Gear for venturing into the budding 'metaverse' is expected at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show, where Facebook-parent Meta will have its latest Oculus virtual reality headset
The Metaverse is an important business consideration for the USA AFP News

IT decision-makers from the UK and the US have different priorities when compared to their peers from the rest of the world. Whilst improving security was a global concern, only the UK and the US highlighted the importance of AI and the metaverse.

The Survey conducted by Colt Technology Services, a global B2B telecoms company, surveyed IT managers from companies offerings a range of services to see what their priorities were. The companies were based across Europe, Asia and the US.

Overall, the most important factor was improving security. On average, 53 per cent listed it as a top priority, while each country listed it as one of their top three considerations. Japanese IT managers gave it the least concern at 42 per cent, while Sweden and Denmark combined listed it as the highest priority at 69 per cent.

The study revealed that other important factors for IT decision-makers included:

  • Network flexibility improvements (44 per cent);
  • Enabling new collaboration and communication applications (39 per cent);
  • Moving to the cloud (35 per cent);
  • Enabling a remote workforce (33 per cent);
  • Using software to exchange data between multiple business locations (26 per cent).

However, there were significant differences between the priorities of the US and that of the UK.

The UK placed the highest importance on AI and machine learning. About 40 per cent of respondents listed it in their top three, the only country in the world to do so. The global average was 33 per cent.

On the other hand, the US was the only country to highlight emerging technologies like the metaverse as a key priority. Nearly one in two (47 per cent) US IT decision-makers cited it in their top three.

Commenting on the findings, Colt CEO Keri Gilder stressed how emerging technologies are changing the way people live and work. She said: "Right now, AI, machine learning and the metaverse are fundamentally changing the way we engage, transact and interact," she said.

She added that the current era is one of the "most monumental periods of change in our history."

In the UK, the government has recently highlighted the importance of AI in leading growth. The new proposals for AI regulation highlighted the importance of AI technology to innovate, grow and create jobs. The technology already contributes £3.7 billion to the British economy.

Despite this, there are concerns that automating services may lead to large levels of unemployment in office jobs. Furthermore, Anu Madgavkar, who leads labour market research at the McKinsey Global Institute, said: "They are the job categories that will have the highest rate of automation adoption and the biggest displacement.

He added: "These workers will have to work with it or move into different skills."

In general, there are worries that companies are prioritising the quickest possible development of artificial intelligence without considering cybersecurity and the wider potential for harm. Such developments prompted global tech leaders, including Elon Musk, to call for a halt on "giant AI experiments."

When it came to the metaverse, whilst America lead the way, it was considered important across the world. Over a third of respondents listed it as a priority.

Many IT decision-makers saw the implementation of emerging technologies as a way to gain a competitive edge in the marketplace. There are a number of ways the technology can be leveraged to expand future growth. Remote collaboration and communication will be enhanced, offering new opportunities to build staff and customer relations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened interest in emerging digital technologies. In the US, restrictions remain tighter than in other parts of the world, with some areas still requiring proof of vaccination in order to access local amenities.