UK businesses see emerging tech as ‘a cost rather than investment’

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For a country with such a history in pioneering technological advancements, it’s concerning that UK businesses consider innovations a hindrance. 

Computers, the World Wide Web, televisions, jet engines, lightbulbs, radars, telephones… all British technological inventions that many of us now take for granted. However, the UK is now falling behind in adopting new technologies.

Research from BT and YouGov found that more than 50 percent of business leaders are not even familiar with half of the technologies listed in their survey.

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As you can see, the responses suggest none of the technologies has reached over 50 percent adoption. Only VoIP, first created around the mid-90s, has gained any kind of traction.

31 percent of business leaders shockingly reported they’re not even aware of AI. 60 percent said they’ve never heard of ‘as-a-service’ solutions like SaaS.

Companies generally don’t believe emerging technologies will provide any benefits to their operations. Almost half take such a position when it comes to 5G, while even more (57%) see no commercial benefit to investing in machine learning and AI.

Chris Sims, Managing Director of Commercial and Marketing at BT Enterprise’s unit, said: 

“The research reveals that a significant proportion of UK businesses view new technologies as a cost rather than an investment to help boost growth. It’s clear that businesses need more support; whether that’s understanding what technologies to adopt, how to maximise the potential of that technology, and how that translates into commercial success.

As the 5G network continues to roll out across the UK, it will support the delivery and uptake of other emerging technologies like IoT, AI, and VR. 5G coupled with these technologies will play a critical role in fuelling the post-Covid recovery, by boosting productivity, delivering new customer experiences and creating new business models.

Just one in five of the surveyed businesses have attempted any form of IoT deployment.

In fairness to the businesses—of those who have adopted emerging technologies, 40 percent say they were unsuccessful and don’t believe they’ll reap any benefits from their investment.

Perhaps predictably, the IT and telecoms industries are the leading adopters of new technologies—but still just 26 percent. The health and education sectors are lagging the most in adoption.

Financial pressures, especially in this current climate, is the leading factor in holding British firms back from investing in emerging technologies. A third report that it’s a shortage of skills.

“Whilst the research suggests that uptake of emerging technology is slow, the understanding and adoption of these technologies will increase as 5G becomes more prevalent,” continues Sims.

“Businesses that can harness this early on can reap significant benefits; saving time, boosting efficiencies, unlocking innovation, and creating a sustainable future.”

(Photo by Steve Smith on Unsplash)

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