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Looking for some green in a sea of red

May 20, 2024 by Alistair Enser

As summer pokes its face above the horizon, and brighter days seem to be on the way, economically, the UK continues to experience stormy weather.

Take a look at some of the statistics below and ask yourself if attending our next technology and innovation day highlighted at the bottom might just help.

Lots of change, uncertainty and challenges lie ahead for UK plc, while the outlook for consumers is equally unclear. Global stock prices recorded the longest weekly losing streak since the financial crisis in 2008: almost 75% of S&P 500 stock declined in value last week.

Interest rates are creeping up as central banks struggle to deal with inflation which, in the UK, is now forecast to hit 10% later this year, and GDP is now recast to shrink by 0.6% in the last quarter. At Reliance, fortunately, we are busier than ever, however like everyone we keep a cautious eye on general economic UK PLC trends, showing a weakening in domestic demand as inflation bites.

Rising costs of raw materials, energy prices and Labour mean that many companies are being forced to pass on these increased costs to consumers, while logistics problems created by the war in Ukraine and continued lockdowns in China spell further trouble.

It’s a difficult situation, because raising interest rates to combat inflation will, at a certain point, invoke the very recession that the Bank of England wants to avoid. NatWest calculates that hiking rates to 2.5% in line with market expectations could knock a further 1.7% percentage points off GDP growth over the next two years, sending unemployment up towards 5.5%.

A delicate balance must therefore be struck, and the next few years will be very interesting. Given that inflation is being driven by both supply issues as well as demand initiated by leaving the constraints of lockdown, the dangers of overcompensating with stifling interest rates are significant.

Much of this is outside our control, of course. So beyond macro economics and fiscal policy, it’s clear that industry and households alike are going to have to eke out more from every pound in their pocket.

For this reason, it’s never been more important for businesses to look at ways of boosting productivity, unearthing additional value and automating key processes. Digitising and automating processes will free up valuable labour for other tasks that deliver greater customer and shareholder value. ‘Sweating’ assets such as security systems, with, for example, analytics to extract maximum business value – whether enabling efficient building usage resulting from flexible working arrangements, or helping to reduce energy costs as a result – is something that could provide immediate savings, even using legacy systems.

Indeed, it’s important that businesses continue to build on the great strides taken in lockdown when digitisation came to the fore. For the security industry, this means demonstrating the added value that connected electronic security systems can bring – not only in providing higher levels of security, but capturing data that makes organisations smarter, more efficient and better prepared.

As Lord Harris noted in his recent report, “Government should seek to move more quickly to facilitate use of new and approved technology.” I would argue that businesses must do likewise. Yes, some of these new technologies – such as facial recognition – present challenges. But as Lord Harris also says: “Open and accessible public debate is crucial, but it must be well-informed and current so as not to hold back appropriate and effective use of emerging technologies to enhance safety.”

To address these types of technologies and how they can deliver greater value, we are holding another Technology and Innovation Day at the beginning of July in the City of London, following a very successful and thought-provoking day at Mercedes Benz World in April.

These events are designed as much as a research forum to hear your challenges and strategies, as well as providing the opportunity to demonstrate the art of the possible, taking your feedback and building new and innovative solutions for the future.

At this next event, we will touch on the subject of Integration, analytics and automated workflows, and how security systems of the future can do so much more for your business. Contact info@reliancehightech.co.uk to register your interest in attending.