What Does it Take to Digitise a Country?

By Hema Marshall at Cisco Blogs

Without question the UK has an innovation heritage we can all be proud of: from inventing the telephone to the World Wide Web, we also spearheaded the first industrial revolution with British cities like Manchester & Sheffield at one point being the workshops of the world.

Skip forward to 2016 and we’re in the heart of the fourth industrial revolution: a digital revolution characterised by a fusion of technologies that is increasingly blurring the lines between the physical, digital and even biological. The scale, scope and complexity of transformation unfolding around us is unprecedented and it’s widely accepted that this technological revolution and move to a truly digitised world will fundamentally change the way we live and work.

What’s less understood is how we manage and embrace this change. Digital disruption will displace 40% of companies in the next five years (Cisco/IMD Digital Vortex Research, June 2015) but organisations and countries that are ready for digital transformation will be able to seize new opportunities to thrive.

So just how ready are we here in the UK?

The Cisco Digital Readiness survey set out to discover just that by surveying IT leaders in 8 countries across 8 industries and rating their readiness on a 100 point scale. Even the most advanced companies scored only 77, with the UK scoring 75, compared to Germany at 72. And it seems that there are some key issues facing IT departments globally and in the UK. 43% of UK IT leaders cite security as their primary concern in an increasingly connected world, and the ability of IT to respond to change and demand is limited – only 33% of UK businesses are able to deliver on IT requests within 48 hours.

While the UK may not be performing badly on the global stage, more needs to be done and in a world where every day brings new technological innovations, time is of the essence. And of course, successful digitisation relies on more than just technology and effective IT: consideration needs to also be given to business models, processes, skills and culture.

In recognition of this, we announced a number of strategic commitments in the UK in July 2015, totalling an investment of $1B over the next 3-5 years to support the UK’s digitisation plans and accelerate digital economic growth. It’s part of an initiative we call Country Digitisation Acceleration, a blueprint that we’re rolling out across the globe and here in the UK we’re working in partnership with HMG to focus on key issues such as Productivity, Education & Skills and enablers such as Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Infrastructure, Cybersecurity & Smart Cities.

Undertaking such a major programme is about more than just a large corporate investing money in the country. That’s obviously important but we passionately believe that by working collectively with the combined force and capabilities of academia, industry and government, we can drive, support and foster a culture and climate ripe for digitisation. Together, we can collectively address some of the major challenges facing this country and ensure that the UK continues to strive ahead in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Digitisation has the potential to create sustainable and positive impact for every area of society as well as drive a stronger economy and foster increased opportunities for the UK. That’s good for the country on the global stage, good for businesses and – most importantly – good for the people who live and work throughout the country.

To hear more about just how important our Country Digitisation Acceleration initiative is, watch our Chairman John Chambers share his thoughts

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