What’s your digital IQ?

Emerging technologies

According to research by consulting firm PwC, the UK is leading the charge in digital IQ. Yes, that’s a thing. In their 2017 version of a survey they’ve run for the past 10 years, PwC looks at how firms around the world use digital technology, comparing U.K. companies with their European and global counterparts. It seems our report card is pretty good.

Emerging technologies are the future

For emerging technology, such as augmented reality, robotics or 3D printing, the survey found U.K. companies are better prepared for embracing these trends and tailoring them to suit their own business needs than many companies in the rest of the world. PwC argues U.K. companies have better plans in place to determine how to use these new technologies for business, and presumably, customer, benefit, rather than being swayed by what the vendors are pushing in their sales drives. In fact, the survey reveals the companies who believe their use of emerging tech is driven by customer need is greater in the U.K. — 49%, vs. 39% around the world and 38% in Europe, with financial services and industrial manufacturing companies at the top of the pile.

U.K. spending more than rest of the world

Spending on emerging technologies is also higher in U.K. companies. The greatest share of budget is currently being spent on the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence (AI). Whilst the applications of robotics are more transparent in the manufacturing or medical research sectors, for example, it will be interesting to watch how these technologies expand their reach into daily consumer lives. In fact, although the public sector is currently leading the pack in budget spent on AI, 97% of retail and consumer goods companies in the survey are focusing on robotics and augmented reality for the future.

Digital skills a-plenty

Despite these trends, there’s still a place for us human beings, thankfully. Technology is one thing, but its application in the right place at the right time, is of course, critical to success. And for that, we need a workforce with the right skillset and the right mindset for the future. And again, we are out in front with 43% of companies surveyed saying a lack of digital skills is not an issue, versus 36% globally and 32% in the rest of Europe. What’s more, only a small number of respondents claimed employees saw these emerging technologies as a threat to their future job security.

Relevance is king

With the political uncertainties of Brexit, then the U.S. election, and continuing global financial and socio-economic events, it’s all too easy to submit to a feeling of gloom, or at least a sense of the unknown, about the immediate future. But here at least, it appears the U.K. is embracing the opportunities presented by new technologies, and most importantly tailoring them to suit the needs of their customers.

As we know, technological innovation has many benefits, including higher profits and quicker access to information, for example. But without strategic intent driven by customer need, complex technologies can overwhelm a company’s resources and staff with a kind of ‘jump on the bandwagon’ approach. This can mean companies ignore the need for a true understanding of their relevance in their particular company. And that is where innovation can become too hot to handle. The trick is understanding its application in your business, large or small, and maintaining a laser-like focus on the end goal for your customers, rather than for your P&L. Get it right and that bit will inevitably take care of itself.

Read the full PwC UK Digital IQ 2017 survey report

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