According to research from Cisco, 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.
Whilst navigating a landscape of unprecedented change, leaders are now 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.
Social is important
Leaders, consumers and employees care about social impact.
The research found that 69% of business leaders view a balance between social purpose and profit as important, compounded by expectations of consumers (70%) and employees (60%) for organisations to have a focus on their broader social impact — with 56% ultimately more likely to buy from businesses who do.
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%) of business leaders in the survey believe they must make changes to their business because of new technologies.
The majority of respondents think technologies that power automation, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning have a key role to play in guiding the new era of business. These new technologies will factor into business-critical decisions in the future.
Technology that’s powering the working revolution
People and their skills will define the competitiveness of UK business
As business in the UK is increasingly shaped and defined by technology, leaders in the survey believe that more than half of job roles will change, with two thirds prioritising upskilling employees with digital skills and 74% actively trying to increase access to new skills.
“We are in an era of extraordinary change which is both catalysed and enabled by technology,” said Scot Gardner, Chief Executive, Cisco UK and Ireland.
“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.”
Cisco’s research highlights that technology has the potential to spur the UK’s business environment, if business leaders have a clear focus on their impact on people, their partnerships and their purpose:
The research shows a clear need for business to both skill and re-skill tomorrow’s workforce to support a thriving and evolving digital economy.
Whether it’s solving the world’s biggest problems, becoming more productive or helping businesses be more competitive, one thing is clear: nobody can do it alone. Encouragingly, 64% of business leaders identified collaboration as a key success factor for their next step.
How CIOs can achieve the collaborative workplace of the future
Having a strong vision for the business, and its impact on society, is more important to employees and customers than ever.
The majority of business leaders agree that it is important that what they do next brings wider benefits to society, yet when it comes to taking action, only 15% are driven by social good or impact beyond their businesses as a priority.
Despite nearly all business leaders turning to technology, 84% do not consider ethical implications to be a substantial barrier to business transformation. This trend will certainly change as social implications gain wider attention.
Oversight of social impact should not be underestimated with 70% of consumers and 60% of employees stating that they are more likely to remain loyal to organisations that care about their impact on society.