IBM deploys AI in talent retention bid (The Week in AI)

IBM deploys AI in talent retention bid (The Week in AI)

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Technology giant IBM, which reportedly receives up to 8,000 job applications a day, has uncovered a method of discovering whether employees are seeking to leave the firm accurately using AI. While CEO Ginni Rometty was quite coded in explaining how this operates, she was adamant that success of the programme was proven given the scale upon which it has been deployed. IBM’s predictive attrition technology alerts managers to engage with employees and address concerns before they may make a decision on leaving.

The AI has so far reportedly saved IBM nearly $300 million in retention costs, which according to Ms Rometty also believes AI could reduce companies’ human resources operations.

Questions might be raised among the IBM labour pool, however, about what the “many data points” used by the system entail. It all sounds quite benign, but could businesses use it to weed out employees they don’t see as committed? Does it constitute an invasion of privacy and “monitoring” of employees which in several jurisdictions and contexts can be illegal even on company issued IT equipment? As ever, the promise of the technology is also accompanied with ethical questions and reputational issues.

News in Brief:

Around Whitehall:

Four leading-edge demonstrators to jumpstart energy revolution

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has announced four smart energy systems demonstrator projects across the UK in efforts to improve energy innovation together with providing cheaper, cleaner energy for users. The Energy Superhub Oxford, which is one of the four projects being supported by the University of Oxford will use cloud hosted software and AI powered software to forecast energy demand and management of battery degradation in social housing.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/four-leading-edge-demonstrators-to-jumpstart-energy-revolution

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Why talk of a system based on 100% renewables does more damage than good

Why talk of a system based on 100% renewables does more damage than good

Written by Evan Byrne, Account Manager in Madano’s Energy practice.

Did you hear the good news? It turns out climate change is actually really easy to solve. If we move to a system with 100% renewables we’ll have solved the problem.

Some British and American politicians have recently latched onto this major revelation. They’ve proposed this be adopted as actual energy policy with some quick fixes for the minor problem of economic and social inequality thrown in for good measure (see Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal).

As that insurance Meerkat say, simples!

This reflects the way politics has gone. Incredibly naïve or if I’m being cynical deliberately manipulative and calculating politicians gunning for votes offer a nice, cushy, easy solution to a complex problem to an electorate that is ill-informed on the realities of an issue.

Let’s review some recent examples:

‘Let’s just exit the EU, that’ll solve everything’

‘Let’s just build a wall, that’ll stop illegal immigration’

‘Let’s just spend some more money, that’ll end economic inequality and poverty’

‘Let’s just nationalise the railways, that’ll make the trains better’

And on and on it goes. All sides are guilty, peddling ‘pie in the sky’ thinking on a complex issue to provide an easy answer in the hope of votes. Voters don’t like complexity, they like ‘on-demand’ solutions.

In the fight against climate change this has materialised into a simple solution: 100% renewable energy. While a nice soundbite, unfortunately the physics behind energy generation don’t change.

A 40% renewable system (let alone a 100%) wouldn’t work.

Our grid is a century old. It wasn’t designed for volatile and intermittent renewables and at present can realistically only handle a certain penetration of renewable generation. Continue to pile more renewables onto the system and that will lead to rolling and regular blackouts, as happened in the well documented case of South Australia.

Even if someone did find an entirely new grid lying around that solves this problem, and then managed to install it, there remains the intermittency issue.

When the wind isn’t blowing, and the sun isn’t shining, there is no generation. Simples! One could argue that renewable energy simply isn’t necessarily the best way of generating large amounts of energy full stop, at least compared to more energy dense alternatives.

The obvious advantage of renewable options is that they have low carbon emissions and are therefore good for the climate. But if you were to rely entirely on renewables to generate either all, or a sizeable majority of your energy capacity, you must go big in order to compensate for the intermittency and energy density issues.

In the case of wind and solar, this means that farms must become larger, in terms of sq. footage. But even stretched over many acres, these sites might still not produce anything like the level of reliable energy generated from conventional power plants that might typically use considerably less real estate.

That is not to say that renewables will not play an essential role in our future energy system. Decentralised, locally installed (such as rooftop solar) and distributed renewable energy will almost certainly form an important part of the future energy mix, specifically helping to reduce cost to consumers and demand on the grid. This will be important in the context of soaring global electricity demand if we decarbonise transport and heating by moving to electrified systems.

In my view, reliable, baseload energy, which will ultimately have to come from nuclear power, or conventional energy (i.e. fossil fuel) with some sort of carbon capture, will be necessary. Our lives and businesses are dependent on ‘on-demand’ energy. A 100% renewables system would not be able to provide for our current needs, and moving to one would mean we would have to change our ways of living, adapting to the use of less energy in total, and less reliable energy day to day (i.e. the end of on-demand energy).

Turns out, tackling climate change is not ‘simples’. But a good first step – the essential first step – in the fight against it, is for vote-chasing politicians to stop peddling nonsensical, easy solutions. Energy ultimately is driven by hard science. You cannot democratise hard science, or just ignore it, in the pursuit of the most popular solution.

Either politicians must start to recognise publicly that our way of life is dependent on ‘on-demand’ energy – which renewables cannot provide – or admit the move to such a system would irrevocably change our world, (a change people may not support).

In order to truly win the fight against climate change, our leaders must at least start to communicate the challenges properly first.

Madano advises clients across the energy and industry sector space – if you’re interested in learning more please drop me or the team a line. You can also follow Madano on Twitter.

