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  • Ahead in the Cloud: Innovating in the Face of Headwinds with Naomi Weir of the Confederation of British Industry

    February 06, 2023
  • The CBI's Innovation Program Director talks with us about her work guiding British business toward innovation, new ways to deal with data, and sustainability in a period of economic uncertainty.

    Hosted by Chad Watt, researcher and writer with the Infosys Knowledge Institute.

    “There's fierce headwinds facing businesses, and the only way to be doing that is through innovation.”

    “Data really underpins tech adoption. So without high quality data, we won't get the benefits of things like cloud or AI adoption.”

    “Data is really a business fundamental. It's a business basic.”

    - Naomi Weir


  • There's three big areas we'll be focusing on in 2023. That's around shaping the rules of the future economy. Growing participation in it, getting more businesses innovating and also thinking about partnerships to really drive the future economy.
  • One of the things we are doing as CBI over the next year is helping boards understand that business case for innovation in their context. Thinking about how they can be asking the right questions and setting the right challenges when thinking about growth and innovation.
  • Firms already possess a lot of the data, but it's hard to make that useful. So we've set out 10 steps in our toolkit that firms can take.
  • The few key things are: first, set the vision and start small. Identify where data and analytics could really help deliver on your business strategy. Don’t chase after the shiny tech, but actually what challenges are you facing as a business? Pick specific use cases and then really decide where you want to focus your efforts to demonstrate impact and build momentum.
  • Start with what's achievable and valuable. That's the way you get greater buy-in across your organization to get that wider organizational change. This won't happen overnight, but actually if you can start to see some progress in momentum, that's how you get behind it.
  • Set the vision and start small and then focus on other areas around auditing your technology and processes to find your capability gaps. Once you know what you want to do, have a bit of a thought about whether you are set to do that.
  • Navigate some of the data ethics and compliance issues in a practical way so you don't get into trouble down the line. And that also helps build trust with customers and clients. And so, once you've gone through those checks, you can be confident in your innovation as you're implementing it.
  • Finally, find the right data. Some of that might include tackling some of the barriers to collaboration with others. So think about data sharing, and ultimately make sure that you're really getting to use that data.
  • Just holding loads of data doesn't make you data active. It might make you data rich, but not necessarily value rich from it.
  • For businesses, the more you can understand about what's going on in your business, the more you're able to be agile and react.

Show Notes

  • 00:06

    Chad introduces himself and Naomi

  • 00:30

    What is at the top of CBI's innovation agenda for 2023?

  • 01:08

    How do you as CBI keep that innovation mindset forward? What are the kind of messages that you are taking to clients?

  • 03:18

    Naomi talks about CBI i's work around data and their toolkit that they've put together to help companies make the best use of their data.

  • 05:05

    Regardless of their technology proficiency, companies understand data has a huge potential and they're just passively creating and accessing and having access to huge amounts of data. But when you're faced with something so immense, where do you recommend companies start?

  • 06:47

    Can you draw me a picture of what a data active company looks like and then maybe tell me a story about how data active companies have made use of their data?

  • 07:51

    Just for those who might not be familiar with Zurich Insurance. What’s their main line of business?

  • 11:06

    Can you give me a different metaphor for data and how companies should think about data?

  • 12:07

    How does CBI and how do you connect digital innovation and going green?

  • 13:10

    In terms of major technology and innovation, looking ahead in 2023, where do you see a big innovation breakthrough coming?

  • 15:07

    Naomi describes what advances businesses can make in 2023 by doing better with their data.

About Naomi Weir

Programme Director - Innovation, CBI

Naomi Weir

Naomi is a Programme Director of Innovation at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). She leads their work to make the UK a great place for businesses to innovate - whether that is nurturing a culture of entrepreneurship, adopting tried and tested technologies or making breakthrough developments at the leading edge. She began her career in financial services before moving into policy, working on policy areas from R&D and entrepreneurship to skills, immigration, and diversity in STEM.