By Natalie Mortimer | N/A

December 3, 2014 | 2 min read

Brands must "open up" and encourage entrepreneurial thinking within their businesses if they are to drive innovation and keep abreast with future, data-driven economies, according to technologist and innovation strategist Rudy de Waele.

While many large brands such as Unilever and Coca-Cola have already accelerated plans for start-ups to make their products more innovative in the retail space, many are still hesitant to “open up” according to de Waele.

“The problem with large corporations is they are not able to open up or they don’t have the people who think like entrepreneurs. The worst thing you can do is not to do anything because then you move behind, you have to set up an open innovation programme, connect with start-ups, garner new ideas and turn these ideas into relevant, new services and products that can be implemented,” he said.

De Waele also called out robotics and artificial intelligence as the next acceleration of what the industry can do with technology, and predicted that it will affect "any type" of service industry in the future.

Speaking at The Drum’s Disruption Day, de Waele singled out start-ups as the best placed to access data and urged larger corporations to join forces with them and take advantage of their ability to “pivot fast” in the technology space.

“There are a lot of start-ups that are pivoting very fast because they have access to data,” he asserted. “I think big data is now still small data because we don’t have the sensors and connected devices, so we are still in an early frame of that, but having access to data is essential.

“If you have access to data you can see which services work – most of the data can be irrelevant but some of the data can be decisive for creating a new product or service. That’s how the start-ups are able to move fast.”

De Waele continued that larger corporations have more difficulty keeping apace as they “don’t have access to data and they don’t really know how to move with that data”. He added that data scientists are “the most important people” and predicted that in the future there will be around 1.5 million jobs for data scientists.

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