Developing a digital future; the first six months

Photo of man using Digital Futures platform on his smart phone

It’s hard for me to believe it’s only been six months since we all sat down to build the future of digital employment. The number of tasks completed, plans made, and assets built over that time frame has been huge, and yet it’s still only a fraction of the scope of our vision.

One of the strengths of a startup is that functions haven’t yet had time to separate out and become encapsulated, and there’s been a tremendous amount of cross-pollination between different teams. I might find myself discussing data modelling with the sales people, or learning about video editing from the data scientists; everyone has some input into everything and it’s vital to take advantage of that diversity of viewpoints, because it can diminish as an organisation scales up.

It would be easy for us in tech to become entirely sunk in the detailed mechanics of bootstrapping a business – every single communications link, every single data point captured, demands attention. But that doesn’t happen, because there’s just so much to look forward to.

One thing I’m particularly anticipating is the set of unique challenges that will come from scaling up what is essentially a people business without losing the personal touch. The system that matches individuals and skills to organisations that need those skills is increasingly complex and increasingly problematic. Some of those problems may be due to specific issues in components such as secondary education, but many of them arise from the fact that the digital skills marketplace is expanding incredibly rapidly in every sense. I’m seeing jobs with up to 4,000 individual applicants; how is an employer to maintain a personal approach under conditions like that?

Unsurprisingly, employers turn to automatic screening and machine learning to identify talent – but this brings a host of bias and transparency issues which create risk for engineers and employers alike. At Digital Futures we value fairness above all, and we have effective solutions to preserve equitability and inclusivity in a world of increasing automation. It will be a complex and interesting journey.

Even technology is a people business, and nowhere is this clearer than in the digital skills marketplace, where people and technology are brought together. Doing that at scale, while maintaining an absolute commitment to maximising the value of the individual, will be our most exciting challenge.