Over the next five years, the top three technologies that are set to move from the fringes to the business mainstream are Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain and the Internet of Things, according to CBI research.
In the CBI’s new report, Disrupting the Future, sponsored by Vodafone, the UK’s leading business group highlights how firms and the government must pave the way for adoption of cutting-edge technologies, tackling the barriers that businesses are facing:
Only a third of businesses say their company has the skills and capabilities needed to adopt AI technologies
Blockchain can be used across sectors and will require regulator co-ordination to set clear standards
The main concern for businesses looking to adopt the Internet of Things is the security and privacy of devices.
The CBI is calling on the Government to establish a joint commission in early 2018 involving, business, employee representatives, academics and a Minister, to examine the impact of Artificial Intelligence on people and jobs, setting out plans for action that will raise productivity, spread prosperity and open up new paths to economic growth.
The CBI sets out further proposals on how the Government can help create the right environment for growing businesses to thrive and take advantage of the opportunities afforded by new technologies. These include:
The General Data Protection Regulation sets a clear framework for safeguarding the data generated by IoT devices. The priority for government should be passing the UK Data Protection Bill so companies have adequate time to prepare for the new rules.
Blockchain technology spans different sectors and will require regulatory co-ordination at both a domestic and international level to avoid fragmentation and encourage industry collaboration. Regulators should work closely with the different industry consortia and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to share best practice and learnings.
Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:
“Much is made of new technologies and how they will impact companies in 10 or 20 years, but these are no longer ideas on the fringes and are shifting rapidly into the business mainstream.
“The UK must lead the way in adopting these technologies but we must also prepare for their impacts. That’s why we urge the Government to set up a joint commission on Artificial Intelligence in 2018, involving both business and employee representatives, to better understand the impact on people’s lives, jobs and our future economic growth.
“Artificial Intelligence solves problems. Blockchain changes how businesses exchange value. The Internet of Things unlocks big data. Companies of all sizes, in any sector and across the UK have a golden opportunity to benefit and lift their productivity. “Businesses that invest and innovate tend to grow quicker and get the best out of their workforce.
“But while these technologies are in action now, regulatory hurdles, security concerns and finding people with the right skills, mean that many firms are slow to adopt.
“Gene editing, space tourism, self-driving vehicles, robotic limbs, floating farms, London to Sydney in four hours. Innovations like these will shape the course of the next decade and many will improve lives across the globe. It’s up to business, government and employee groups to make sure the UK economy leads from the front.”
Minister of State for Digital, Matt Hancock MP, said:
“We want the UK to lead the way in emerging technologies and welcome today’s report from the CBI.
“Alongside our independent review into Artificial Intelligence last week, our ambitions are aligned on the need to embrace the opportunities of the digital revolution.
“In our manifesto, we committed to establishing a data use and ethics body which would work with industry to answer some of the vital questions on the impact of big data and Artificial Intelligence, and so create the right conditions for digital businesses to thrive.”
Responding to the CBI’s report, Duncan Tait, CEO and Head of Fujitsu EMEIA and Americas, commented on the need for business and government to collaborate:
“We’re already seeing the immense impact of artificial intelligence in some industries, and this is a trend that’s only set to accelerate. However, right now businesses are simply not prepared. Our research found that 83% of UK business leaders believe that artificial intelligence will transform the skills needed in their organisation by 2020 – yet even today 9 in 10 report that they have a digital skills gap.
“As a society, we must work together to ensure that artificial intelligence has a positive impact on both our personal and professional lives. Businesses have to act responsibly, and help to upskill existing workers as new technology is introduced. Artificial intelligence can enable us to do more interesting and exciting work, by eliminating routine and repetitive tasks. As a technology, it offers incredible possibilities, from enhanced medical diagnosis to advanced customer service. But we must remember that there is a human, as well as a business, side to the story and take action now to ensure that artificial intelligence works in everyone’s interests.”