are taking action to build climate resilience and only 13% are insured for physical risk protection.

Despite the prevailing uncertainties, the 13 000 businesses interviewed by the Bank in mid-2023 reveal that corporate investment has remained resilient across the European Union so far. The share of EU firms that have invested in the past year has returned to pre-pandemic levels, with investment per employee witnessing a further increase. This positive result was driven by firms’ recognition of the urgent need for structural transformation and buffers accumulated in recent years.

EIB Vice-President Ricardo Mourinho Felix said: “The EIBIS 2023 underscores the resilience of European firms in the face of evolving challenges. It is encouraging to see their continued commitment to investment amidst tightening financial conditions. What is also striking about this report is that majority of businesses report that they have been affected by climate change. It is essential for policymakers and stakeholders to recognize the pressing need for targeted support measures to sustain and stimulate investment as well as to help them build climate resilience.”

Supply chains turn to technology to navigate economic volatility and battle for talent

The 28th Annual Third-Party Logistics Study, created by supply chain professor and researcher Dr. C. John Langley of Penn State University, along with NTT DATA and Penske Logistics, examined how supply chains are navigating today’s challenges through the adoption of data-driven approaches and emerging technologies. The study surveyed third-party logistics (3PL) providers and users of 3PL services to understand the current state of 3PLs, how 3PL relationships are evolving, the increasing flow of data and the growing importance of automation.

The key findings of the study suggest that the relations between 3PLs and shippers continue to strengthen and battle for talent is increasing. In addition, data, analytics, and intelligence are increasingly driving supply chain optimization. While this emerging technology adoption is vital for future growth, also improving supply chain resiliency is a priority for both shippers and 3PLs.

“The 3PL sector continues to face a number of externalities, and providers of logistics services are focused on improving logistics effectiveness and reducing overall supply chain costs,” Dr. Langley said. “3PLs and their customers are leveraging their relationships along with technology, data, analytics and supply chain talent to increase agility and enhance success.”

Dr. Langley’s research continues to capture and measure this evolving industry and document the transformation of the third-party logistics sector as new challenges and opportunities emerge.

Redefining retail with AI: Info-Tech Research Group publishes Generative AI Use Case Library

Info-Tech Research Group has published its comprehensive collection of use cases, entitled Generative AI Use Case Library for the Retail and Wholesale Industry. The revolutionary technology of generative artificial intelligence (AI) offers unparalleled opportunities for the retail and wholesale sector, which is under immense pressure to quickly implement robust AI solutions that not only create value for internal stakeholders but also provide customers with an exceptional experience.

However, the situation has left IT leaders grappling with determining the best starting point for their organizations to start the AI journey. To help navigate this challenge, the firm’s new comprehensive resource aims to assist retailers in identifying value-driven generative AI use cases that can truly transform their organizations.

“The new era of generative artificial intelligence (AI) in the retail and wholesale sector brings unprecedented opportunities for enterprises, both big and small, to revolutionize customer experiences, drive innovation, enhance operations, and unlock new levels of growth via cost and competitiveness. For the retail and wholesale sector, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” says Rahul Jaiswal, principal research director at Info-Tech Research Group. “Embedding generative AI into the digital core of an enterprise will change the ability of the enterprise to optimize operations, manage information, generate quicker insights, innovate with new experiences, augment front-line workers, and connect and communicate with customers.”

The broad and diverse nature of AI, highlighted by Info-Tech’s research and use cases, presents both a world of opportunities and challenges in pinpointing its most effective application within an enterprise. Beyond just implementation, the governance of AI presents its own set of difficulties, for which IT leaders must bear the responsibility.

FIDO Alliance study reveals growing demand for password alternatives as AI-fueled phishing attacks rise

The FIDO Alliance published its third annual Online Authentication Barometer, which gathers insights into the state of online authentication in ten countries across the globe.

New to the Barometer this year, FIDO Alliance has begun tracking consumer perception of threats and scams online in a bid to understand anticipated threat levels globally. 54% of people have noticed an increase in suspicious messages and scams online, while 52% believe these have become more sophisticated.

Threats are seen to be active across several channels, but primarily email, SMS messages, social media, and fake phone or voicemails. The increased accessibility of generative AI tools is a likely driver of this rise in scams and phishing threats. Tools like FraudGPT and WormGPT, which have been created and shared on the dark web explicitly for use in cybercrime, have made crafting compelling social engineering attacks far simpler, more sophisticated, and easier to do at scale. Deepfake voice and video are also being used to bolster social engineering attacks, tricking people into thinking they are talking to a known trusted person.

Andrew Shikiar, Executive Director and CMO of the FIDO Alliance, commented: “Phishing is still by far the most used and effective cyberattack technique, which means passwords are vulnerable regardless of their complexity. With highly accessible generative AI tools now offering bad actors the means to make more convincing and scalable attacks, it’s imperative consumers and service providers listen to consumers and start to look at non-phishable and frictionless solutions like passkeys and on-device biometrics more readily available, rather than iterating on ultimately flawed legacy authentication like passwords and OTPs.”


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