As the physical and digital worlds combine the opportunities for organizations which embrace innovation-driven Business 4.0 will continue to grow – so too will the stockpiles of data that we rely on.

The rise of machine learning and the data it produces will present limit possibilities for the companies that can harness it effectively, however, as time goes by it is important to ensure that closed data loops don’t present problems.

This is exactly what Professor Roderick Murray-Smith, Section Lead for Information, Data and Analysis at The University of Glasgow, is setting out to achieve.

Having been selected as one of just four UK academic institutions to share a £14 million research grant, Prof. Murray-Smith and his team of students are “looking at data science in closed-loop situations” and how this will help companies and communities thrive in a digital future.

Closing the loop to ensure future productivity

Not only are Prof. Murray-Smith and his team are exploring new ways of applying machine learning methods and how to develop algorithms to deal with large data, they are also using novel mathematics to obtain meaning from the ‘shape’ of data as well as how feedback loops affect data in real time.

Professor Roderick Murray-Smith from the University of Glasgow is exploring how data science can help companies and communities thrive in a digital future.

Addressing delegates at the inaugural TCS Innovation Forum Scotland in Edinburgh, Prof. Murray-Smith explained what a feedback loop might look like.

“Imagine a car park recommender in your city, it recommends the nearest car park that will likely have free spaces,” he says. “If the recommender works successfully and is deployed for lots of users, then its value will decrease over time – as the recommended car parks will more likely be busy.

“People using recommendations and rushing to the nearest free parking leads to decreased overall parking convenience. This constitutes a closed-loop feedback situation.”

It is hoped that Prof. Murray-Smith’s team will be able to help resolve the issue of the closed data loop., however, their chances of success will be much improved by wider industry-academic collaboration.

University partnerships hold the key to product progress

The University of Glasgow has worked alongside a number of global organizations, such as Microsoft, Nokia and Samsung, to help design cutting-edge products.

By welcoming PhD students on internships, these companies are already starting to reap rewards.

For example, University of Glasgow students were instrumental in designing a mobile phone, which was marketed towards young people in Indonesia, that allows the user to move the device around in their hand and actually ‘feel’ how many messages they have got.

As Business 4.0 is embraced on a global scale, these types of partnerships are going to be crucial for future progress in a world awash with data.

As Prof. Murray-Smith says, “the key is to get industry and academia working together”.