Procurement · 19 October 2015

Embracing tech could lead to the creation of 1.1m new jobs for British businesses

Executives feel investing in tech will lead to impressive digital growth, particularly in London
Executives feel investing in tech will lead to impressive digital growth, particularly in London

The UK’s businesses think they could tap into nearly £100bn of economic growth and create over a million jobs, if they invest effectively in tech.

A survey of over 1,000 executives by Oxford Economics for Virgin Media Business, found that most were positive about the potential benefits of investing in new tech – though they predicted the capital would reap the majority of the rewards when it came to the anticipated growth.

While the execs feel some 300,000 jobs will become unnecessary – notably in financial services – another 1.1m would be created thanks to investments in digital services like software development, data analytics and customer relations. The general belief was that the number of roles in critical areas of the firm would rise, particularly among professional and tech services.

Over half of the jobs would develop in London and the South East, though the research suggested all regions across the UK would see more jobs created than lost.

The move could add £92bn to the economy, with improvements in sales channels and lower costs (adjusted for the effect on corporate competition during the taking up of more digital services), according to the research.

“Companies tend to be somewhat over-optimistic when forecasting, but this figure nevertheless demonstrates a level of confidence in the potential of digital to create jobs,” it stated.

Increased spending on digital capabilities could add up to £27bn to UK plc’s revenues.

According to the most recent figures from ONS, the business sector performs the most R&D of any sector in the UK, accounting for £18.4bn of expenditure in 2013. This was nearly two-thirds of total expenditure on R&D performed in the UK. While £4.1bn went towards pharmaceuticals, some “2bn was spent on computer programming and information services, £1bn on technical testing and analysis among other business activities and £800m on consumer electronics and communication equipment.

Much discussion has been had over the advance of tech and what it holds for the future of all manner of jobs, though it’s often spoken about on a wider scale. For small businesses though, technology has “allowed for the removal of traditional barriers and it is now easier than ever to start a business and scale up incredibly quickly” according to Frank Lansink, the European CEO of IPsoft.

“New entrants to the market can leverage AI from every angle and become a huge success – and threat to others – almost overnight,” he added, pointing to the examples of Uber and Airbnb.

Adopting new technology can also allow businesses to cut down on overhead costs – a stumbling block for many firms, particularly early-stage ones.

While some may be concerned about the challenges technology will bring, for many executives the risk that comes from not adopting it “is far higher than for those who embrace it”, Lansink warned.

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Rebecca is a reporter for Business Advice. Prior to this, she worked with a range of tech, advertising, media and digital clients at Propeller PR and did freelance work for The Telegraph.

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