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  • Marijan Hassan - Tech Journalist

9 out of 10 UK business leaders suffer from tech anxiety according to new research

A new study by BT has revealed a widespread struggle with "tech anxiety" among UK business leaders. Nearly nine in ten (86%) of directors and executives reported experiencing tech-related stress severe enough to disrupt their sleep. BT has called the phenomenon “bytemares”.

The rapid pace of technological change is cited as a key driver of this anxiety, with concerns focused on areas like artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, digital transformation, and digital skills shortage.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

63% of respondents reported feeling stressed or anxious about it in the past year. Of these, 34% were worried about the privacy and security implications of AI while 29% were concerned about AI quality and reliability. One in five business executives views AI as an existential threat to their business.

AI adoption has been continuously going up, and this has opened up businesses to new security risks like prompt injections and data poisoning attacks. The UK National Cyber Security Centre is already putting effort to stay ahead of the threat, and in November 2023, it released guidelines on the security of AI systems together with US CISA and other agencies.


According to BT, ​​32% of business leaders cited cybersecurity as a source of tech anxiety. It’s understandable considering an estimated 22% of U.K. businesses experienced a cyber attack in 2023 and the number is anticipated to rise as cybercriminals start leaning towards generative AI.

Digital transformation

While digital transformation is recognized as crucial for business survival by nearly two-thirds (62%) of respondents, the pressure to keep pace is taking a toll on mental well-being.

This isn't just a personal issue - BT estimates that this "tech paralysis" could hinder UK economic growth by a staggering £11.79 billion by 2030. Businesses large and small are reportedly delaying crucial investments in technology due to anxiety around implementation.

Digital skills

24% of respondents cited the ongoing digital skills shortage as another source of stress. Finding qualified personnel is a major hurdle for over two-thirds of U.K. businesses, according to Amazon Web Services (2023).

The study, conducted by Censuswide and commissioned by BT during Mental Health Awareness Week, surveyed 2,000 UK business decision-makers.

In response to the findings, BT has partnered with entrepreneur Sarah Willingham and mindfulness expert Izzy Judd to provide UK businesses with mental health resources. This initiative aims to equip leaders with the tools to manage anxieties and approach tech transformation with a clearer mind.


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