A biotech startup can use state-of-the-art AI to derive the same level of data insights into its drug development processes as a traditional big pharma. Platforms developed on a computer science graduate's laptops could turn data streams from connected cars into perfectly targeted insurance offerings, disrupting the incumbents and reshaping the marketplace.
Cloud platforms already enable small businesses to store their data on a scalable basis. Spotify was able to scale quickly, and change the entire music industry, because it was initially built upon the Amazon Web Services cloud. Add to that the incredible power to derive insights from your hosted data and we begin to see where the next business revolution might come from.
Skilful people, not infrastructure, are the future of the tech industry
However, this will not change the fact that data science is complicated. The barriers arising from the cost of scalable infrastructure may more or less disappear, but people who understand business and how to build analytics that derive value from data will become even more sought after.
Those able to combine advanced data science with a deep understanding of business challenges and domain expertise in areas such as life sciences, energy or industrial engineering will be the people who reshape companies in the next decade. They are the translators and their role is vital.
In short, the value of skill and expertise will overtake the value of technology. Received wisdom says modernisation runs from agriculture through manufacturing to services. This is another significant move of the modern world economy away from building physical products and towards harnessing intelligence to do things better.
New ways of working take a while to gain momentum and acceptance. Building AI platforms and getting people to use them is more complex than moving data to the cloud or buying a company iPad and its full impact will take a while to be felt beyond the early adopters.
But make no mistake, this has the potential to be hugely disruptive to the business world as we know it. Those hoping to remain, or become, market leaders in ten years' time, should consider these changes very seriously.
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