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The UK economy could grow £232billion by 2040 if sufficient investments in digital technology across a wide range of sectors are made, according to a new report.

Digital advances in the health and social care industry alone could add £33billion to UK gross domestic product while the retail and professional services sectors can potentially add £37billion between them, it said.

The analysis from Virgin Media Business and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) think tank stated that three crucial factors would be needed to work in tandem to achieve the desired economic outcomes.

Extra digital investment will help enhance productivity and output across the private and public sectors, and help the country’s post-Covid economy recover, said the report

It said investment in connectivity would have to be maintained, as would higher spending on collaboration technologies, and better enterprise resource planning systems.

This would help enhance productivity and output across the private and public sectors, and bolster the country’s economy, which fell by its highest amount in over three centuries last year, recover strongly from the coronavirus pandemic. 

It remarked that starting investment early could add £74billion to Britain’s economy by the middle of the decade and bring it closer to achieving its 2040 target.

Construction could produce another £3billion of value over the next two decades; the education sector will add £10billion, and government and blue-light services might create another £32billion. 

Peter Kelly, Managing Director of Virgin Media Business, said: ‘After the toughest of years, the UK has a £232bn opportunity ahead of it which we must now grasp with both hands. By continuing to invest in new digital ways of working, we can seize this moment and help UK businesses to bounce back better.

‘Moves to accelerate digital adoption are driving extraordinary outcomes across private and public sector organisations, helping them to revolutionise how they work, deliver for customers, and provide vital services for our communities.’

One of the major digital transformations accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic has been the rise of flexible working, with more operations being conducted virtually 

The report highlighted Swindon Borough Council’s performance in achieving 98.3 per cent efficiency gains after it adopted a process automation system when it endured a 2,000 per cent jump in free meal applications.

‘Through investing in our digital future we will support new growth, drive the UK economy forward and help the country to rebound stronger,’ Kelly continued.

Covid-19 has accelerated three major digital transformations affecting employers and workers, described the report, which will boost service quality, make firms more efficient and deliver gains for employees.

The first is flexible working, with higher numbers of people working remotely, and more operations being conducted virtually through tools like videoconferencing and virtualisation.

Digital services such as online doctors’ appointments took off when the pandemic erupted  

Digital services such as online grocery shopping shot up in popularity, while little-used utilities such as virtual courts and doctors’ appointments took off.

Finally, data sets for analytics and artificial intelligence are becoming more advanced to the advantage of building and city planners, analysing data around people traffic and pollution levels.

Taken together, the report approximates that employees who take full advantage of these trends could improve their productivity by 12 per cent.

‘From flexible and remote working to virtual contact centres and cloud adoption, the pandemic has pressed the fast-forward button on many technological trends that had already started or were being planned for,’ it remarks.

‘If investment in such technologies continues at the same pace, organisations and their sectors – and in turn, the whole UK economy – will be able to grow at an increased rate. This will deliver better outcomes for our industry workforces and benefit customers in the years and decades ahead.’