A MAJORITY of business leaders believe their organisations will not survive if they fail to embrace the potential of digital technologies, research suggests.

That means the digital skills that are celebrated in Dorset will be needed across all areas of business, according to a leading voice in the sector.

A report for Vodafone found that although 82 per cent of south west business leaders were confident of their ability to grow the business, 61 per cent said their organisation would not survive if it failed to embrace digital transformation.

Anthony Story, director of Silicon South – the not-for-profit agency dedicated to accelerating the digital economy in Dorset – said the report bore out what was being noticed locally.

Silicon South has applied for money in the final round of European Union funding.

“It’s all about cross-sector research and innovation and we’re finding that while there will continue to be a creative sector, increasingly the skills we have on the digital side will become more and more ubiquitous across all industries,” said Mr Story.

He said the digital industry would be less “siloed” and more involved in underpinning other sectors.

Machine learning and the internet of things – the term for machinery connected online –could help deal with the region’s productivity challenge.

He added: “The important thing is to not think of it as a replacement for staff – but if the machine can do the work staff do, how do you use innovation so staff can start doing other things as well?”

Vodafone’s Digital, Ready? Survey of 2,000 businesses, including 132 in the south west, found 51 per cent in the region were prioritising digital transformation to increase efficiency.

Forty-two per cent were seeking to improve the customer experience and 32 per cent to increase productivity. These goals came ahead of shortening the time to market (21 per cent), developing new products and services (19 per cent) and reaching new customers (25 per cent).

Athena Ainsworth, head of regional business for Vodafone UK, said: “The smallest digital steps can have a real impact on the growth and success of an organisation. Implementing the right new technology is helping businesses become smarter, more creative and more efficient.”

Among south west businesses that had embraced digital transformation, 18 per cent had been able to reach new customers or user segments, 32 had improved customer experience, 27 per sent had increased customer satisfaction and 15 per cent reported higher staff motivation.