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My First Month in the Data Cluster

Read David Ferguson’s first monthly blog as our new Head of the Data cluster.

Having taken on the role of managing the Data Cluster from Katy Guthrie I would like to start by thanking Katy for the great work she has done in developing the Cluster and wish her every success in her new role at Edinburgh Innovations. I look forward to working with all organisations in the ongoing development of the cluster.

With the rapid deployment of a national COVID-19 vaccination programme and potential easing of lockdown restrictions, the hope of emerging from the current pandemic becomes a real possibility. The past year has seen a seismic shift in the application and uptake of data related technologies. The
adoption of mass working from home has changed the communication landscape and resulted in massive success stories for numerous meeting platform providers including widescale adoption of virtual conferencing. At the same time, communication networks have had to ensure access to reliable connectivity.

The speed with which the NHS has adapted to cope with the unprecedented demands has been incredible and the pharmaceutical sector has responded with massively accelerated vaccine developments. The future requirements for healthcare data analysis have been widely publicised as playing a key role in the ability to respond to the pandemic.

We have seen dramatic changes in the landscape of high street retail and the corresponding development of on-line alternatives. Changes in cash use has taken another step towards a cashless society and the adoption of digital currency. Alternative payment methods and currency options
have been highlighted and, with Tesla now accepting Bitcoin purchases, raise some interesting questions around the way in which mainstream acceptance can have an impact on the value of cryptocurrencies.

As we move towards a Post COVID return to “normal”, the reality that in fact it will be a “new normal” raises many uncertainties around what the world will look like. One certainty that we do have is that the future will require massively increasing data capture and analysis, greater technology application and uptake, and a vast array of opportunities to utilise data for positive outcomes. The Data sector will be fundamental in shaping and delivering this potential.

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