Top tech stats: SME equity finance, blockchain’s potential in real estate & more


Welcome to your round up of some of the past week’s most interesting surveys, statistics and reports relevant to those involved in the UK tech industry.

This week, we have statistics relating to the pressure on IT professionals, blockchain’s potential in the real estate sector, personal data security, digital disruption, post-Brexit optimism and the number of SMEs that would consider equity finance.

IT stress

Research conducted by Unified Security Management and AlienVault has revealed 29% of IT professionals will be too busy to take time off over the Christmas period.

Of those that can take time off, 50% indicated they will spend their time off worrying about their work.

The survey of 464 IT professionals also discovered 53% think their colleagues are overworked, and 41% reported having unfilled vacancies within their team for over a month within the last year.

Javvad Malik, security advocate at AlienVault, commented: “The festive season has traditionally been a time when the vast majority of people take time off to spend with their families. But a combination of workplace pressures, the IT skills shortage, and our growing dependence on mobile computing is all forcing a cultural change for those working in IT.”

Investing in blockchain

Some 70% of property investors believe regulators are unprepared for the introduction of blockchain in the real estate sector. That’s according to a study by BrickVest.

Property investors identified the integration of blockchain with existing regulatory and legal frameworks as the biggest challenge preventing widespread adoption within the sector.

The second largest obstacle was found to be the reluctance by banks, insurance companies and private equity firms to invest in blockchain technology. This was followed by a lack of knowledge and education among participants.

Just 44% of property investors claimed to be familiar with blockchain, and only 2% said they are ‘very familiar’.

Despite this, 56% of real estate investors believe that blockchain technology will eventually be adopted by the sector.

Personal data security

Intelligent Environments’ recent survey has found 34% of people feel they have too many passwords to remember, resulting in them writing them down.

Additionally, 21% of respondents have shared their PINs with colleagues, friends or family members to withdraw money on their behalf, and 14% haven’t changed how often they update their PINs, despite being victims of fraud.

However, some 60% of Brits claim that recent hacks have made them more aware of personal data security, and 23% said they intend to become more vigilant about their personal data in the new year.

Clayton Locke, CTO at Intelligent Environments, commented: “Consumers are clearly aware of the cyber threat. It’s up to financial services providers to implement robust security systems that go beyond passwords, to offer additional methods of authentication so consumers can enjoy a seamless, yet secure experience.

“Time and again, passwords and PINs have proven to be weak lines of defence, but by adding additional methods of authentication such as biometrics, banks will fulfil their responsibility to keep their customers’ data safe,” he added.

Digital disruption

A survey of 242 UK learning and development (L&D) professionals working in companies with turnovers of over £100m revealed 86% of businesses have assessed the risk of not taking action towards digital disruption.

Additionally, 88% claimed to have taken steps to address digital transformation, and the majority have put a C-suite executive in charge of driving digital change.

Chief information officers (CIOs) are in charge of digital change in 43% of businesses, and 24% of firms have assigned this responsibility to their chief digital officer (CDO). 22% of businesses have their chief executive officer (CEO) leading digital transformation.

However, 55% of L&D professionals believe C-suite executives are not fully committed to driving digital change, and 21% also feel powerless to influence change in their organisation.

Post-Brexit optimism

A report by Dice which surveyed 1,000 tech professionals 6 months after the Brexit result revealed 53% are confident Brexit will not negatively impact their career.

In fact, a surprising 19% of respondents said they expect Brexit to have a positive impact on the UK tech sector by the end of 2017.

Similarly, 31% of tech professionals claimed their confidence in the UK’s future job market remains unchanged, and only 17% are pessimistic about the tech sector’s future.

Despite positive responses, the report also highlighted 45% of tech professionals are more open to seeking new job opportunities outside the UK as a result of Brexit. Dublin (44%), Berlin (40%) and Amsterdam (35%) were found to be the most popular cities for tech professionals open to making a move into Europe.

Jamie Bowler, marketing director at Dice, commented: “Our findings seem to suggest that whilst there is still a lot of uncertainty, the mood is far from doom and gloom amongst UK tech professionals and recruiters. Brexit will undoubtedly bring its challenges to the sector moving forward, but it is clear there is a collective attitude that the industry is strong enough to weather any storms that may lie ahead.

“’It is great to see UK tech professionals demonstrating such positive attitudes during these uncertain times. The UK currently leads Europe in technological and digital innovation and it is these tech professionals that will determine the sector’s future success,” he concluded.

SME equity finance

According to the “Albion Growth Report”, commissioned from YouGov by Albion Ventures, 44% of SME owners would consider taking equity finance, up 34% from a year ago.

In 2013, just 12% of SMEs were willing to swap equity for support. But now, 26% of business owners say they would consider an exchange of equity for hands-on support from venture capitalists, private equity or business angels.

Regionally, SME owners in London are the most likely to consider equity investment – 37% stated they are open to it. This is followed by the East of England (35%) and Scotland (29%).

Millennial entrepreneurs are the most enthusiastic towards equity finance, with 40% considering the approach compared to 29% of CEOs over 40 years old.

The report also discovered that SMEs no longer feel that access to finance is the largest barrier to growth, rather ranking it as 7th on their list of concerns in 2016. This is down from 6th in 2015 and 4th in 2014.

Patrick Reeve, managing partner at Albion Ventures: “It’s a vote of confidence in the post-Brexit economy that demand for equity finance continues to grow among entrepreneurs, underlining a psychological shift from the traditional reliance on bank debt as the source of growth finance.

“What is particularly welcome is the emergence of the ‘Dragon’s Den generation’ – those under 35 who embrace an equity culture. The greater willingness of younger CEOs to use equity rather than banks to secure the funds they need suggests we’re shifting towards a more entrepreneurial model as seen in the US.”