O2 CEO: How the digital revolution is driving the UK economy

Future road sign

CEO of O2 and Telefonica in the UK, Ronan Dunne, has explained how the next wave of digital will be controlled by mobile and cloud technologies converging, but it's our children who will need to drive this change forward.

Speaking at Microsoft's Future Decoded conference earlier today, he said the UK and European economy's future growth will be driven by a digital revolution.

"We may in fact look back in time when we went from BC before connectivity' to AD after digital' and that is being driven by innovation and social media."

He described connectivity as the oxygen of modern life for consumers, while telecommunications are a major part of the country's infrastructure in the economy.

"More people on the planet have access to a mobile phone than clean drinking water or a toothbrush," he explained, based on information taken from an Ofcom report.

"[Technology represents] the rise of individualism and growth of consumer power and access and accountability. Mobile is an accelerator of these for the future of our economy. This is the way businesses must change."

In the private sector, operational efficiency has increased 500 per cent since the ICT revolution started, Dunne said and it's expected to continue to be a growth driver with increases of 2.5 per cent a year.

Medium-sized businesses have the greatest reliance on mobile technologies and therefore they get the most productivity from it.

For companies to become more welcoming, though, infrastructure changes must be made and that is why O2 and other UK networks are investing 5bn in 4G.

"It isn't enough to expect the companies to rollout infrastructure for us to become a leader in the digital world. We need leadership, creativity and education to give us the innovation and provide us with the opportunities in a digital world."

He explained how our children may have the skills to use technology already, but we are not giving them the chance to use them creatively.

"Digital literacy is high but ambitions in education and parents is analogue. Parents would prefer their children to pursue traditional routes rather than modern."

In the future, millennials will make up 75 per cent of the workforce, but to make sure they're prepared, our generation needs to lobby for better education and foster entrepreneurism because data will fuel our economy, becoming the currency of the future, he added.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.