Technology dominates the top ten trends of UK executives

10 July 2018 4 min. read
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Businesses face a myriad of trends and challenges over the coming period, with hurdles including digital disruption and a depleted human resource pool. Amid this ever changing environment, more than a quarter of companies have pencilled technological solutions into their plans as key trends, according to a new study.

A survey from LACE Partners performed in 2018 has marked out some of the key boardroom trends for the coming 12 months, with the key theme underlining each being technology. LACE’s researchers polled 250 people – over half of whom were in senior leadership roles – about workplace trends, with six of the top 10 being identified in the tech field. Foremost among all of them was artificial intelligence (AI).

The top trend was mentioned by nearly 26% of people. AI is currently being deployed in a transformative manner across multiple industries, including banking – where it is helping lighten the regulatory burden on financial institutions – and in the energy and utilities sector, which is leveraging the technology to improve efficiency and power management. As a result, the wide topic including all intelligence demonstrated by machines is effectively inescapable at present.


AI was also joined by a host of other digital trends in the top ten. These included blockchain, robotics, automation, bots and data and analytics. They were joined by non-digital trends of Brexit and wellbeing or wellness, at just over 5% each.

Brexit presents businesses challenges in terms of access to talent and skills shortages. An increasingly likely outcome of Brexit negotiations looks set to be a clampdown on immigration, meaning less people will be able to work in the UK from sources which previously had easy access. Meanwhile, those already in the UK are leaving in increasing numbers, particularly those who are most highly skilled. With EU citizens currently working in the UK currently accounting for 7%, or 2.3 million of the workforce, UK businesses could soon face major human resourcing hurdles, particularly due to the nation’s ageing population.

Kevin Green, a member of the LACE Partners Advisory Board commented, “In an already tight labour market where we are close to full employment, businesses are struggling with labour, skill and talent shortages... This trend will turn the current shortages into a fully blown crisis.”

Augmented or mixed reality

The survey also demonstrated a seismic shift in the way people are using other visual technologies both at home and at work. Last year, LACE found that only 12% of their sample had been using virtual reality (VR), although with VR headset sales expected to approach 200 million units by 2022, that figure increased substantially to 76% in 2018. On top of this, 49% of people said they had used augmented reality both at work and at home, while 15% had used mixed reality, largely in a work place context.

While it is often discussed in terms of the future of the entertainment sector, augmented reality (AR) is now becoming an everyday part of many people’s working lives, according to the researchers. This is particularly the case for those working in engineering, as AR allows for better learning than ever before, based on the principle that the human mind processes technical information presented in a 3D format faster and more efficiently than having to translate it from a 2D perspective. Likewise, VR is becoming a mainstay of many professional training programmes, including a growing number of A&E doctors who have prepared for surgery using VR systems, before having to undertake the real-life version.