Jersey’s Future Economy – The Only Way is Digital

Jersey’s Future Economy – The Only Way is Digital

This guest blog has been written by Dame Wendy Hall DBE, FRS, FREng, who is Non-Executive Director for Digital Jersey, Dame Wendy is also Regius Professor of Computer Science, Associate Vice President (International Engagement), and is an Executive Director of the Web Science Institute at the University of Southampton.

The explosive launch of ChatGPT alerted the world to the amazing recent advances in AI technology. Many of us believe that the advent of Generative AI and improvements in other machine learning tools will be as transformative to the world economy as the web has been.

In the past, highly skilled knowledge economy jobs were thought to be safe from automation and yet suddenly those jobs don’t look so safe. At the same time, most advanced economies are facing serious demographic challenges as smaller working populations will need to support growing ageing ones. These two massive forces are converging across the world and will force the end of business as usual and present exciting opportunities for those willing to transform.

Of course, Jersey is already starting to feel these forces: As a global exporter of business services with over 20% of jobs in financial and legal services Jersey should be capitalising on the surge in AI progress and forging ahead of its competitors.

Embracing the need for change and putting digital technology at the heart every sector now will secure the next generation of Jersey’s economic success and future-proof the Island for the decades to come. While wholesale change always seems daunting my experience of working in Jersey tells me you are more than up to the task.

Impact Jersey

The launch of Impact Jersey offers a huge opportunity to get started and accelerate technology adoption and transformation. With the first round of grant applications now in, I’m excited to see the ideas that Jersey organisations have put forward, but with digital technology proliferating in so many ways I can already imagine numerous exciting future scenarios.

I’ve been delighted to be part of the Jersey working group that this year has created the world’s first legally constituted data trust, LifeCycle. This innovation positions the local trust industry to expand into a ballooning market for stewarding data assets as AI adoption explodes. The pilot project led by Digital Jersey has drawn on the expertise and hard work of entrepreneurial individuals from over 15 local organisations including trust companies, law firms and technology businesses alongside the Government of Jersey and the regulators JOIC and JFSC. The ability and willingness of the Jersey community to come together and innovate in this way is unique and a great example of Jersey’s long habit of adapting to thrive for the long term: By moving early and investing in the development of these new services now, Jersey is positioning itself to take the lead as data asset stewardship becomes mainstream over the next decade.

Cows and data

In a completely different sector: I hear that the Jersey cow is now the second most popular dairy cow on the planet and Jersey milk, highly valued for its provenance, is exported across the world. Jersey farmers are already taking advantage of dairy technology to optimise their herd health and yields and are building a valuable bank of data and insights as they go. This digital knowhow, in combination with newly available DNA data from the Herd Book and the knowledge passed down through generations of farmers could form a valuable new export opportunity for local farmers to provide remote herd management services to farmers around the world.

In the virtual reality worlds of the future virtual Jersey will give you new ways to market to visitors and opportunities for enriched experiences on island. Taking a stroll down St Ouen’s beach at sunset, checking out a hotel’s rooms and spa and having a personalised chat with a Visit Jersey guide bot will no doubt convince people to visit. Once on island visitors could experience life under occupation at the War Tunnels or help defend Elizabeth Castle in the Battle of Jersey to add a new dimension to being here in real life.

And of course, the finance industry will undoubtedly be at the vanguard of digital transformation with AI and automation unlocking much higher productivity and improved services.

Proprietary AI assistants trained on firms’ historic in-house data will become standard and allow for numerous efficiencies: complex new fund and trust structures will be drafted in an instant, accounting and reporting will be automated yet tailored to individual client’s needs and risk and compliance officers will finally banish the friction of bureaucracy to focus their attention on genuinely sensitive cases. Meanwhile investment managers will be monitoring numerous new market signals to get ahead on returns and managing new novel digital assets including data. By becoming more agile and efficient in delivery, the staff of the finance sector will be freed up to focus on clients and improving and focussing high value services.

Opportunities for all sectors

It’s clear that there are myriad opportunities for digital technology to improve and enhance every sector of Jersey’s economy and the only thing that can hold you back is your will to change. Business and organisation leaders who embrace the need for transformation now will reap lucrative rewards. Simultaneously making an island-wide commitment to upgrading the digital skills of the whole population will pay off both in the short and long term.

The push for digital skills transformation is already on with Digital Jersey offering numerous courses through the Academy, but this is only the start of an on-going digital learning journey which everyone needs to be part of.

When I first joined Digital Jersey’s board I was intrigued by this small, independent island jurisdiction and its culture of forging its own entrepreneurial path. I’ve seen how powerful this culture can be and I urge you to call on this spirit once more to take a new leap. Like the 1960s and the finance sector, now is the time for another economic transformation to seize on all the benefits that digital technology can offer. The prize will be a richer island economy and a better place to live now and for future generations.

Next steps for all

You can contribute by:

  1. Responding to the Digital Economy Strategy consultation (including coming to a drop-in session on Wednesday 1 November)
  2. Read and consider the Future Economy Programme
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