McKinsey & Company today announced the expansion of QuantumBlack, AI by McKinsey, to its offices in Johannesburg, Casablanca, Lagos, and Cairo and to serve as hubs for its global QuantumBlack network.
While McKinsey has always served clients in Africa on data and analytics, QuantumBlack has been an accelerating force for McKinsey, blending powerful AI and technology with deep strategic thinking and domain expertise to help clients unlock substantial growth. McKinsey acquired QuantumBlack, a London-based company with roots in Formula 1 motor racing, in 2015.
“The breakneck pace at which AI is changing and evolving is challenging investors and business leaders to understand the AI ecosystem and its impact on their businesses. In addition, generative AI is giving rise to an entire ecosystem of its own,” says Alexander Sukharevsky, a senior partner and the global leader of QuantumBlack, AI by McKinsey. “Our 1,300+ strong team of practitioners, specializing in data science, data engineering, design, and industry expertise, plays an important role in helping our clients in Africa understand AI and its possibilities and implement it at scale to achieve sustainable impact.”
McKinsey research estimates that AI could contribute about $13 trillion of incremental global economic impact by 2030, with AI likely contributing about 9 percent to Africa’s GDP by 2030. If delivered, this impact would compare well with that of other general-purpose technologies throughout history.
Globally, there has been an exciting increase in investment in AI over the past four years. According to executives surveyed in McKinsey’s State of AI report, over 50 percent of organizations spent more than five percent of their budget on AI in the last year, a 12 percent increase on 2018 figures. Sixty-three percent of organizations also said they would increase investment in AI over the next three years.
“Our methodology of hybrid intelligence combines the power of data to unearth insights that work hand-in-hand with creativity, empathy, and experience,” says Umar Bagus, partner and leader of McKinsey’s Digital and Analytics practice in Africa. “Africa has not been left behind either. We have seen steady progress in AI adoption in our work with many leading African healthcare institutions, banks, insurers, retailers, mining, and chemical organizations. However, to catch up with AI high performers, more investment and faster acceleration is needed.
The survey shows that 57 percent of respondents in emerging economies, including Africa, reported adoption, up from 45 percent in 2020. The talent crunch remains one of the biggest barriers across geographies. About 60 percent of emerging market respondents highlighted that attracting tech talent such as software engineers, data scientists, and designers remains a top challenge, with about 40 percent finding it even more difficult now than three years ago. Reskilling is now also a common alternative to hiring, with more than 40 percent of emerging market responders saying they are reskilling as a way of gaining more AI talent.
“There is enough momentum for African institutions to leapfrog and transcend limitations and challenges while delivering real-world impact for Africa’s people, investors, and the environment. We are proud to be here in Africa to help accelerate the impact AI has on the continent,” says Sukharevsky.
Behind Closed Doors: Microsoft’s Bid to Make Bing Apple’s Default Search Engine
Insiders have disclosed that Microsoft Corp. engaged in discussions with Apple Inc. around 2020 about potentially selling its Bing search engine.
The proposed deal aimed to replace Google as the default search engine on Apple devices, particularly iPhones.
People familiar with the matter, who chose to remain anonymous, disclosed that high-level executives from Microsoft held exploratory talks with Eddy Cue, Apple’s services chief, responsible for the existing search engine partnership with Google.
Despite these discussions, the deal never progressed beyond preliminary stages. This revelation has gained renewed attention in light of the ongoing U.S. Department of Justice antitrust trial against Google, in which Apple and Microsoft are actively involved. The Justice Department is using Apple’s arrangement with Google as evidence of Google’s search market dominance.
Apple’s Eddy Cue defended the collaboration during his trial testimony, asserting that Google was the superior search option, emphasizing the quality of Google’s technology.
Apple’s partnership with Google, initiated in 2002, had grown to become highly lucrative, earning Apple between $4 billion to $7 billion annually by 2020.
This financial aspect, coupled with concerns about Bing’s competitiveness, played pivotal roles in Apple’s ultimate decision not to acquire Bing.
