UK companies kick-start tech R&D push

British businesses are seeing a major surge in R&D spending as the need to embrace new technologies becomes more important than ever.

A survey from Barclaycard found that four in ten British companies (42 percent) have increased R&D spending in the last five years in order to stay ahead of the competition.

In particular, the survey of 100 CIOs from major UK businesses found that 30 percent are looking at or using connected Internet of Things solutions, with 56 percent set to implement some form of IoT within the next five years.

Blockchain is also taking a major role, which 35 percent having adopted or are piloting some form of the technology, 45 percent using or testing artificial intelligence (AI), and 20 percent using or testing quantum computing.

Processing payments has also become a much greater focus for 42 percent of CIOs, with three-quarters (73 per cent) saying payment technology has become an increasingly prominent topic in boardroom discussions. 

CIO change

The presence of this new technology and the innovations it brings means big changes for the role of CIO, which the report found is now one of the most crucial among the entire C-Suite.

35 per cent of those surveyed said that they now work in closer collaboration with their CEO than previously, and 78 per cent believe today’s CIOs need a broader skill set than they did five years ago, as they focus on meeting wider business goals. 

At a wider scale, 72 per cent of CIOs believed their colleagues across the business to be more tech-savvy than five years ago, and a similar proportion (71 per cent) said their C-Suite colleagues are now more knowledgeable about technology issues.

“While technology developments like artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things have been the subject of much discussion in recent years, our data shows this isn’t just hype," said Keith Little, CIO, Barclaycard."In fact, many CIOs are already well underway with testing and implementing such technologies to benefit their business. AI and machine learning, for example, are opening up new capabilities to benefit customers, such as fraud detection and customer insights.

“Over the next five years, the technology transformation of UK businesses looks set to gather pace as the solutions currently at pilot stage enter mainstream use across organisations. With this in mind, it’s important that CIOs focus on building the skills and expertise of their employees as an ongoing priority.”

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.