In the run up to the launch of our third annual Trends Survey, which looks at the transformative digital trends affecting UK organisations now and over the coming years, we were keen to share our early findings and gain some crucial business insight into them. We took the opportunity to hold a roundtable event with a small group of influencers, partners and customers – held last week at techUK’s offices in London and moderated by its head of policy, Vinous Ali – where we debated the state of the nation.
Our Trends Survey encapsulates feedback from over 1,000 respondents and, as with all of our annual reports, is designed to help us better understand the challenges and pain points affecting our customers. But we are increasingly finding it the starting point for a range of fascinating conversations above and beyond technology. Our event provided further evidence of this, showing how technology is impacting almost every area of life, both at work and outside.
The perceived impact of technology has been both positive and negative. From cyber security threats, data protection issues and threats about jobs, through to robots and chatbots and the emergence of the impact of the new generations on the workplace, technology has the potential to both invoke fear in people whilst conversely inspiring innovation and creativity. It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that the majority of business leaders struggle to switch off.
One of the over-riding topics of conversations at the roundtable was the importance of winning back time. In today’s culture of busyness, it is this precious commodity which everyone agreed was at the heart of the debate.
Technology that automates processes and delivers productivity gains – to win back time – was a message that really resonated. A mental health charity discussed the impact of giving its clinicians more time and how ten minutes spent on paperwork – that could be easily automated with the right digital tools – means ten minutes less to interact with and care for patients.
The same conversation – albeit with different terminology – took place with those from the legal sector, allowing barristers or solicitors more time with their clients. Another example was the automation of patient referral processes in the NHS – removing 36 minutes per referral – an impressive figure considering the trust receive around 80,000 new GP referrals a year.
Vinous summed it up nicely: “What we’ve identified is the value of how you can put time back in people’s pockets – that’s the real opportunity. You want the care worker to be with patients and the lawyer in the court room.”
For others, winning back time was simply for thinking. David Hardman from Innovation Birmingham talked about the fear of missing out affecting everything. “People don’t have time to think and it is effecting productivity. We don’t have time to stop and reflect. It’s as if you need permission to switch off.”
We debated more interesting trends and issues – all of which will be revealed at the CBI Conference on the 19th November. The input and insight will inform the way we report back on the results from our annual Trends Survey. And, with winning back time firmly on the agenda, we’re looking forward to revealing the disruptive technology trends that we hope will help all organisations to switch on to the benefits of technology, in order to switch off more in the future.