SMEs will be run by avatars in time for 2050 – study

A futurology report predicts that SMEs will be run by lookalike avatars of their business owners by 2050 – here's what they'll be able to do

UK small businesses will be run by avatars in time for 2050, according to research.

The futurology report by Virgin Money says that this will come about thanks to advances in technology in the coming decades.

UK futurologist, Dave Coplin, said that these virtual smart clones will be driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning. They’ll be able to handle the workload while business owners focus on building their business and achieving a better work-life balance. Avatars will be programmed by business leaders as their persona and they will be fully independent with the ability to operate and make decisions on the person’s behalf.

The futurologist also suggested that every small business will be a global business by default, staffed by an “army” of virtual specialists who are able to do business anywhere in the world, regardless of language and time zone.

SME owners will be “human computers” equipped with advanced cybernetic [meaning the science of communications and automatic control systems in machines and living things] implants, giving them instant access to “all the information in the world” and the ability to speak any language as the implant translates words in real-time. Meanwhile, cybernetic eyes will allow people to take photos and record footage while a brain-to-computer interface will give them the ability to download and upload information. Embedded microchips will be able to unlock doors and facilitate payments too.

A survey commissioned as part of the futurology report shows a great appetite from SMEs to invest in tech to boost their business. Over three-quarters (77 per cent) of UK SMEs are likely to say that tech will save them time and allow them to reinvest and plan for the future of the business. A huge 85 per cent say they’re likely to invest in the technology in the next five years to encourage growth. SME owners said they plan to use data science (39 per cent), AI (31 per cent) and virtual reality (26 per cent) to help build their business. However, 30 per cent of SMEs say they lack time and 39 per cent say it’s a lack of money as key reasons preventing them from using advanced technology.

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.

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