How often are we asked to sit and daydream about the future?

Pausing for breath and analysing the tech sector is not an easy task, given how fast-moving and complex it is. To help provide business leaders with a contemporary analysis, HSBC held its Future is Here conference in London, looking at how technology could be set to change our world forever.

The event was attended by over 130 delegates – many of whom were the pioneers of the ‘avant-garde’ technology that is pushing the boundaries of what we think is possible – such as Ultrahaptics, who exhibited at the event.

Serial investor Simon Devonshire OBE was also at the gathering, alongside James Pomeroy, who is a global economist at HSBC.

Following networking and an exhibition, a series of talks and debates looking at AI, disruption and the future of technology was kicked off by HSBC’s Amanda Murphy, who is Head of Commercial Banking UK.

She was introduced by Roland Emmans – the bank’s UK Technology Sector Head, who organised the event.

Amanda said: “The technology sector accounts for 17 per cent of UK GDP and is the fastest growing (sector) in the country. We’re at the vanguard of it here and it’s not a case of what if, as it’s happening now and as a professional community we need to do all we can to support the businesses and entrepreneurs making change in the sector. Therefore, we recently launched a £12bn fund to help support UK plc and the tech sector.

“As a word of caution though – it’s vital that we’re not solving yesterday’s problems today and ensure we’re finding the solutions needed for tomorrow’s world.”

Futurist Nick Jankel, who is also the founder of Switch On – then took to the stage and asked guests: “How often are you asked by your employer to daydream about the future of your business? It’s important that we do this and find time to think about where we and our businesses fit in this ever changing world.”

He then went on to say that the UK was in the throws of the fourth industrial revolution and that the impact technology will have on our lives remains unknown.

“AI, for example, has the potential to have a monumental impact on ours lives but we don’t know exactly in what areas and how yet. AI is already being implemented in some law firms and it is 30 per cent more efficient at some tasks but it has failed miserably when it has been deployed in the field of cancer research. The point is though, that if it can have such an impact in the legal profession, it can happen to anybody and any sector and those that adapt to this change will be the most successful.”

Nick also said that technology leaders have never had such political responsibility and the pioneers of AI, big data and the internet of things (IOT) must be a force for good; and that the one thing that is certain, is that change is inevitable.

“The businesses that don’t adapt and offer a positive culture for their staff will become second rate. Nobody knows what is around the corner and if you just think for a second about some of the world’s leading brands and how disruptive their business models are, then the future is exciting and scary.

“For example, the world’s largest taxi company owns no taxis (Uber), the most watched TV network owns no content (Youtube) and the world’s largest media company creates no content (Facebook). Who would have thought this would be the case twenty years ago?” he concluded.