UK business leaders set deadline of 2020 to transform organisations with priorities on people, technology and greater social purpose.

With 70 per cent of consumers stating it is more important than ever that businesses care about their broader impact – on society, the environment and people, it is not wonder CEO’s across the board are seeking to push radical change. New research from Cisco highlights that 80 per cent 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.

The survey highlights that leaders, consumers and employees care about social impact, with 69 per cent of business leaders viewing a balance between social purpose and profit as important, compounded by expectations of consumers (70 per cent) and employees (60 per cent) for organisations to have a focus on their broader social impact, with 56 per cent ultimately more likely to buy from businesses who do.

It also finds that 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 per cent) of business leaders believe they must make changes to their business because of new technologies. Seventy-eight per cent 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.

Finally, people and their skills will define the competitiveness of UK business: the survey states that as business in the UK is increasingly shaped by technology, leaders believe that more than half (55 per cent) of job roles will change, with two thirds prioritising upskilling employees with digital skills and 74 per cent actively trying to increase access to new skills.

Scot Gardner, Chief Executive of Cisco UK and Ireland said that,

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.

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