Water supply and sewerage lie on a critical path for developers, although the process of providing these services can be hugely inefficient. Now Anglian Water is among the utilities digitally transforming practices.
Water companies are looking to harness emerging automation technology and smart data to transform their services. Often this requires a new way of working, closely focused on defined business outcomes, effective innovation and proper collaboration.
Businesses of all sizes are increasingly tackling climate change because they recognise not only the environmental need, but also customers’ expectations. Cutting carbon emissions and using renewable sources of energy can win loyal clients while improving profitability.
Environmental issues are finally high on the agenda of large corporations, given the pressure from regulators and customers who want to see green credentials. Recent documentaries covering the impact of plastics have further heightened all concerns for the planet, including energy usage.
The automotive and technology industries are rapidly developing self-driving cars. But while these vehicles are expected on UK roads within three years the legal frameworks for liability and data privacy remain far from ready, says leading global insurance law firm Kennedys.
Car insurance may have operated essentially the same way for many years, but it faces a new complication in the form of self-driving cars. In an accident, questions abound whether it was the fault of the autonomous system or the driver, how it can be determined whether the car was manually driven or automated at that moment and if the system had been tampered with or hacked.
Investing in real estate portfolios, private equity firms and other non-public corporate enterprises has typically been the exclusive domain of asset and wealth managers whose clients have £100,000 or more to put in. But the security of blockchain technology and the reliability of distributed ledgers mean investments can easily be broken into smaller chunks, offering opportunities to everyone. Anyone with as little as £200 can now invest in assets that were beyond reach.
Funds' use of subscription lines and leverage facilities is evolving as managers seek to enhance
operational efficiencies and returns.
Debt funds and financial sponsors are increasingly calling on banks to provide subscription line and leverage facilities, in an effort to increase operational flexibility and boost returns. We speak to key market players to see how market participants are approaching these transactions.
Consumers and companies are taking an active interest in cryptocurrencies, but there is clearly a long way to go before their eventual role in personal and business finance is fully realised. To some degree, a lack of broader awareness of what cryptocurrencies have to offer is holding the industry back. But so too is a lack of joined up thinking within some projects.
“Very few of the 2,000 or so cryptocurrencies operating have a truly business-like operational structure and a hierarchy that ensures they make good strategic decisions,” says Rowan Stone, director of business development for cryptocurrency ZenCash. “All these digital currencies are still in the phase of the geeks – too complicated and clunky for many to use. People are starting to realise that by fixing this we can make traditional finance efficient.”
Liability insurers are highly averse to risks they cannot accurately quantify and that could present major payouts. Insurers’ risk aversion can be traced back to their being swamped with claims in the wake of deaths linked to asbestos in the latter half of the last century, a phase that nearly broke the Lloyd’s insurance market.
Since those claims, “many insurers routinely insist upon exclusions for various emerging risks in their policies”, explains Bob Reville, chief executive at insurtech firm Praedicat. The company found in a recent survey that 83 per cent of underwriters see their job as “protecting their company against the next asbestos”, which might be mobile phones, wifi, nanotechnology, 3D printing, fracking or anything else. “When they do that job by adding exclusions, this can leave their clients exposed,” says Dr Reville.
A confluence of demand factors is opening up enormous new opportunities throughout the lithium supply chain in Europe. While the nexus between Australian suppliers and Chinese processors remains the foremost lithium supply chain set-up in the world, as a result of the strategic emphasis placed on its progress by the Chinese government, the balance is changing.
For now at least, the European lithium value chain is in development, but that could soon advance with the help of traditional open cut mines. A leading example of this is the mine being developed by Savannah Resources at its Mina do Barroso project in northern Portugal.
A revolution in data is enabling insurers to predict risk precisely, empowered by businesses’ digital footprint gathered from property and operational monitoring systems. Insurers can also use the technology to identify trends and help clients prevent accident “events”, reducing the frequency and severity of claims.
Sensors linked to the internet of things enable information to be drawn from within organisations and workplaces, then fed into businesses’ and insurers’ risk management systems. The technology works by sensing everything from air conditioning, heat, water and electricity, to movement of workers and the operation of lorries, planes and ships. Underwriters can then analyse risk continuously, predict events and understand the cause of claims.
"I have dedicated more than 40 years of my life to mining, a wonderful industry that has helped lift countries out of poverty," says Mark Cutifani, chief executive at Anglo American. "But it is also an industry at a crossroads as society’s expectations of business rightly grow."
"We must strive for step changes in how we mine, how we can enable the full benefits and how we engage with society as a whole," he says. Anglo American's efforts to realise long-term and truly sustainable development opportunities are centred on what it calls collaborative regional development.
A selection of articles, reports and other content.