Season 5, Post 1: Eyes on the future

Welcome to the fifth season of the Future Trends Blog. As in previous years, our intention is to share with our readers new and interesting developments that…

Season 5, Post 1: Eyes on the future

Welcome to the fifth season of the Future Trends Blog. As in previous years, our intention is to share with our readers new and interesting developments that help us to understand the future better (and then invest in it), on a roughly weekly basis. Since our very first ever thematic piece of work in 2011 was on data, it seems only appropriate to begin the year with a novel perspective on this topic.

We recently had the opportunity to catch up with the Head of Data Enablement at Specsavers, one of the UK’s largest private companies. Similar to your author, Robbie Priddle is a keen oenophile. Wine is also a relevant metaphor when it comes to considering data in the sense that both terms are misleadingly broad. Just as a bottle of fine Bordeaux is very different to a supermarket Californian plonk, so data management needs to be considered as a very different skill set to data science, data visualisation or data engineering. Big organisations such as Specsavers need to employ people across all these disciplines and part of Robbie’s role is to ensure that data and analytics is a “collaborative team sport.” This is a lesson other businesses should heed.

Good businesses need the right data tools. Robbie highlighted emphatically that “if you’re not in the cloud then you’ll be left behind.” We concur. With only about 20% of all workloads globally currently in cloud environments (per IBM), the runway ahead is significant, in our view. When it comes to artificial intelligence, Robbie noted that it was a “most over-used term… thrown at almost any data science use case.” More important, in Robbie’s view, is machine learning. This discipline is critical for building any predictive model, whether it be for forecasting or generating a propensity score (how likely might a customer be to buy a product). Needless to say, the larger your dataset, the better the outputs. 

When asked where the biggest areas of growth for analytics lay, Robbie highlighted retail and people. To return to datasets, Specsavers is hoping to leverage its insights in order to improve the clinical and shopping experience in its stores; how, for example, can you optimise layout in order to improve satisfaction and efficiency? For many businesses, staffing constitutes probably the biggest variable cost. With better analytics based, say, around employee activities and engagement, it’s possible to begin to predict which employee may be most susceptible to churn and potentially to pre-empt this. Underpinning both these topics, however, is a consideration of data ethics and privacy. This was a topic we first discussed last year but expect only to grow in importance in 2023. 

5 January 2023

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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The above does not constitute investment advice and is the sole opinion of the author at the time of publication. Past performance is no guide to future performance and the value of investments and income from them can fall as well as rise.


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​​​​​​​Alex Gunz, Fund Manager ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Disclaimers

The document is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute investment advice or any recommendation to buy, or sell or otherwise transact in any investments. The document is not intended to be construed as investment research. The contents of this document are based upon sources of information which Heptagon Capital LLP believes to be reliable. However, except to the extent required by applicable law or regulations, no guarantee, warranty or representation (express or implied) is given as to the accuracy or completeness of this document or its contents and, Heptagon Capital LLP, its affiliate companies and its members, officers, employees, agents and advisors do not accept any liability or responsibility in respect of the information or any views expressed herein. Opinions expressed whether in general or in both on the performance of individual investments and in a wider economic context represent the views of the contributor at the time of preparation. Where this document provides forward-looking statements which are based on relevant reports, current opinions, expectations and projections, actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. All opinions and estimates included in the document are subject to change without notice and Heptagon Capital LLP is under no obligation to update or revise information contained in the document. Furthermore, Heptagon Capital LLP disclaims any liability for any loss, damage, costs or expenses (including direct, indirect, special and consequential) howsoever arising which any person may suffer or incur as a result of viewing or utilising any information included in this document. 

The document is protected by copyright. The use of any trademarks and logos displayed in the document without Heptagon Capital LLP's prior written consent is strictly prohibited. Information in the document must not be published or redistributed without Heptagon Capital LLP's prior written consent. 

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