Future technology explained: The Deep Web


Future technology explained: The Deep Web

Welcome to the emerging technology blog series by Peter Crush, Festival of Work Editor-at-large and HR Journalist of the Year 2018. In the first ‘2 minute read’ in the series we look at The Deep Web – what it is, why it’s important to businesses like yours, and which companies are already taking advantage of its potential.

In the first of a regular series on the sort of emerging technology which impacts the people profession, we look at how a deeper delve into the world wide web can not only make everyone a futurologist – it gives them much more accurate predictions too.

What is the Deep Web? Google handles 3.5 billion requests every day – that’s around 40,000 a second. But it’s only the very tip of the internet iceberg. Search engines only find parts of the web that have been indexed, which is only around 4 per cent of everything that’s out there. The rest comprises both the unsavoury ‘dark web’ and the more practical ‘deep web’ – a bits and bytes universe brimming with data and insight. It’s home to a host of academic papers, public records, extranets, and obscure sites with limited size or viewership. To the right person though, they could be a goldmine of industry advantage-giving information.

What’s in it for the people profession? In a future where success and sustainability will be won or lost based on who has the best insight, finding every crumb of useful data will be a pursuit in its own right. Experts are already calling this activity ‘horizon scanning’ – which is basically future-gazing, but based on facts. Data collected could reveal emerging trends or the sorts of new and disruptive technologies that could either impact the future supply of talent, or help validate long-term people plans already being considered.

Is it science fiction or fact? A new generation of technology businesses are currently creating the tools to help HR leaders harvest the deep web, and digest what’s there to glean genuinely real insights. Not only are they promising to uncover so-called ‘unexpected outliers’, they’re testing their own gathering technology too, using machine learning to see whether the predictions their mining technology makes prove correct. You don’t get that sort of validation from speaker-circuit futurologists.

Who’s doing it? Skills Future Singapore – a business which works in partnership with its government’s Future Economy Council – is already using horizon scanning and deep web diving technology to look at evolutionary trends in healthcare, finance and ICT to help companies understand what their future competencies will be. HR professionals at oil giant BP are working with AI start-up Amplyfi to model how emerging technologies relate to future skills availability. Amplyfi’s chief strategy officer, Ian Jones, says: “The rest of the internet is 500-600 times bigger than what you can normally see. Getting at this gives fantastic opportunities for gaining macro-insights.”

About the Festival of Work:

The CIPD’s Festival of Work (12-13 June 2019, Olympia London, www.festivalofwork.com) promises to be a landmark event for both people professionals and business leaders. By focusing on the most innovative strategies in management, technology and learning, the festival will help you, and 7,000 of your colleagues, to harness the latest transformations and drive a human future of work. With 7,000+ attendees, 130+ inspiring speakers, filled with inspirational live experiences and challenging ideas, it’s the ultimate celebration of people in the workplace.


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