AVENIR GLOBAL Continues to Build Global Powerhouse of Specialist Communications Firms with Acquisition of Hanover

AVENIR GLOBAL Continues to Build Global Powerhouse of Specialist Communications Firms with Acquisition of Hanover

AVENIR GLOBAL, a Montreal-based holding and management company of public relations and communications firms, today announced that it has acquired Hanover, a top 10 independent U.K. public relations consultancy with offices in London, Brussels, Dublin, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

With the acquisition of Hanover, AVENIR GLOBAL consists of 1,000 employees in 25 locations across North America, Europe and the Middle East. Its annualized revenue of £125M should place the firm in the top 15 worldwide public relations agency ranking.

This transaction is part of a strategic plan to build a global powerhouse of specialist communications firms delivering outstanding value to clients. Together with the November 2018 acquisition of London-based healthcare creative agency, Cherry, the deal significantly enhances AVENIR GLOBAL’s EMEA offering. The group was already represented in the region by healthcare communications firm AXON Communications, with offices in London, Copenhagen, Zug, Brighton, New York and Toronto, and by its strategic communications consultancy Madano Partnership.

“We are building a powerful network of colleagues who are the best in their field and our goal is to provide our clients with bold thinking founded on research, insights and deep sector expertise. Hanover is hugely respected as one of the best and fastest growing agencies in the world and this transaction showcases our ambitions. In addition to an enhanced geographic footprint, there is a strong cultural alignment, which is critical to our teams working well together,” said Ralph Sutton, International Managing Partner of AVENIR GLOBAL.

“Hanover focuses on communications and public affairs disciplines which are key to our network, in addition to deep sectoral expertise in healthcare, financial services, technology, media, energy, fast-moving consumer goods, industrials and sport. The combined business in the U.K. places us among the country’s largest public relations consultancies; second in public affairs and first in healthcare.”

Founded in London in 1998 by CEO Charles Lewington, Hanover is one of Europe’s leading strategic communications and public affairs consultancies with 163 employees, advising global companies on building recognition and enhancing reputation. Clients include Goldman Sachs, Airbus, Microsoft, Apple, Warner Media, Sky, Lucozade Ribena Suntory, Premier League, Tata Steel, Lilly, Novartis, BMS, Roche and Takeda. The Hanover Group also includes creative communications agency The Playbook, and Multiple, a brand and culture consultancy that enables technology challengers and corporate change-makers to define their purpose, fire up their people and build platforms for growth. The agency’s leadership team will remain in place following the transaction.

AVENIR GLOBAL has 300 healthcare communications staff harnessing expertise in public relations, reputation management, crisis and issues management, medical communications, clinical trial support, marketing communications, public affairs, market access and internal communications. The firm works for many of the largest names in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries as well as working with healthcare providers, technology firms and patient advocacy organisations.

Other sectors where the combined group will have particular strength on both sides of the Atlantic include food and drink, energy and financial services, and the communications disciplines of reputation management, public affairs and issues and crisis management.

“AVENIR GLOBAL provided a strong business case for joining forces to create an unrivalled worldwide team of specialist communications firms. We share a common belief in building a high degree of client service and expertise,” said Charles Lewington.

“By joining the AVENIR GLOBAL network, we broaden our offering in insights and research, add impressive resources in creative and digital campaigning and execution, and can draw on additional scientific expertise in healthcare, food and drink, and energy. Our international clients also now have access to a strong presence in North America which will help us meet their international communications objectives.”

The Fonds de solidarité FTQ and Bank of Montreal provided the cross border financing for the transaction.

About AVENIR GLOBAL

AVENIR GLOBAL is a Montreal-based holding and management company with an active operations mindset and a hands-on approach to all its investments. A global powerhouse of specialist communications firms, AVENIR GLOBAL has 1,000 staff and offices in 25 locations across Canada, the U.S., Europe and the Middle East, and ranks among the top 15 largest communication firms in the world.

In Canada, AVENIR GLOBAL owns NATIONAL Public Relations, the country’s leading public relations firm, servicing clients across a wide range of sectors, which includes NATIONAL Capital Markets, the industry’s foremost investor relations and financial services practice. In the United States, AVENIR GLOBAL owns SHIFT Communications, a data-driven integrated communications agency; and the public relations and communication company Padilla, which includes the brand consultancy Joe Smith, the food and nutrition experts at FoodMinds and the research authorities at SMS Research Advisors. In Europe, AVENIR GLOBAL owns the London-based strategic communications consultancy Madano and Hanover, one of the EMEA’s leading strategic communications and public affairs consultancies, with offices in London, Brussels, Dublin, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Hanover Group also includes creative communications agency The Playbook, and the brand and culture consultancy Multiple. The AVENIR GLOBAL network also includes healthcare specialists AXON Communications, with offices in Toronto, the U.S, the U.K. and Europe and healthcare creative agency Cherry, based in London.

AVENIR GLOBAL is owned by RES PUBLICA Consulting Group.

About Hanover

Hanover is one of Europe’s leading strategic communications and public affairs consultancies, with offices in London, Brussels, Dublin, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Hanover Group also includes creative communications agency The Playbook, and Multiple, a brand and culture consultancy that enables technology challengers and corporate change-makers to define their purpose, fire up their people and build platforms for growth.

Hanover Group has 163 full-time employees across Europe and 2018 revenue of £19m. It has delivered consistent 25% top-line growth over the past four years, and plans to double the size of the company by 2022.

Hanover provides a full suite of communications services to clients in healthcare, financial services, technology, media, energy, FMCG, industrial, and sport. Its blue-chip client list includes Goldman Sachs, Airbus, Microsoft, Warner Media, Sky, Lilly, Lucozade Ribena Suntory, Tata Steel, Novartis, BMS, Roche, and Takeda.

Hanover is now an AVENIR GLOBAL company.

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