The Fourth Industrial Revolution has seen the automation of traditional business and industrial practices driven by exponential data growth. This innovation has been accelerated by COVID-19 which has decisively changed the UK’s data economy.
The fourth consecutive Fourth Industrial Revolution Report (DOWNLOAD HERE) shows businesses have shifted focus, as pre-COVID data sets became outdated and the AI algorithms reliant on them created both new risks and opportunities. The economic impact of the current pandemic cannot be ignored. Hard decisions were made to furlough or terminate the contracts of permanent and temporary staff, creating ripples for the UK’s data economy. Organisations are challenged with simultaneously recruiting for new data skills while reallocating responsibilities for some dedicated technical roles. These skills could be adapting off the shelf open source products or developing proprietary technologies in-house. The jobs merry-go-round comes at a time when data collected pre-pandemic is likely to be unreliable. Customers have changed buying habits, supply chains have evolved and business strategies have had to pivot. In some cases technology needs change by the day.
AI, a shining beacon of the UK’s tech sector, is struggling to reconcile data from two very different worlds; pre and post COVID. Ensuring a wider range of machine learning, AI, and even more basic algorithms are fit for purpose is a key challenge for today’s data leaders. Competitive advantage involves checking inherited biases don’t forever skew development of the UK’s Fourth Industrial Revolution. Organisations told us they continue to review an endless variety of cloud models which they believe will solve new problems and create better efficiencies. One size certainly does not fit all. Growing businesses are realising scaling quickly brings growing pains and data needs are changing as they strive to become global players. What is needed today is almost certainly not what will be needed tomorrow.
All this comes at a crucial time for UK innovation as the country prepares for the end of the Brexit transition period and deals with the implications of leaving the European Union. A nation that has built its global reputation on the basis of its technical ingenuity is now being looked at closely by the rest of the world. Data professionals are watching intently as data becomes the battleground for competing global nation states. But it’s not all up to them. UK businesses are losing trust in Governments, favouring major cloud players in their stead. Meanwhile regulation adapts to protect the privacy of citizens, raises questions about who will steer the UK’s Fourth Industrial Revolution.
This latest Fourth Industrial Revolution report sets out the challenges, which are stark. It also shines a light on the complex interrelation between data privacy, data governance and data ethics. With the UK’s stated aim to lead in this most vibrant of economies. Finally, this report showcases the innovation happening today and the wide range of exciting new roles for the data workers of tomorrow. Recruiting and developing these young professionals will retain this country’s status as a global technology leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.