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November 16, 2017

Brexit: Opportunity or threat for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Can the UK still lead the way in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and compete with tech giants of the world?

By April Slattery

UK Businesses are determined to lead the way in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) despite Brexit, the skills gap widening and GDPR being implemented.

Big Data London carried out a survey across data –driven businesses in the UK to assess just how they are coping with the pressure to compete with global competitors prior to Brexit.

According to the survey findings the 4IR is expected to bring many opportunities to boost revenue among businesses, bettering the UK economy in the process and ultimately ensuring the UK continues to have a competitive leadership edge.

Businesses taking part in the survey outlined that investing in strategic technology will boost their leadership presence in the 4IR, driving value and increasing growth.

Cloud skills and data analytics are expected to drive the UK forward in the future and be essential to business growth in the revolution, after findings revealed a quarter of respondents indicated cloud would play a big part in development.

Organisations also responded, with 27% outlining the important of data preparation and 29% revealed Enterprise Information Management is an important factor.

Furthermore, the report demonstrated optimism ahead of the 4IR as many businesses are somewhat prepared, with the majority of UK organisations already having a data strategy underway. Four times as many UK organisations use data to analyse customer engagement and loyalty, as they do to develop new products.

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Abhas Ricky, Director, Strategy and Innovation, Hortonworks, said: “Big data is raising the bar for competitiveness on a global scale; therefore businesses can no longer afford to rely on legacy infrastructures to remain lean and innovative.

“As counteracting fraud, improving customer loyalty and the efficiency of supply chains becomes increasingly relevant; any data-driven organisation should invest in new technology that is able to tackle the most demanding challenges and future-proof the business.”

Initially many people found Brexit as a barrier to business, however the survey has found quite the opposite as many UK businesses admit it could hold more opportunities than threats businesses once thought.

When asked how they will obtain the skill sets needed for the 4IR, 60% of businesses admitted they would invest in identifying and redeploying staff with transferable skills in the workplace instead of outsourcing.

The minority of 2% admitted they would outsource for talent, demonstrating Brexit isn’t the threat many thought it would be. Findings revealed up skilling would prove somewhat easier in the long term as existing workers already understand the business model and could adapt new skills to this, as oppose to someone completely new.

Bill Hammond, Big Data LDN founder, said: “Britain’s data leaders are, perhaps overly, confident they can redeploy talent and build data-driven businesses which turn Brexit and GDPR into global sales advantages.

“If we can guard against complacency, stay at the forefront of technical advances and, critically, muster the human resources required, there seems genuine cause for optimism for the UK in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

In addition, just under half of organisations (44%) believe Brexit will actually boost innovation across organisation’s data usage, even in the wake of increased EU data protection laws with more opportunities to capitalise on datasets.

Moreover, ahead of Brexit organisations stiffly believe UK PLC’s will remain competitive around the world, despite Brexit, with only 10% of organisations thinking their business will become less competitive post-Brexit.

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However 38% do believe UK organisations will have less access to data from European partners, which could hold some disadvantage to the UK.

Alan Mak, Chair of the All-Party group on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, said: “This report draws much needed attention to how British businesses can use data for product design and process innovation, adding value in new ways, lowering costs, and giving more choice to the consumer.

“Data will be as important to the British economy in this century as oil was in the previous one, so it is vital that as we prepare for Brexit we invest wisely in the skills and new technologies needed to harness the opportunities of the 4IR.”

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