While Bing was briefly used as the default search engine in some Apple features between 2013 and 2017, including Siri and Spotlight, Google ultimately remained the preferred choice. In court, it was revealed that Microsoft had considered a multi-billion-dollar investment in its relationship with Apple in 2016, but this attempt was unsuccessful.
Eddy Cue’s testimony underscored Apple’s belief that Google’s search technology was unmatched, signaling that Apple had no plans to develop its own search tool.
This differs from Apple’s approach in other areas, where it competes directly with Google in mapping software, voice assistants, and operating systems.
In retrospect, Apple’s dalliance with Bing serves as a fascinating chapter in the tech giants’ intricate web of partnerships and rivalries.
iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max Owners Complain of Overheating Issues
Some of the first owners of Apple Inc.’s latest offerings, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, are feeling the heat – literally.
Reports are pouring in from frustrated customers who claim that their new devices are prone to overheating during usage and charging, casting a shadow over Apple’s flagship product.
Complaints have flooded Apple forums and social media platforms, with users expressing concern over the device becoming uncomfortably warm while gaming, making phone calls, or using FaceTime.
The issue appears to be exacerbated when the phone is plugged in for charging.
Apple’s technical support staff have been inundated with calls on the matter and have been directing customers to an older support article on managing hot or cold iPhones.
This notice suggests that overheating may occur during intensive app use, charging, or initial device setup.
Apple, headquartered in Cupertino, California, has remained tight-lipped regarding these complaints, leaving users speculating about the root cause of the issue.
As the iPhone accounts for a substantial portion of Apple’s revenue, any product flaws are scrutinized intensely. While some problems can be resolved through software updates, others may fade with time. Apple usually subjects its products to rigorous testing to catch potential pitfalls before mass production.
The overheating issue could be related to the iPhone setup process, which can be processor-intensive, particularly when re-downloading apps and data from iCloud.
Users have also suggested that certain background apps, such as Instagram or Uber, might exacerbate the problem.
Videos of users measuring the phone’s temperature with thermometers have surfaced online, with one user reporting, “iPhone 15 Pro Max gets really hot easily.”
However, it’s not a universal problem, as some users have reported no issues or found that using a protective case mitigated the heat.
This development follows recent complaints about the FineWoven material used in iPhone 15 cases, highlighting potential quality concerns with Apple’s latest product offerings.
TikTok Faces Regulatory Storm in Indonesia as Minister Calls for E-commerce Split
Teten Masduki, the Indonesian Minister of Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises, has emerged as a vocal critic of the Chinese-owned social media giant TikTok.
Masduki’s relentless complaints about TikTok’s dominance in the Indonesian e-commerce market have set the stage for a seismic regulatory shift that could have far-reaching consequences.
Masduki, a former activist who once took on government corruption, has been disrupting official meetings to raise concerns about TikTok’s impact on local players. This groundswell of criticism has culminated in sweeping regulations that force TikTok to split payments from shopping in Indonesia, a move seen as a significant blow to TikTok’s e-commerce aspirations.
Under these new rules, social media companies in Indonesia are barred from handling direct payments for online purchases, effectively requiring TikTok to either create a separate app for payments or risk being shuttered in Indonesia entirely.
The regulations, stricter than anticipated, have already had a chilling effect on the e-commerce market, benefiting local champions like GoTo and Sea.
While TikTok has pushed back, arguing that the separation of social media and e-commerce hampers innovation, the Indonesian government remains firm in its stance, aiming to protect smaller enterprises and voters as elections loom on the horizon.
This clash underscores the challenges TikTok faces in its pursuit of e-commerce dominance and sets a precedent for other countries in the region. As TikTok’s meteoric rise in regional e-commerce continues, governments are increasingly assessing whether the platform benefits or harms domestic merchants.
For TikTok, the challenge lies in finding a solution that appeases authorities while allowing it to continue its growth. The repercussions of this battle in Indonesia could reverberate throughout Southeast Asia and beyond, shaping the future of social media-driven e-commerce.
In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, Teten Masduki’s bold stance against TikTok may just be the opening salvo in a much larger struggle for control of the e-commerce arena.
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