Last month, an independent review by Jürgen Maier, CEO of Siemens UK and Ireland, was released in the form of a report which detailed new plans for making the UK a global leader in high-tech manufacturing.
It argued that technologies such as artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing and machine learning could bring widespread benefits to companies that adopt them rapidly and effectively.
Despite the promise that digital technologies will boost productivity and competitiveness, create higher-paid, higher-skilled jobs and address regional economic disparities, adoption has so far has been limited.
The review found UK manufacturing could benefit by as much as £455bn over 10 years, with sector growth of 1.5-3% and a potential productivity boost of more than 25% by 2025.
Mr Maier concluded that to reach these targets, a dozen digital innovation hubs and a new national innovation scheme should be created.
Meanwhile, five digital research centres focussed on cutting edge technology – such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and the Internet of Things – should be set up too.
The recommendations made in this report are a step in the right direction, and we hope they do come to fruition.
The clamour for traditional industries to move into the digital age is mounting, with governments, businesses and trade associations alike calling for action.
We recently took the pulse of UK businesses’ ability to enact digital transformation, and alongside a shortage of skills, we found that 1 in 4 organizations have experienced a failed digital project in the last two years – at an average cost of £450,000.
This shows that it’s no longer enough to have the best applications and devices; without talented and capable people to use them, they are meaningless.
You may have the brightest and most progressive people, but they will flounder in a culture that stifles innovation.
And no business – no matter how big, how influential or powerful – can hope to stand alone and succeed in the world of tomorrow.
For these innovation centres to be successful they’ll need to offer end-to-end support to industrial players, and prioritise innovation by facilitating strategic co-creation partnerships.
To realize their digital vision, it’s crucial that businesses have the right skills, processes, partnerships and technology in place.
It will be interesting to see a more detailed plan for the delivery of these proposals, and a clear idea of which will be prioritised. Nonetheless, it’s something us in the tech industry needs to get behind.
The government has an important role in setting the tone for how we move forward in the digital era- but it’s up to those working with technology to help deliver on those promises.
Back in January, the Prime Minister pledged to help plug the skills gap that we’re seeing in our industries by boosting the vocational education system. This is a perfect illustration of the important role government has to play.
And with our ambassador programme, we’ve gone right to the heart of the problem and equipped schools and UTCs with the support they need to help the next generation of school leaders compete in the future we’ve created for them.
There is a long road to follow, but it’s an exciting one.
We’re confident that we will soon see much more attention and action being fuelled into making the future of British industry digital.