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Top tech stats: AI at work, staff poaching among tech giants & more

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Welcome to your round up of some of the past week’s most interesting surveys, statistics and reports relevant to those involved in the UK tech industry.

This week, we have statistics relating to way in which AI could impact organisations, SME sentiment in the UK and the importance of cybersecurity in IoT.

Machines at work

More than 80% of deterministic tasks will be done by machines in the future.

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That’s according to research undertaken by IPsoft in partnership with academics at Godsmiths, which looked into how AI will transform organisations and the very nature of work.

According to the study, probabilistic tasks will be equally shared (50:50) between machines and humans, but humans are set to carry out 80% of all cross-functional reasoning tasks.

Dr Chris Brauer, director of innovation and senior lecturer at Goldsmiths, commented on the findings: “The real productivity benefits of AI will not be simply a factor of automating existing processes. The arrival of AI will engender entirely new, unknown possibilities for humans and what they can achieve.

“It is this new configuration of humans working alongside intelligent machines that will be the source of sustained competitive advantage. The result will be FuturaCorp – a Fortune 500 with the innovative flexibility of a Silicon Valley startup, or a startup with the IT power of a Fortune 500.”

Chetan Dube, CEO and president of IPsoft, added: “AI engenders emergent individual qualities, which push us to access the more complex parts of our minds. When routine work is automated, we will be able – and required – to flex our most human of skills. To do what the machines can’t, and likely never will be able to do. The future of society relies on individuals accessing higher reasoning, critical thinking and complex problem solving skills.”

Additionally, the research also found that the need for rapid and strategic skill transformation could lead to a near-term skills shortage.

Staff poaching among giants

A new study released by tech recruitment firm Talentful has show how 15 of the world’s biggest tech companies poach workers from their competitors.

Facebook, for example, poached employees from other social media sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn.

In contrast, Google took more than 4050 employees from Microsoft, which owns search engine Bing.

Despite most of the companies showing some plundering from Google, the multi-billion dollar company isn’t lacking for staff – they had the highest showing of poaching in the study, with just under 12800 staff taken from other technology companies.

According to the data, the top five poachers were:

  • Google – 12,798 of their employees came from other major tech companies.
  • Microsoft – while Google have taken 4151 of their staff, they’ve taken 896 in exchange.
  • Amazon – Amazon and eBay have swapped a few workers, with Amazon giving up 152 and taking 218.
  • Apple – Apple’s main rival is Microsoft, so it makes sense that they poach more employees from them than anywhere else: 1334 in total. They’re also keen on people from IBM and Intel.
  • IBM – while IBM have taken more staff in total than Dell, they’re vulnerable to their rival’s headhunting, having lost 2302 of their employees to them, while taking only 1753.

“There’s a huge amount of staff trading between companies,” said a Talentful representative, “And every time one company hires a staff member from another, they’re not just bringing in that person – they’re bringing in their whole network. People like to work with familiar teams who know the way they work, and they end up bringing their colleagues with them.

IoT and cybersecurity

In other news, some 48% of UK citizens are unaware that connected devices could be hacked and used to conduct a cyber attack.

A new IoT security whitepaper, which polled more than 2,000 people in the UK, highlights the impact that consumers awareness campaigns are having when it comes to both internet security and IoT.

Commenting on these findings, Thibaut Rouffineau, head of devices marketing at Canonical, said: “These figures are troubling, and should be a wake-up call for the industry. Despite good intentions, government campaigns for cyber awareness and IoT security still have a long way to go.

“But then that’s the point: Ultimately the IoT industry needs to step up and take on responsibility. Government education of consumers and legislation will have a part to play, but overall the industry needs to take charge of keeping devices up to date and find a way to eliminate any potential vulnerabilities from devices before they can cause issues, rather than placing the burden on consumers,” added Rouffineau.

SME sentiment

Less than half (45%) of microbusiness owners with fewer than five employees expect their company to grow over the next two years compared to almost three-quarters (73%) of larger scale SMEs. 

A new report commissioned by Albion Ventures, based on interviews with 1,000 SMEs, sheds light on the factors that create and impede growth among businesses.

The report found that microbusiness owners are much less likely to raise finance than larger SME firms: 82% of businesses with less than five employees have made no attempt to raise finance in the past year and have no intention of doing so in the next year compared to two-thirds (66%) of medium-sized firms.

Additionally, microbusinesses sounded a more positive note about Brexit with 43% predicting it will be help them enter new markets compared to 36% of larger SMEs.

Patrick Reeve, managing partner at Albion Ventures, said: “SME is a much used label but it’s important to look beyond this as size plays a tremendously important role in determining business sentiment.   The key point emerging from this study is that size really does matter and microbusinesses, many of which are sole traders in the ‘gig’ economy, appear far more concerned about their future growth prospects than their counterparts with more than five employees, which have the necessary scale to withstand market uncertainty. The message for policymakers is ignore microbusinesses at your peril given the vital role they play in driving the UK economy.”

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