The biggest challenges facing industries today

The impact of new technology has topped the list of challenges facing industries today, responses to our latest competition have revealed.

The results of the competition, which we held to mark the launch of our Online LLM Energy and Environmental Law, have shown that roughly 20% of entrants felt the greatest challenge facing their industry is new technology, and how they can best harness and respond to these developments within their sector.

The winning submission, chosen by Professor Robert Lee, was a UK entrant from the banking industry. He felt that cryptocurrency was the biggest challenge facing the sector as it “will allow people greater control of their own money in an asset that can be held privately without a bank and sent to anywhere in the world at a low cost”. Professor Lee agreed, stating that “the increased use of cryptocurrency could have global implications if it were to go mainstream”.

This is echoed in Price Waterhouse Cooper’s Top Financial Services Issues Report1, which states that blockchain, the technology that enables the existence of cryptocurrency, is not only an issue to watch but also a growth opportunity which “could bring greater efficiency and security to custody, payments, securities trading, and beyond”.

Technology was also cited in several other responses from sectors including agriculture and IT, with key challenges including low adoption rate of recommended technologies and concerns around data security – an issue that research has shown to have affected nearly 60% of businesses2.

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With Brexit estimated to have caused a 6% reduction in investment in the first two years following the referendum3 it’s not surprising to find that the uncertainty around the future of the UK is a challenge that was also raised in the answers we received.

“Companies are unsure of the long- and short-term impacts of [Brexit], thus external, costly investments are undoubtedly more prone to fall by the wayside” stated one respondent who works within the software industry.

Other key challenges put forward included international competition and rival products cited by aviation and FMCG respectively, lack of funding within education, environmental risk management and emissions in mining and the global economy; an issue raised in relation to the automotive industry which is undoubtedly a consideration for all sectors.

Do you agree with our respondents? Is your industry facing a challenge we’ve not mentioned? Let us know in the comments below!

The University of Birmingham offers a range of online degrees that equip our graduates with the skills needed to thrive in their chosen industry. If you are interested in returning to study via distance learning, please fill out our request for information form or contact a member of our Admissions Team.


1UNKNOWN (2018) Top financial services issues 2018. Price Waterhouse Cooper [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 15.10.2019]

2POWELL, M. (2019) 11 eye opening cyber security facts. CPO Magazine [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 17.10.2019]

3BLOOM, N. (2019) Harvard Business Review [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 16.10.2019]