Business leaders set deadline to transform priorities on people and tech

Employment & Skills | Surveys | Technology

New research from Cisco highlights that 80% of business leaders in the UK have set themselves a deadline of 2020 to make dramatic changes to their organisations; from the jobs their employees do and the technology they use, to changing processes to boost productivity.

Based on a survey of more than 1,000 UK business leaders, the findings showcase that whilst navigating a landscape of unprecedented change, leaders are more aware than ever of the broader impact of their actions; placing focus on the skills of the people they employ, their use of technology to enable automation and having greater social purpose.

  • Leaders, consumers and employees care about social impact. 69% of business leaders view a balance between social purpose and profit as important, compounded by expectations of consumers (70%) and employees (60%) for organisations to have a focus on their broader social impact, with 56% ultimately more likely to buy from businesses who do.
  • Technology both necessitates and enables business change. Recognised as an opportunity for reinvention as well as a catalyst for skills development, almost three quarters (71%) of business leaders believe they must make changes to their business because of new technologies. 78% think technologies that power automation such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have a key role to play in guiding what they do next. Crucially, four-fifths view these new technologies as factoring into business-critical decisions in the future.
  • People and their skills will define the competitiveness of UK business. As business in the UK is increasingly shaped by technology, leaders believe that more than half (55%) of job roles will change, with two thirds prioritising upskilling employees with digital skills and 74% actively trying to increase access to new skills.

Scot Gardner, Chief Executive, Cisco UK and Ireland said: “We are in an era of extraordinary change which is both catalysed and enabled by technology. However, the opportunity presented by new technology cannot be realised in a vacuum. As the research highlights, business leaders in the UK see the need to focus on people, purpose and partnerships to have a positive impact on both the business environment and wider society – we now have to ensure we act upon it.”

Taking action

Cisco’s research highlights that technology has the potential to catalyse the UK’s business environment if business leaders have a clear focus on their impact on people, their partnerships and their purpose:

  1. People: The research shows a clear need for business to both skill and re-skill tomorrow’s workforce to support a thriving and evolving digital economy.
  2. Partnerships: Whether it’s solving the world’s biggest problems, becoming more productive or helping businesses be more competitive, one thing is clear: nobody can do it alone. Positively, 64% of business leaders identified collaboration as a key success factor for their next step.
  3. Purpose: Having a strong vision for the business, and its impact on society, is more important to employees and customers than ever. 69% of business leaders agree that it is important that what they do next brings wider benefits to society, yet when it comes to taking action, only 15% are driven by social good or impact beyond their businesses as a priority. Furthermore, despite nearly all business leaders turning to technology, 84% do not consider ethical implications to be a substantial barrier to business transformation.

Oversight of social impact should not be underestimated with 70% of consumers and 60% of employees stating that they are more likely to remain loyal to organisations that care about their impact on society.

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