Firms fear startups will wipe out their business models

Established businesses may struggle to keep up with digital advances

stressed man

Almost half of UK companies fear their business models will disappear in the next five years, being rendered irrelevant by digital advances, according to new research by Microsoft.

But while many are worried about the impact of technology on their businesses, there is also an unwillingness to adapt to new work practices, Redmond's survey of 1,000 business and IT leaders found.

For example, around half of respondents fear that senior leaders unwilling to make changes to the business will stifle future growth.

"New challengers, many who are digitally savvy startups, are disrupting established markets by deploying new technologies quickly, and luring expectant customers away from established competitors," said Microsoft UK's general manager for marketing and operations, Nicola Hodson.

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"Whilst this research indicates that business models are breaking, many business leaders appear unwilling to address them."

Half of all respondents say they fear the impact of disruption will hit within the next two years, with this figure rising to two-thirds within the financial services sector, which contributes 66 billion to the UK economy in taxes.

Changing cultural attitudes has also fuelled fears that older generations of workers will be left behind, with a third of respondents fearing that more senior workers will be unable to keep up with their younger co-workers in some ways.

However, the public sector is one of the most precariously positioned; two-thirds of public sector respondents said that they had no formal strategy in place for using digital technology to solve business issues, and 65% believe that their leadership team is digitally illiterate.

"The dawn of the fourth industrial revolution is a massive opportunity for British businesses but many are still living in an age of innocence or inertia, when they need to be innovating," Hodson said.

"For many larger organisations, the challenge is how to react to this market disruption in a considered way and how they maintain competitiveness in a rapidly shifting landscape."

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