How businesses can embrace artificial intelligence, blockchain and the internet of things
20 October 2017
Security & skills the top concerns for companies investing in new tech
Over the next five years, the top three technologies that are set to move from the fringes to the business mainstream are Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain and the Internet of Things, according to CBI research.
In the CBI’s new report, Disrupting the future, sponsored by Vodafone, the UK’s leading business group highlights how firms and the government must pave the way for adoption of cutting-edge technologies, tackling the barriers that businesses are facing:
Only a third of businesses say their company has the skills and capabilities needed to adopt AI technologies
Blockchain can be used across sectors and will require regulator co-ordination to set clear standards
The main concern for businesses looking to adopt the Internet of Things is the security and privacy of devices.
The CBI is calling on the Government to establish a joint commission in early 2018 involving, business, employee representatives, academics and a Minister, to examine the impact of Artificial Intelligence on people and jobs, setting out plans for action that will raise productivity, spread prosperity and open up new paths to economic growth.
The CBI sets out further proposals on how the Government can help create the right environment for growing businesses to thrive and take advantage of the opportunities afforded by new technologies. These include:
The General Data Protection Regulation sets a clear framework for safeguarding the data generated by IoT devices. The priority for government should be passing the UK Data Protection Bill so companies have adequate time to prepare for the new rules.
Blockchain technology spans different sectors and will require regulatory co-ordination at both a domestic and international level to avoid fragmentation and encourage industry collaboration. Regulators should work closely with the different industry consortia and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to share best practice and learnings.
Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:
“Much is made of new technologies and how they will impact companies in 10 or 20 years, but these are no longer ideas on the fringes and are shifting rapidly into the business mainstream.
“The UK must lead the way in adopting these technologies but we must also prepare for their impacts. That’s why we urge the Government to set up a joint commission on Artificial Intelligence in 2018, involving both business and employee representatives, to better understand the impact on people’s lives, jobs and our future economic growth.
“Artificial Intelligence solves problems. Blockchain changes how businesses exchange value. The Internet of Things unlocks big data. Companies of all sizes, in any sector and across the UK have a golden opportunity to benefit and lift their productivity. “Businesses that invest and innovate tend to grow quicker and get the best out of their workforce.
“But while these technologies are in action now, regulatory hurdles, security concerns and finding people with the right skills, mean that many firms are slow to adopt.
“Gene editing, space tourism, self-driving vehicles, robotic limbs, floating farms, London to Sydney in four hours. Innovations like these will shape the course of the next decade and many will improve lives across the globe. It’s up to business, government and employee groups to make sure the UK economy leads from the front.”
Minister of State for Digital, Matt Hancock MP, said:
“We want the UK to lead the way in emerging technologies and welcome today’s report from the CBI.
“Alongside our independent review into Artificial Intelligence last week, our ambitions are aligned on the need to embrace the opportunities of the digital revolution.
“In our manifesto, we committed to establishing a data use and ethics body which would work with industry to answer some of the vital questions on the impact of big data and Artificial Intelligence, and so create the right conditions for digital businesses to thrive.”
Notes to Editors
The three specific cutting-edge technologies that the report focuses on are:
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI is an umbrella term to describe technology that exhibits behaviours that appear intelligent and autonomous. From predictive text to deep neural networks – AI is an evolution in computing and the way we look at data.
The AI wave will be transformational and widespread, half (49%) of business believe it will fundamentally transform their industry/ market.
23% of businesses said AI was already having an impact on their sector, while 37% said it would have an impact on their sector in the next five years. (CBI Innovation survey 2016)
Blockchain at its heart is just a virtual record of transactions. These digital, encrypted exchanges can be anything from the movement of data, goods or money. Transparency and security are the foundations of Blockchain. In practice, this means that everyone in the Blockchain network has access to the information about a transaction. Crucially, verification of a transaction is achieved by relevant users in the Blockchain agreeing to the exchange.
11% of businesses said Blockchain was already having an impact on their sector, while 27% said it would have an impact on their sector in the next five years. (CBI Innovation survey 2016)
Internet of Things (IoT)
The IoT is a concept used to describe an asset that has been fitted with a sensor that produces data on its use. A ‘thing’ can be anything from industrial machinery, to streetlights and even household products. IoT earns its disruptive innovation potential through its ability to open up the possibilities of big data. It enables businesses to understand what’s happening in their operations in real time and chart a path towards significant productivity improvements.
54% of businesses said the IoT was already having an impact on their sector, while 30% said it would have an impact on their sector in the next five years. (CBI Innovation survey 2016)