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2 posts from August 2019

20 August 2019

Is tech driving disruption, or vice versa?

by Sheetal Vyas Director, PwC United Kingdom

Disrupt or be disrupted is the mantra of today. But what does disruption mean in practical terms for your business? What is driving it? And how should you respond?

The assumption is often that disruption is being driven solely by changes in technology. But the reality is while technology may contribute towards disruption, it will also be our best bet for responding to something far more complicated.

Fundamental global shifts – rapid urbanisation; climate change and resource scarcity; the shift in global economic power; demographic and social change; and technological breakthroughs – are all reshaping societies, industries, economies and behavioural norms worldwide.

It’s the collision between these megatrends which creates not only the risk for the future but also the opportunity for businesses to respond and to show their customers and employees that they are in control, managing and capitalising upon, unwieldy issues that are causing understandable concern and confusion.

Technology, and emerging technology in particular, has a key role to play in this response. At PwC we analysed the business impact and commercial viability of more than 150 technologies and identified what we call the Essential Eight; those technologies that will have the biggest impact during the next five years.

Many of these emerging technologies, including AI and drones, will be vital in tackling some of the challenges presented by the collision of these global megatrends. Emerging tech is already being used to better understand climate change and resource scarcity and to respond to those challenges. Drones and data analysis are helping farmers improve crop yields with intelligent crop management systems, AI and the Internet of Things will be key to smart energy grids and smart city infrastructure. Automation and autonomous vehicles will help respond to the challenges of increasing urbanisation and the pressure that will put on existing transport networks.

In industries such as insurance we are seeing businesses explore the ability of drones to augment the way in which they assess claims or evaluate risk. They are embracing wearables and telematics to provide customers with more personalised health or car insurance. But this isn’t purely a reaction to the availability of these technologies, it is a reaction to social change and evolving consumer demands and expectations. It is also a reaction to the awareness that if they do not respond, their fiercest competitor will.

Addressing the impact of these disruptive trends should be a priority for every organisation today. At PwC we have developed a tool, called Horizon, that maps over 100 disruptors against the five global megatrends. This helps us and our clients assess and understand how specific disruptors may affect their organisation and start planning a response.

Through that kind of understanding organisations can start to plan for both threats and opportunities and develop an understanding of how their fiercest competitor could respond.

However, while technology will inevitably provide solutions to many of the headaches and challenges of disruption, the real answers lie not in deploying an easy checklist of technologies but in understanding the challenges your organisation is trying to solve first - the factors driving disruption and how that disruption will impact your organisation - and then thinking about the role of technology in the best possible response.

You can explore disruption related to autonomous vehicles further at ‘Driverless: Who is in control?’, a free exhibition at the Science Museum in London. PwC is sponsoring the exhibition as part of our focus on promoting the responsible, ethical use of AI in business and society.

If you would like to discuss these issues, or the impact of emerging technology on your industry, then please get in touch with Leo Johnson.

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by Sheetal Vyas Director, PwC United Kingdom

07 August 2019

"Amazing but scary": Why it’s time to build trust and belief in drones

by Joanne Murray UK Drones Assurance lead

Drones have incredible potential to transform business. But to realise this potential, and unlock benefits - such as a predicted £16 billion in net cost savings to the UK economy by 2030 - there are significant challenges to overcome.

One of the biggest challenges is around trust, among both businesses and the public, fuelled in part by high profile incidents, misunderstanding and negative media coverage. Concerns include accidents, improper use, invasion of privacy and noise pollution.

However, as with many new technologies there is also excitement which must be nurtured and encouraged. One member of the public, surveyed for PwC’s Building Trust in Drones report, summed up the technology as “amazing but scary.”

From that starting point, the job to be done is to build trust by accentuating the positives and addressing the concerns, through a focus on three key factors: Education; Accountability; Reward and benefit.

It is human nature to trust things more when we understand them, how they can benefit us and how they are controlled and regulated. We can already see public opposition to drones reduces when people are presented with specific, beneficial use cases. And it is important these use cases aren’t far off or fanciful, but rather show the real, tangible benefits drones can make today.

There are hugely beneficial uses of drones, from search, rescue and disaster relief in remote areas to significantly reducing the cost, complexity and risk of building inspections or surveying physical infrastructure. The use of drones is driving real business benefits.

For example, at PwC we have worked with a large real estate portfolio to inspect roofing across the many sites it manages and maintains. Using drones proved 65% cheaper and 83% faster than the traditional method, taking people up cherry-pickers equipped with binoculars and cameras.

In another project, we have used a drone to conduct a stock count audit for energy firm RWE. The drone captured over 300 images of the coal reserve at one of the UK’s last remaining coal-fired power stations at Aberthaw in South Wales. These images were used to create a ‘digital twin’ of the coal pile to measure its volume and calculate its value. In contrast, the traditional method involved climbing over the coal pile and using a GPS tracking pole to measure the area.

There are countless other examples, across industries such as agriculture, oil and gas and construction, where drones are already delivering tangible business benefits.

If we are to realise the full potential of drones we must all work harder to raise awareness about the positive use cases and the benefits to businesses and wider society.

The focus must be on developing society’s confidence, giving businesses and the public reasons to believe in the benefits the technology can deliver to help drive acceptance and increase adoption.

You can explore these issues at ‘Driverless: Who is in control?’, a free exhibition at the Science Museum in London. PwC is sponsoring the exhibition as part of our focus on promoting the responsible, ethical use of AI in business and society.

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by Joanne Murray UK Drones Assurance lead