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Latest Fourth Industrial Revolution Report highlights need for fresh data models despite 65% of tech experts furloughed.

Wednesday 23rd September 2020 - London, England - The UK’s largest event for data, Big Data LDN (London), today revealed the findings of its UK Fourth Industrial Revolution 2020 Report, now in its fourth year.

The independent research, commissioned by Big Data LDN, surveyed 250 of the UK’s most influential data leaders as they battled through the COVID-19 pandemic, in the wake of regulatory confusion and the UK’s imminent departure from the European Union.

COVID-19 has pushed the UK into its first recession in eleven years, with employers furloughing or making redundant in-house data specialists and prioritising external contract staff over permanent employees. Some 65% of UK data leaders were forced to rely on the Government's furlough scheme.

The public sector was worst affected. 76% of respondents had to make the hard decision to downsize their in-house data teams. Perhaps to compensate, 60% of respondents are automating more business functions.

The pandemic has also put a spotlight on how organisations use technology to weather the pandemic. Some 76% of UK data leaders believe data changes caused by COVID have made their use of AI models redundant.

Bill Hammond commented, “As the UK’s data leaders map out the future in a data-driven world, skills play a vital role. COVID-19 has presented challenges to the way the UK data economy works. With smaller teams having to do more with less, the question of the UK’s leadership in the Fourth Industrial Revolution is, for the first time, unclear.”

The lack of accurate data has also forced UK organisations to reassess business strategies. Insurance & financial services firms struggled the most, with 70% finding the lack of up-to-date data has forced them to rethink their approach.

This year, UK data leaders feel unprepared for the regulatory landscape, post Brexit, with 66% demanding more clarity on how the changes in the legality of data sharing practices will affect them once formally separated from the EU. Retail organisations feel the most in the dark with 72% wanting more transparency on EU data laws, followed by 66% of public sector and insurance & financial services firms.

Big Data LDN founder Bill Hammond, said, “Data professionals are watching intently as data becomes the battleground for competing global nation states. UK businesses are losing trust in Governments, favouring major cloud players in their stead. Meanwhile regulation adapts to protect the privacy of citizens, raising questions about who will steer the UK’s Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

Other Fourth Industrial Revolution Report 2020 findings include:

1. People vs. Machines - 62% of public sector organisations claim the inability to implement change management holds them back from business goals.

2. Data initiative spend - Average spend on data driven initiatives has decreased to £1.8m, a 22% decrease YOY.

3. Hottest skills - Open source is in demand. 46% of UK businesses plan to implement more Open Source software, versus just 30% who plan to use more proprietary software.

4. CDO priorities - 55% of UK data leaders stated that data quality was a key focus for CDOs, staying on top and seeing a steep increase from 41% last year. Moving up even more, 52% of respondents stated accountability around key metrics as a top priority, rising from 23% in previous research.

5. Data bias is a risky business - Some 82% of UK businesses claim their data is disproportionately weighted to specific location demographics.


Big Data LDN turns virtual on September 23rd and 24th for its fifth year. To receive the full report, speak to Bill Hammond, Big Data LDN founder, or sign up for a press pass, please email

The scope of the research is wide-ranging and covers multiple sectors. For custom data cuts and specific analysis, or questions about the data, please contact the press contact below.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution survey was independently conducted by Coleman Parkes for Big Data LDN to Market Research Council guidelines. Interviews were conducted via email and researched the views of 250 UK data experts working in large enterprises across five different sectors.

About Big Data LDN
Big Data LDN, a free to attend conference, is all about providing answers by focusing on the practical steps that organisations should take. Complementing the education programme, the Big Data LDN exhibition brings together over 100 leading technology and services suppliers from around the world, providing one-to-one access to expert advice and a wide range of data and analytics products.

See the full agenda here.

Press Contact - Big Data LDN
Positive Marketing for Big Data LDN
Camilla Holroyd|Courtney Rowan
0203 637 0640

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