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Industries in evolution and a country in change: What next?

Ant Morse, Head of Digital Solutions at O2, discusses the rapid technological changes we have experienced over the past 12 months, and how they’ll shape what lies ahead.

Listen to the Blue Door Podcast, episode 9: ‘Industries in evolution and a country in change’.

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You can also watch this panel session in its entirety on our Blue Door YouTube channel.

At our annual Blue Door Expo in October 2020, I hosted a group panel that considered the role played by technologies such as Industry 4.0, private networks, robotics, data analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the evolution of traditional organisations as we embrace this digitally connected era.

It was inevitable that we talked about the disruptive impact that the pandemic has had, but it was interesting to hear four industry leaders talk up the opportunities that the last 12 months have presented.

For example, Julie Wardhaugh, Chief Architect of Digital and Technology Transformation at British Sugar, believes that because the company was able to get everyone online and working effectively within days, with minimal disruption, she’ll face significantly fewer barriers to lead the transformation going forward. She’s no longer asking the question “What is possible?” but rather “What next?”.

John Roberts, CEO of AO.com, acknowledged that the pandemic has opened a lot of organisation’s minds about what is possible, which is good for productivity, innovation and the economy in the long term. For John, it’s vital that organisations retain the growth mindset that was established during this time. Debating what can and can’t be done isn’t an option. There isn’t time for the debate. Organisations proved they were able to act quickly at the start, and we will all need to continue to act quickly in the future to remain competitive and in line with customer expectations.

Steve Rose, Executive Partner at Bell Research Labs and Nokia, also recognised the speed with which organisations embraced solutions and were able to digitise workflows, helping organisations accelerate away from old ways of working and thinking. The existing video and collaboration platforms are doing a great job, but to solve complex business challenges in the future, a number of the platforms and the tools will need to rethink how they add value:

“If you’ve got groups of people distributed in different parts of the country or across the world, how do you get them to solve different complex problems together in a way that enables brainstorming, or design thinking, or involves sharing ideas, envisioning, and then taking those ideas forward?”

Andrei Brasoveanu, a Partner at Venture Capitalist Accel, has had to adapt to new ways of engaging with founders:

“For us, relationships are key, and in the past we have built up relationships with entrepreneurs, sometimes over several years, before we back them. Obviously that’s changed and we’ve actually done, I believe, half a dozen remote investments since lockdown.”

However Andrei believes that the pace of technological change has opened up a new world of investment opportunities, as well as new ways for entrepreneurs to access investors and finance. As a result, Andrei welcomes being able to engage with new organisations focused on solutions for these new ways of working.

“You’re no longer bound to a specific network of people, or need to be in a two-hour plane radius from a large tech hub. We’re seeing more and more teams start remotely, build remotely, and being able to raise capital from anywhere in the world.”

I found it interesting that all our panel members had witnessed evidence that we can move at speed when needed, relying on that human characteristic of opportunity coming from adversity. The successful organisations of the future will need to ensure that this continues.

It was an honour to host and facilitate this discussion, and over the course of an hour we went on to discuss proof of concepts, the thorny issue of prioritising competing demands for budget allocation, connectivity and what the new ways of using mobile and private networks mean for business.

Want to watch the full group panel discussion? You can view it on our Blue Door YouTube channel here.

We also expand on the key points raised by the group in Episode 9 of the Blue Door Podcast. Click here.



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