The Future: Are You Ready? Thoughts from Nigel Willson

It was great to have the opportunity to talk with the International Practice Group at their Virtual Conference organised by Alternative Events in October. Being close to Halloween there were one or two unexpected surprises!

More and more organisations are seeing the value from virtualising their conferences in our uncertain world, and never a better time for our topic ‘The Future: Are You Ready?’ as technology continues to take centre stage during this crisis.

What were the takeaways for IPG and the professional services community?


There has never been a better time for small and medium-sized professional services businesses to compete. They have the speed and agility some larger organisations lack and can compete equally with the power of cloud services. Scaling up, down and even in times of crisis turning off their cloud capabilities.



Of course in this context, not a physical robot automating tasks in our world, but software ones, robotic process automation (RPA) has been even more widely used during the pandemic, and we now enter a time hyper-automation, RPA powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence and of course chatbots have never been more popular as the first point of contact for customer interactions and enquiries.



This inevitably leads to people thinking they may lose their jobs to automation or AI, Gartner predicts, although some jobs will go to AI, new ones will be created and most importantly most jobs will change, as we become lifetime learners. A survey by Dell suggests that 85% of the jobs in 2030 don’t actually exist yet. Take a look at some of the suggested jobs in 2030.


Invisible AI

Invisible AI is already all around us, from Google search results to smartphone authentication using biometrics and also in business Software as a Service, take Word PowerPoint and Excel they all use invisible as we move to democratize AI we are also making it invisible!


Responsible AI

With Invisible AI comes the need for Responsible AI as we need to understand what has happened inside the ‘black box’. Currently, we lack legislation for Ethical or Responsible AI but it will come, so for the moment companies need to look to self-governance models based on one of the many frameworks available (such as IEEE ).



Data is our new currency, with our world of data being approximately 44 zettabytes ( 44 trillion Gigabytes) we may think we are rich!

Data is complex and messy, but often contains valuable insights and can give business advantage. Organizations need to work with their data to extract the insights and business value they need to survive and thrive in the world today.


Citizen Data Scientists

To extract that data we use ‘data scientists’ they are the people that get our actionable insight from the data – often considered the rockstars of the 21st century in pay and profile.

But we see the need and rise of the ‘citizen data scientist’ these are business people with some data knowhow using everyday tools like excel to do much of the same work


Storage of the Future

With all the data we are creating that is growing at an exponential rate, we need new solutions for storage. Gartner predict by 2024 30% of businesses will be evaluating synthetic DNA as a storage medium as well as incredibly stable and long-lasting it is incredibly compact, DNA storage can essentially shrink a 200,000 sqft datacenter into the size of two game dices put together!


We also heard from the IPG members on their pandemic challenges and successes – increased trust, better team spirit, needing to attract new clients in a locked-down world all came up – but overall there was a spirit of strength, community and optimism for a future, which is here, and I get the feeling they are ready for!

Nigel Willson

Awaken AI
Nigel is a Global Speaker, Influencer and Advisor on Artificial Intelligence & Innovation. He has his own independent AI advisory company called Awaken AI and is also co-founder of We and AI a non-profit organisation promoting the ethical use of AI for the benefit of everyone. He sits on several advisory boards, where he hopes to help ensure that AI is used in a fair, ethical and transparent way and promote the use of AI to level inequalities in the world, and promote AI for good and AI for all. Website Contact