A study has revealed that continued digital investment could help to grow the UK economy by up to £232 billion by 2040.
The research, carried out by Virgin Media Business and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), looked at what possibilities could be created if the UK adopted digital transformation.
Data suggested that, by 2025, digital transformation could increase the county’s GDP by 2.8% (£74bn). This would help to support the country during its recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as having an impact on that way people work.
UK GDP is estimated to reach approximately £2.8 trillion by 2030. However, increased investment in Covid-accelerated digital transformation could deliver additional growth to push GDP to around £3tn – an increase of 4.4%.
Without the adoption of digital tech, the country’s baseline GDP is estimated to be approximately £3.3tn. However, Covid-accelerated digital change could result in an uplift of around 7% to just under £3.6tn.
The data also suggested that a boost in digital investment would have a positive impact on employee productivity. Cebr found that there was potential for a 12% growth in productivity for employees who can “take full advantage of Covid-accelerated digital transformation”.
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Commenting on the impact of Covid-19 on business, Cristian Niculescu-Marcu CFA, Director of Economic Analysis, Cebr said: “The Covid challenges facing the UK, and the entire world, are extremely serious.
“The economic impacts alone fall far short of capturing the scale of the pandemic’s toll on people’s lives and wellbeing. Focusing on the economic implications, however, history shows us that periods of economic hardship can help to catalyse technological progress and adoption, as businesses and other stakeholders seek to adapt to new realities.
“Within this research, we have examined the potential economic impact of a wave of digital transformation driven by the rollout of new ways of working and connecting.
“This could create an economic high road over the coming decades, helping the UK economy to grow while having the flexibility to deal with future challenges.”
The study looked into the added benefits of digital adoption in business and public sectors, revealing that efficiency can be improved, whilst cutting costs across the board.
Increased use would also boost the availability of data, which can then be applied through artificial intelligence and smart systems, Cebr says.
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Stephen Moir, Executive Director of Resources at Edinburgh City Council, said: “Digital is now at the heart of the way we work.
“Previously we would’ve taken three weeks to clear 400 applications from landlords. When we automated that clearance process, we had 80% cleared in three hours. Freeing our staff up to focus on the complex ones that needed a conversation.
“Our approach to automation is not to reduce jobs. We have used it to remove the need for our people to get involved in unnecessary, high-volume work. There’s more time for empathy, judgement and face-to-face human interaction. We don’t want technology to cut things, we want to do things better.”