2 February 2024

HSBC Research Shows Human Skills Will Remain Critical for Businesses Amid Technological Advances

A total of 86% of business leaders are focused on leveraging technology to maximize staff skillsets.

(NEW YORK) – The power of human interaction will continue to play a critical role in business over the coming decade, even as technology, such as AI, robotics and quantum computing dramatically reshapes entire sectors and business models, according to a new HSBC report: Digital Horizons: How emerging tech will shape tomorrow’s business.

According to the research, which surveyed 2,900 business leaders across eight markets globally, respondents plan to invest in their workforce to maximize the opportunities new technology will bring: 86% are looking at how emerging technologies can help advance employee skillsets; 83% are planning to re-train their workforce and 82% are investing in new talent in response to rapid advances in technology.

“New technologies present both opportunities and challenges for businesses as they deliver on their growth ambitions, but it remains clear from this research that people-driven collaboration is at the forefront of an organization’s ability to innovate,” said US Head of Commercial Banking Wyatt Crowell.

“The fourth industrial revolution will transform businesses as new technology and ever-increasing levels of automation are integrated into the workplace,” said HSBC Global Head of Commercial Banking Barry O’Byrne. “What our Digital Horizons report makes clear is that successful businesses will not see a diminished role for human skillsets. To remain competitive, businesses will need to harness new technology to empower teams to perform better, more efficiently and more creatively. This agility will require new ways of thinking and working, and different capabilities.”

A new era of cross-sector and cross-border collaboration

Collaboration has been identified by the HSBC Digital Horizons report as fundamental to business success in the coming decade. A large majority agree that more collaboration within their organisation (85%); and with other players in their sector (84%) will drive growth. But most business leaders also agree that collaboration outside their own sector (82%), and beyond national borders, through international partnerships and networks (83%), is key to success.

The report highlights leading strategies businesses most favor to enable this new era of collaboration. The most favored approaches include greater focus on technology-driven, agile ways of working (47%); while 36% believe embracing partnerships with smaller and nimbler industry entrants is important.

The research revealed four trends that will drive fundamental change and bring new opportunities for businesses through digitalization over the next decade:

  1. Borderless Business - a new era championing a global outlook and networks where successful businesses adapt to embrace global talent, supply chains and relationships
  2. FLIT Organisations - the rise of organizations focusing on a flexible workforce, lean processes, innovative business models and tech-driven operations
  3. Inclusive Automation - a workplace where businesses focus on the positives and gains of AI and automation, enabling and upskilling talent to embrace this mind set
  4. Creative Edge – organizations that cultivate a culture that champions open-mindedness, independent thinking and innovation will gain the competitive edge in the market

Technology’s role in long-term success

Business leaders surveyed recognize that technology is central to growing their businesses over the next decade, highlighting their most important areas where technology will play a role as increasing revenue (27%), improving customer service and experience (26%) and reducing cost (26%). Robotics and automation, augmented or virtual reality, machine learning, and generative AI were identified as key areas for investment and growth.

While business leaders acknowledged a lack of familiarity with some of technologies driving longer-term change – only 31% of businesses globally are familiar with robotics and automation, optical character recognition (26%) and quantum computing (26%) - the majority (86%) feel confident in their ability to keep up with technology advancements over the next decade.

The research was conducted online by Toluna, who surveyed a sample of 2,900 C-suite or business decision makers, between 13th November and 18th December 2023. All participants are aged 21-65, employed by companies with an annual turnover of US$2.5-50m, have banking, finance, insurance or accounting as a job responsibility and are either sole decision-makers or involved in the decision-making process for business banking products and services. Respondents are based in mainland China (300), Hong Kong (534), India (304), Mexico (318), Singapore (305), UAE (302), UK (527) and US (310). Weighting has been applied to the data to ensure that each market is equally represented at the global level.

Media enquiries to:

Matt Kozar
Vice President, External Communications

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HSBC Research Shows Human Skills Will Remain Critical for Businesses Amid Technological Advances (3-page PDF 172KB)