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Connectivity the key to Fourth Industrial Revolution

Over the years, mankind has perfected industry by evolving it to become more efficient, more productive and more advanced, with technology and innovation creating seismic shifts in the way we live and work.

The First Industrial Revolution saw the transformation of the world economy from manual labour to mechanisation. Thanks to the mass extraction of coal and the invention of a new type of energy, steam, we created our first railroads, factories and banks.

Scotland played a significant role in this revolution – the Scottish Enlightenment – and brought the country to the front of intellectual achievement in Europe. Between 1870 and 1914 along came electricity, gas and oil. The steel industry boomed. Machines became the backbone of industry and mass production propelled our economy forwards. The invention of the telegraph and the telephone – cue Scotland again – revolutionised the way we communicate. Cars took to roads and the first plane took off.

The Third Industrial Revolution saw the development of two major things, nuclear energy and electronics – the first transistor and microprocessors built us our first computers, then our first robot. This was followed by the rise of information technologies and automated manufacturing. This revolution is ongoing yet we’re now in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, an exponential expansion like nothing we’ve ever seen before.

Breakthrough technologies such as advanced robotics, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, virtual and augmented reality and ‘wearables’ are transforming production processes and business models across different industries.

But these technologies all rely on one thing – connectivity. When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than linear pace. Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country and the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management and governance.

From manual dial-up in the ‘90s to today’s daily demand for gigabytes of bandwidth, we now need to fuel this unprecedented demand for better infrastructure in the UK and Scotland to help us keep up with the rapid pace of change in industry and in our lives. The demand for data and people’s expectations are growing at such a rate that wide-reaching digital connectivity is essential; Openreach is determined to help deliver that for Scotland.

To do that, we need highly skilled and motivated people. We are investing more than £500,000 in our training centres in Livingston and Dundee to make sure the hundreds of new engineers being recruited this year have the right skills to deliver the nation’s fibre future creating the platform needed for enhanced productivity. #WeareOpenreach

Katie Milligan, Managing Director, Customer, Commercial and Propositions at Openreach will be speaking at this year’s SCDI Forum.