News Release

Britain Reaps Rewards of IT

'Connected Conversations' uncovers the changes technology has made to British life over 25 years
Jul 07, 2010

LONDON, July 7, 2010 - Cisco has today released "Connected Conversations", a report examining the ways in which UK businesses and public services have been changed by technology over the past two and a half decades.  Documenting discussions between 25-year industry veterans and 25-year-old new starters across five sectors, the report identifies how industries, services, organisational structures and individuals' roles have changed over the last 25 years. 

The "Connected Conversations" study included teachers, doctors, small-business owners, public servants and marketers.  Alongside the discussions, the report also includes research polling the public's expectations for technology over the next decade.  15,000 members of the public in the UK and Ireland guessed at when they thought a range of technology services would be available.  Some of these services are already in use, and others are close to availability, but in a large number of cases, the public's expectations lagged considerably behind reality.  The average predictions are captured at the end of this release.  Findings from report include:

  • While becoming increasingly tech-savvy, the public still views technology as a bolt-on to existing processes; 68 percent believe we will be voting online by the next general election, yet 64 percent say it will never be possible to join their local council via a Facebook group.
  • Both public and private sector participants agreed that technology projects often get a bad reputation because those that succeed become invisible. Once a technological advance becomes the norm, it ceases to be seen as "technology".
  • While broadband speeds are edging up, there is an implicit understanding that it is the services this will enable, not the speed itself, which will bring changes over the coming decades. Whiteboards in schools, doctor consultations over video conference and rich multimedia streaming were all given as current examples of the positive effect of faster broadband.
  • The digitisation of data is one of the greatest legacies of the last 25 years, changing relationships and attitudes to information.  Over the next 25 years, the ability to use that data to provide improved and more efficient services – both governmental and business – will be a pivotal factor in the UK's ability to compete on the world stage as a knowledge economy.
  • Technology is at the heart of every large transformational project in Britain.  While those responsible for service delivery are still hesitant to adopt certain technologies, their fears of public rejection are unfounded.  Only 22 percent of Britons saw lack of public demand as a barrier to video telehealth doctors' appointments – most simply thought that the technology didn't exist.

Phil Smith, vice president and CEO of Cisco UK & Ireland, commented: "In the last 25 years, access to the latest technology has moved from being a closed specialism for the knowledgeable few to become an open and collaborative fabric of modern society. As such, tech-savvy consumers have wrenched control away from the organisational IT departments and are now shaping the future development of technology in British society.

"2010 is a year of change. Green technology, faster broadband, smarter business, the digital economy, community regeneration, infrastructure innovation, public sector efficiency – these are more than just buzz words; they're essential elements that will shape not just the UK's economy but arguably its place in the world as we know it. Technology has a huge part to play in preparing the UK for the future, and it's imperative that we are much more ambitious about what technology can achieve for us."

The British public's predictions for technology services:

  • ... start paying for parking meters on your mobile - 69 per cent say by 2012
  • ... view video coverage of sporting events on your mobile - 74 per cent say by 2010
  • ... start to watch more TV using the Internet than you do using standard television reception methods - 65 per cent say by 2012
  • ... watch your gas usage in real time, and pay as you go from your bank account if you choose - 60 per cent say by 2012
  • ... avoid the spread of germs by having routine GP check-ups over high-quality video rather than in person - 52 per cent say by 2018
  • ... have a 100 Mbps Internet connection to your house - 65 per cent say by 2015
  • ... vote online in elections - 68 per cent say by 2015
  • ... talk to people in space with the same call quality as a call to mum down the road - 51 per cent say by 2018
  • ... conduct all your work meetings by video conference rather than in person - 61 per cent say by 2010
  • ... hold a seat on your local council simply by joining the Facebook group – 64 per cent say never
  • ... have a fridge that orders your shopping for you automatically as you run low on your favourite foods - 51 per cent say by 2015
  • ... teleport – 69 per cent say never

The full "Connected Conversations" report can be found at:

Connected Conversations Video can be found at :

Key words:

Cisco, transformation, business, public services, research, 25 on 25, Connected Conversations