Digital investment to deliver £232 billion boost to UK economy by 2040

As digital transformation continues to accelerate, investment in the space could unlock a boost to UK productivity through enabling flexible working, improving access to services, and creating richer data for AI and analytics, according to the research.

Virgin Media Business and Cebr examined how more digital ways of working can support the UK’s economic recovery from Covid-19, with sector analysis revealing a major digital opportunity for organisations across the economy, despite rapid shifts already being made during the pandemic.

In the public sector, digital processes were found to potentially create efficiency gains and cost-savings which, when invested in improved services and new infrastructure, could create a boost worth £75 billion to national GDP.

Investments to digitalise health and social care, meanwhile, could be worth £33bn alone, while transforming justice, central and local government could be worth a further £32bn to the national economy.

According to Cebr’s analysis, the impact of digital investment could be worth an additional £40 billion in 2040 to the retail, professional services and construction sectors, with other parts of the economy also set to experience significant gains.

Additonally, the research identified how Covid-accelerated digital transformation could boost employee productivity, revealing an almost 12% productivity growth assumption for employees who can take full advantage, following expert interviews.

This would be substantively responsible for the economic uplift of 4.8% across retail, professional service and construction by 2040, driven by continued growth in flexible working, enabling the delivery of digital services and providing richer data sets for AI and analytics.

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“After the toughest of years, the UK has a £232bn opportunity ahead of it which we must now grasp with both hands. By continuing to invest in new digital ways of working, we can seize this moment and help UK businesses to bounce back better,” said Peter Kelly, managing director of Virgin Media Business.

“Moves to accelerate digital adoption are driving extraordinary outcomes across private and public sector organisations, helping them to revolutionise how they work, deliver for customers, and provide vital services for our communities.

“Through investing in our digital future we will support new growth, drive the UK economy forward and help the country to rebound stronger.”

Cristian Niculescu-Marcu CFA, director of economic analysis at Cebr, commented: “The Covid challenges facing the UK and the entire world are extremely serious. The economic impacts alone fall far short of capturing the scale of the pandemic’s toll on people’s lives and wellbeing.

“Focusing on the economic implications however, history shows us that periods of economic hardship can help to catalyse technological progress and adoption, as businesses and other stakeholders seek to adapt to new realities.

“Within this research, we have examined the potential economic impact of a wave of digital transformation, driven by the rollout of new ways of working and connecting. This could create an economic high road over the coming decades, helping the UK economy to grow while also having the flexibility to deal with future challenges.”

The full research from Virgin Media Business and Cebr can be found here.

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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.