New research from diversified US giant Dell Technologies suggests that UK companies are underinvesting in artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) in order to focus on pandemic-driven cybersecurity and ‘business as usual’ projects.

Dell’s research, conducted by Opinium from interviews with 2,000 IT professionals, reveals that cybersecurity to ensure business continuity is the top investment priority for UK decision-makers.

Eighty-three percent of respondents said their organisation is accelerating the adoption of new cybersecurity systems, with half of IT professionals believing data loss from cybercrime is the biggest risk to their business.

Over one-third (37 percent) are concerned about their business ceasing to function in a cyberattack, with almost as many worrying about the financial impact.

The threats are not imaginary: the pandemic has seen a global rise in cybercrime, including ransomware, phishing, and hacking attacks that exploit weaknesses in organisations’ more diffuse perimeters.

Cloud infrastructure and 5G are the second and third UK investment priorities, with 97 percent of respondents saying the modernising of IT is important for future competitiveness.

Eighty-five percent say they are planning to increase the use of cloud infrastructures, with one-third saying this will happen over the next year.

However, many organisations are still playing catch-up in the pandemic, with 16 percent investing the most in collaboration tools, followed by remote connectivity and remote workforce devices, both on 14 percent.

With many organisations still trying to adapt to homeworking nearly two-years on from the Covid outbreak, the risk is that they are not investing enough in the future. Despite the UK’s stated aim to be an ‘AI superpower’ in recent government announcements, AI trails behind in fourth as an investment priority.

Edge technologies – critical for local processing on the Internet of Things – are sixth, one place behind the increasingly outmoded strategy of IT outsourcing.

Dayne Turbitt, Dell’s senior VP and General Manager in the UK, warned that the nation should not take its eye off the ball of emerging technologies that could offer real business advantage.

“British businesses are to be competitive in the global digital economy, investment in edge computing and artificial intelligence needs to start now, he said. “We believe that edge computing will have a transformative impact, from retail and manufacturing to smart cities and hospitals.”

The biennial Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index recently found that over half of organisations (53 percent) have “not come close to realising their digital transformation goals”.

Related findings from the Dell survey include that 85 percent of IT leaders say the sustainability of technology products and services now influences their buying decisions – good news as the COP-26 conference ends.