Nov 2017

Can the UK really lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Written by Paul Maher

Can the UK really lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

A very British revolution is in the air. It’s official, we live in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

The First Industrial Revolution was sparked in the steam-powered North of England. The second was pioneered by British industrialists who recycled World War II computing to count teacake sales, inventing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) in the process. The creator of the third was a British academic, Sir Tim Berners Lee, who brought us the World Wide Web.

As the third revolution developed, one key component grew dramatically – data. Breakthroughs in technology started to increase the value of data at an exponential rate and it continues to do so. Today, we are living in the 4IR, one that is powered by data analytics and machine learning.

Why is the 4IR important?

The 4IR has received plenty of media attention over the past year. In the beginning of 2017, world leaders in business, media and politics gathered at the foothills of the Swiss Alps for the World Economic Forum and proclaimed the 4IR will create economic progress and human advancement. Last month a UK Government report boldly predicted the 4IR will unlock £455 billion in the next decade for the local manufacturing industry in as they integrate the advances in technology.
Like its predecessors, the current revolution will usher in progress, define new business processes, design job roles never conceived before and create real-world wealth. Technology is at the core of the revolution and at Big Data LDN, in response, Positive Marketing developed a Point of View for UK Technology Leaders which explained how UK organisations could get the best out of their talent, technology and processes.

Big Data LDN 2016 was a first year standout success with over 3,000 attendees heading to the Olympia to watch Tech Leaders talk about how data is causing revolutionary changes in UK banking, transport, retail and utilities industries. To make Big Data LDN 2017 even more successful, it needed a progressive Point of View and a tone of voice to match.

Designing and delivering a revolutionary Point of View

Soon after the World Economic Forum in January, we helped create a 4IR steering group of UK Tech Leaders with illustrious backgrounds including data leadership at organisations such as Marks and Spencer, Network Rail and Southern Water. The group provided a first-hand view of data-related struggles and successes found within UK businesses. The market issues below were first identified, we then took these themes and surveyed 250 Data Leaders at large UK organisations to understand what their thoughts were:

  • What is the UK’s role in the face of this new wave of data-driven global upheaval?
  • Which skills and which technologies do we need to make sure, this is not the first industrial revolution which Britain misses out on?
  • How will regulations and Brexit affect the tech talent pool?

Positive analysed the survey findings and created a Point of View for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Report. We used the fresh survey data to pitch and secure press registration for Big Data LDN. The data was also used to attract more attendees to go to the Big Data LDN conference.

In November 2017, the Fourth Industrial Revolution Report was launched in front of a packed conference room at Big Data LDN where the findings were debated by the members of the 4IR steering group. The strength of the survey findings and the excitement from the press pitches generated the coverage in some major IT publications including Computer Weekly, CBR and Silicon. Furthermore, the event attendance record was beaten early on the second day of the conference.

There is no doubt the 4IR is here to stay and we watch with eager anticipation to see which UK companies are making the big steps on this journey. As with every previous industrial revolution, some will win and some will lose. For those who missed out on the launch, here are the three tips for UK organisations to succeed in the 4IR:

  1. Create and deliver data strategy which is communicated throughout the organisation
  2. Look internally for 4IR talent first as they already understand the business model
  3. Assess your current technology stack to see if there is a place for strategic data management technologies

A special thank you to the Bill and Matt Stubbs from Big Data LDN, the members of the 4IR Steering Group and Alan Mak MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Let’s see where UK organisations are in a year’s time.

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