Business leaders call for response to technology driven change

Business leaders around the world are looking for a co-ordinated global response to the change that is being driven by technology advancements, according to research on 1,400 business leaders from around the world.

An overwhelming 84% of leaders are in favour of this, with half believing this response should be led by intergovernmental bodies (such as the United Nations), followed closely by individual governments (46%), businesses themselves (37%) and industry bodies (35%). Worryingly, 76% of global business leaders do not feel that their own or other international governments are currently doing enough to plan effectively for the impact of technology driven change.

The world in 2030

These concerns from business leaders have been unveiled alongside Fujitsu’s Timeline 2030, developed in partnership with Trajectory. Timeline 2030 sheds some light on what the world around us might look like in 2030 as a result of key change factors such as advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, the ageing population, digital citizenship and Internet regulation.

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The Timeline 2030 report outlines a positive and a negative scenario based on the choices made by business and government leaders, societies and individuals between now and then.

The trends were identified through a robust horizon scanning process; this involved the analysis of broad range of trends to understand the drivers of technology demand, social change, business and globalisation, as well as other key factors.

When reviewing these trends, business leaders highlighted automation (86%) as the most significant by some margin (86%), followed by perpetual learning and digital citizenship (73% each).

Overall 59% believe that the impact of technological development will be positive by 2030. But as the call for a global co-ordinated response shows, they acknowledge that action is required.

“Rapid technological change is causing enormous shockwaves, and its disruptive impact on the world of business is already being seen,” said Duncan Tait, corporate executive officer, SEVP and head of Americas and EMEIA at Fujitsu.

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“But there’s another side to the story – the human one – as technology begins to fundamentally change our lives, at home and at work. We have already seen some of the early implications of technological change, from rapidly making traditional skills outdated to even undermining faith in traditional institutions. We must acknowledge and engage with the challenges that this presents, as well as the opportunities. Otherwise, technology may very well leave people behind.”

Responding to change

Business leaders believe that the starting point for preparing for technology driven change is a focus on the changing skillset required; nearly half (46%) believe upskilling the current workforce would be the most valuable measure, followed closely by 41% who are looking for a change to the education curriculum.

A further 37% believe that investment in technology infrastructure (such as high speed internet) is key, while 36% think that business and technology specialists need to form stronger partnerships.

Specifically within their own organisations, business leaders expect the most impactful trends in the next 15 years to be the world online (37%), automation (30%) and the ageing population (24%).

However, over half of business leaders admitted that they are not doing enough to prepare their businesses for the level of change anticipated. Just under half are investing in innovation and a similar number are focused on upskilling existing employees. Currently only 28% of businesses are altering their business strategy to plan for the impact of technology.

>See also: 5 ways the modern workplace is changing

“We are at a crossroads: we have the choice to take action now and use technology to take us on a path to prosperity, or otherwise face the consequences,” said Tait. “While the transformative power of automation is huge, if we move too quickly and replace workers on a large scale, we will see high levels of unemployment and labour unrest. By contrast, if businesses take a steady approach and work with governments to invest in STEM, creative and soft skills, we can implement automation in a way that frees workers to do more valuable – and engaging – work. Equally, we must adopt a new approach to education, ensuring not only that our young people have the right balance of technical and soft skills, but that workers of all ages engage in lifelong learning to adopt to new technologies.”

“In every major challenge that we face – whether that be an ageing population, sustainability or urbanization – we need to take a coordinated and considered approach to the role of technology. Timely and co-ordinated action across global governments, business, education and society as a whole will ensure that we have the right leadership, skills and workforce to embrace change and prosper. We must ensure that as technology advances and we enter the next digital paradigm, it is to the benefit of everyone.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...