53% Of UK Businesses Expect Significant Digital Disruption By 2020

Technology has changed the business landscape beyond recognition, and more than half of the UK’s businesses are struggling to keep up

changeIs Your Business Transforming With the Times?

Technology has changed the business landscape beyond recognition, and more than half of the UK’s businesses are struggling to keep up

According to sources as diverse as Time Magazine and Jeremy Corbyn, we are in the throes of the fourth industrial revolution. The business landscape today, with its global clients, remote workers, online transactions and big data analytics would have been unrecognisable to business leaders a generation ago.

The problem is that while technology might move at a rapid pace, many businesses struggle to do the same. The concept of corporate digital transformation is too often seen as a “nice to have,” when the truth is that businesses that fail to transform with the times will find themselves left behind.

What causes digital disruption?

If businesses can see it coming, why are they apparently adopting a “rabbit in the headlights” approach to the spectre of digital disruption? In the majority of cases, it comes down to a very human constraint that predates technology, and that is a reluctance to implement change.

It is a classic example of the sharpening the saw story that is so popular with business coaches. Senior leaders are reluctant to implement what they see as a potentially disruptive regime of change, despite the most compelling evidence that it will bring rapid benefits and keep them competitive. Instead, they just keep hacking away at that tree trunk with an ever blunter saw.

New insights driving business

Every aspect of modern life is data-driven. Each mouse click, online purchase, Google search or social media like creates its own data stream, that provides valuable insights for those who are willing to adopt data science and machine learning technology to use them.

This can be seen in every industry – take the medical profession as an example. Traditionally, if a patient goes to their doctor with certain unusual symptoms, he will draw on his expertise and consult with colleagues. He will then study case files, looking for similarities, and ultimately will use this information about past cases to arrive at a probable diagnosis.

Data analytics and machine learning can automate this process so that the computer will not just do the same thing, but it will study thousands, even millions of past cases, and it will do it in a matter of seconds. There will always be a place for skilled doctors, but when it comes to studying trends and drawing conclusions on the basis of data, there is no comparison, and the machine learning option is clearly many times superior.

Struggling against obsolescence

The medical example is pertinent for anyone who is not a doctor – because it is always easier to see things objectively from the outside. Within the eye of the storm, it is easy to picture a General Practitioner still insisting on consulting his tomes of literature, and taking an hour to make a diagnosis that an IT system could have made with a thousand times more accuracy in seconds.

Yet this is effectively what so many businesses are doing. Almost half acknowledge that their business models will cease to exist within the next two years. Now is the time to transform the business, so that there is something viable to replace them.

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