However, said one respondent, there are real fears that “the rapid pace of change in some of these markets means there is a chance you place a bet on the wrong technology or the wrong digital process. Hence, we require people to come and help guide us to the right and appropriate answer.”
TechUK’s Hide adds, “The process of upgrading and changing technologies can be both complex and disruptive, and therefore more expensive, so we find changing to a new system to be very challenging.”
When asked which technologies would be the most disruptive, 29% of survey respondents pointed to big data and analytics, 25% highlighted artificial intelligence, and 13% said the Internet of Things.
“A lot of industries, including ours, will be heavily disrupted and in the end, it will all come down to productivity and costs,” said one construction and infrastructure firm. “Automation will provide the next business case with new technologies in the future. That will potentially put a lot of people out of work very quickly and that is not what we are looking to do.”
But they added, “The biggest opportunity is automation that makes everything safe, so we don’t have to put people in hazardous environments underground, at height and in confined spaces.”
Anecdotally, the biggest risk raised by the shift to digital ways of working lies in the resilience and security of systems. Many survey respondents expressed concerns about the need to balance the personal security of customers’ data against the value that the data creates. “Security is the biggest concern. Because everyone is talking about openness, interconnectedness and so many platforms and mediums,” one company said, “the biggest concern will be to see how secure we are, as one loophole can bring the entire system down. No matter how secure you are, people will find ways to crack your system.”
There are also fears about people being left behind by the digital revolution. “My biggest concern is the risk of people becoming more disconnected from the environment around them,” explained one of those surveyed. “If everything is virtualised, there is a loss of real world experience and people become more isolated from the physical world.”
However, one respondent highlighted how high the stakes are in the digital transformation: “I think simply the challenge is ‘change or die.’ If you are not prepared to investigate, exploit and deploy the digital capabilities in your business, you will lose business. You will lose customers, you will lose market share and you will lose economic prosperity. Because the customers have that choice, the capabilities are available and if you don’t offer them, your competitor will.”