New research explores Europe’s technology trepidation

Uncovering industry expert, business leader and employee views on emerging technologies and their expected impact

New research explores Europe’s technology trepidation

An extensive new report published today, explores the expectation and attitude of industry towards evolving technologies within retail, healthcare, manufacturing, education and the corporate world. Commissioned by Epson, the report tested the acceptance of insights from 17 global industry experts on 7,000 company leaders and employees in the five largest European economies. Findings reveal that over half (57%) of the European workforce believe industries and organisational models will be disrupted by technology and 6% agree that their individual roles will no longer exist. Yet despite this, when shown how technology could shape their workplaces, 71% expressed positive sentiment towards the future with 65% of respondents expressing a willingness to retrain for new roles.

This optimism may be in vain however if organisations themselves do not seek to maximise the opportunity afforded by new technology. Over three quarters of respondents said that technology would bring ‘increased profits’ and ‘open up new possibilities for growth’ for organisations that grasp the opportunities technology presents. But, with only 14% of employees considering their organisations ‘excellent’ at monitoring for new technology advancements, and 26% believing their organisation is ‘poor’ at training employees to use new technology, the question over whose responsibility it is to drive the implementation and use of new technology remains.

Top findings

  1. Risk of disengagement: 6% of the workforce stated they would ‘deliberately disrupt the introduction of technology’ if their job was threatened. This figure jumps to 12% for the younger generation and climbs higher still for senior management (17%).

  2. The intrigue-knowledge gap: Respondents found emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, augmented reality, wearables, collaborative technologies, and robotics ‘appealing’ yet felt they are only slightly ‘knowledgeable’ of them.

  3. Quick-wins or futureproofing: Almost one-third of respondents feel that their organisation is poor at communicating the impact of technological change on job roles. Furthermore, while 65% of respondents say their organisation is good at training employees to use new technologies, employers seem to be much better at getting new blood in when technological skills are needed (60%) as opposed to repurposing potentially redundant employees, which only 47% consider their employer good at.

  4. Creative re-emergence: 52% of the workforce currently working in a corporate environment believe that the workplace of tomorrow will become less productivity and results driven, and more flexible, remote and personal – becoming a place that nurtures spontaneous creative work. Furthermore, 71% of respondents agree that artificial intelligence will have the capacity to replace humans in repetitive and codified office jobs, and 65% agree that it will allow people to concentrate on creative aspects.

  5. The great organisational reshuffle: 74% of respondents agree that the concept of an individual being attached to a single company will weaken further over time and roles will become more flexible.

  6. Ultra-personalised shopping will rely on data barter: 72% of Europeans currently in retail agree that shopping will become more personalised with the automatic identification of customers in stores, with retail staff facilitating better experiences, heightening the role of brick-and-mortar high streets. Yet, while almost half (49%) of respondents accept that big data will have a positive impact on the industry, 42% believe customers will not trade data privacy for a more personal and tailored shopping experience (with the number rising to 64% for those aged 50 years old and above and only 50% for millennials (18-26 years old)).

  7. Customisation, localisation and reshoring: 65% of survey respondents think that products will be printed on demand, not manufactured in bulk. This will be made possible in part by 3D printing which, according to 60% of survey respondents, will enable manufacturing industries to reshore and localise activities.

  8. Cybersecurity is the greatest threat to manufacturing: 67% of the European workforce in the manufacturing industry agrees that cyber security poses the greatest threat, rising to 76% of those in management roles.

  9. New technologies in Healthcare will need to come with a mind-set shift: 71% of the healthcare workforce express positive sentiment about the benefits of technology and greater access to health data, and acknowledge the benefits of new technologies including robotics, organic and 3D printing, and augmented reality. But in an extremely time sensitive industry 70% agree that the time required to develop new skill sets could hold back the implementation of technology.

  10. Teacher as life coach: Get learning technology and training right, and teachers will be freed from many tasks to focus on the essential role of guide or ‘life coach,’ according to 70% of respondents.

“It is understandable that people today are concerned by advances in technology, but we also face great opportunity, if technology is managed well,” says Epson Global President, Mr. Minoru Usui. “Whatever our current livelihoods, our futures are going to be different and as these findings point out, there is an urgent need for more conversation between governments, organisations and society-at-large to ensure that we are all equipped with the skills to take on new roles and challenges.

“How we take ownership of this evolution will define our roles in the next 10 to 20 years,” he adds. “Technology is connecting us to new possibilities. As a company, Epson is dedicated to facilitating a positive technological shift by developing solutions that will make workforces more efficient and more productive. Our core technologies – wearables, robotics, visual imaging and printing technologies – are poised to deliver a positive version of this future.”

Want to know more?

The full report has all the insights, you can download it here.