How will new alcohol guidelines affect drinks businesses?
New guidelines for alcohol consumption have been released today. The new limits are based on scientific evidence that links alcohol to cancer and other health problems caused by binge-drinking.
It also suggests that drinking red wine isn’t as good for our health as we were previously led to believe.
The recommended weekly limit for both men and women is now 14 units. Everyone is advised to limit binge-drinking and alternate alcoholic drinks with water or soft drinks.
Both men and women are also advised to take two or three dry days per week. All of this information is based on the fact that no level of drinking is now considered safe. Low and moderate alcohol consumption has been linked to several different types of cancer and can also affect the liver and heart.
Trade bodies have already reacted to these guidelines saying they are confusing.
Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), said: “There seems to be little agreement, even among health experts, about the evidence to back up the latest proposals. The guidelines draw a link between alcohol intake and associated health risks, but go on to say that regular drinking levels increase the chance of dying from an alcohol-related condition by just 1%.
“By the Government’s own admission, drinking at regular levels is no more dangerous than a host of everyday activities. What is being lost here is the fact that low levels of drinking remain very low risk.
“It is worth remembering that levels of alcohol consumption have been falling steadily and are at their lowest this century. Much of the work of the licensed hospitality sector in recent years has been focused on providing consumers with greater choice and our venues remain committed to promoting healthy, responsible drinking practices in a supervised environment.”
Once people start to pay attention to these new guidelines – assuming they cause people to alter their drinking habits – there’s bound to be an effect on pubs, bars and clubs. Landlords are already talking about how Dry January affects their businesses.
Paul McIntyre of the Fox and Newt in Leeds said that people not going to the pub for the month of January is a scary concept. He added: “In the pub trade we want moderation - we don't want bingers, we want people to come and enjoy the experience and leave happy and safe.”
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”