2 June 2017


Driving innovation for business growth

Last week’s CBI Innovation conference saw the launch of CBI’s new report - Adopting the future which surveyed business leaders to understand how ready UK companies are to adopt – and adapt – to new digital technologies

Driving innovation for business growth

On Wednesday 24 May, over 120 delegates attended the CBI’s Innovation conference at the Renishaw Innovation Centre in Gloucestershire. Delegates heard from Dr Ruth McKernan CBE, Chief executive, Innovate UK, James Murray Wells OBE, Industry head of retail, Google UK as well as Deputy director-general of the CBI, Josh Hardie. Speakers focused on how business innovation is fundamental to economic prosperity, highlighting that businesses that embrace new products, processes and technologies become more productive, challenge existing business models and grow quickly. 

The conference also saw the launch of the new CBI report, Adopting the future which emphasises that while some trailblazing companies are leading the charge to embrace the benefits and opportunities of digital, others risk lagging behind.  

Technologies such as cognitive learning, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are emerging as key areas of growth. The current pace of change in technology is unrivalled and individuals, companies, and governments are under pressure to keep up.

The CBI survey shows that half of businesses believe AI will fundamentally transform their industry. Half-measures will not be enough, businesses must be forthright, bold and honest in developing solutions to the coming challenges.

To become a world-leader in this field, the UK must be bold in embracing digital and not lag behind.

Below are some findings from the survey on AI:

  • Businesses are ambitious but divided: A third of businesses (33%) self-categorise themselves as digital pioneers - labelling themselves as early adopters and innovators but over a quarter (27%) saw themselves as followers of the digital revolution in business, who wait for technology to become mainstream before adopting
  • Agility is king: Investment in technologies like cloud and mobile, which were seen as niche just a few years ago, have matured to now underpin much of UK business.
  • Yet, there is a shift on the horizon: AI investment is gaining momentum with 42% of companies planning to invest in AI over the next 5 years. And that’s on top of the one in five companies who already invested in AI during the past 12 months
  • AI key to efficiency and competiveness: An overwhelming majority believe AI will enhance efficiency (79%), increase competitiveness (74%), be customer focused (72%) and offer a unique selling point in helping businesses differentiate their business from that of competitors (69%)
  • ‘Followers’ risk being left behind: For many companies, AI is either not in their investment plans (29%) or are not familiar with the technology (8%) and nearly 42% of ‘Followers’ do not plan to invest in AI at all. These companies risk being left behind as pioneering companies use their head start to seize the initiative and redefine their industry.

To secure the UK as the digital hub of the world, Britain needs many more businesses closing the gap with these ‘pioneers’ because the global race has well and truly started.

For more information please or to receive a copy of the report contact shane.murphy@cbi.org.uk