Technology was at the forefront of chancellor Philip Hammond's 2017 Budget, as he outlined a range of tech initiatives.
In his speech, Hammond said this Budget is about "much more than Brexit" as the world is "on the brink of a technological revolution". He stated that he wanted "Britain to be a forefront of the tech revolution… and we're going to invest".
Hammond continued that a new high-tech business is founded in the UK every hour, but he wants that to be every half hour.
He says he is investing more than £500m "in a range of initiatives from artificial intelligence to 5G and full-fibre broadband". Some of those investments could have profound effects on the IT channel.
£75m boost for artificial intelligence (AI)
Hammond was keen to jump on the AI buzz train. The £75m AI pot includes £20m towards supporting businesses developing AI technologies and another £9m will be used to fund an AI advisory body in the UK.
Darren Roos, president of SAP ERP Cloud, said the government's pledge for AI is a necessity not just for the tech sector but the UK economy as a collective.
"The UK's productivity woes need little introduction, but the arrival of AI and automation can go some way to addressing these. Let's be clear, this pledge from the government today is a step in the right direction but the UK is in a global race when it comes to the adoption of AI technology, and it cannot afford to lose.
"Today's pledge from government must act as a catalyst for cross-industry investment in this technology, with bold new ways of working created and AI front and centre," he said.
Roos said the real value of AI is in its power to help us understand information and make decisions in a fraction of the time it took before.
"The technology augments our abilities and raises the bar on what we can achieve, freeing employees from repetitive tasks and allowing them to focus on what will bring more value to them and the business.
"This investment will not only help UK workers excel and prosper in our increasingly digital world, but ensure the UK collectively is not left behind as disruptive innovation transforms the way in which we work and live," added Roos.
Lal Hussain, director of IT applications at Insight UK said emerging technologies such as AI are becoming increasingly fundamental to an organisations' business strategy - particularly when it comes to managing changing customer expectations.
"In an increasingly digitalised world, it's no secret that customers have evolved in their sophistication from five years ago. Because this means pleasing the customer has never been harder, organisations of all sizes are under immense pressure to deliver unique, valuable customer experiences and customer services," added Hussain.
VAT and digital businesses
After speculation he would bring it down, Hammond kept the VAT threshold for small business at £85,000 for the next two years.
He stated that he had listened to concerns about the costs of changing business rates.
However, Hammond noted that the £85,000 VAT registration threshold is by far the highest in the OECD, but that does keep most small businesses out of VAT, he claimed.
Hammond then turned to taxes for digital companies and said income tax will be applied to sales abroad. He said all online marketplaces will be jointly liable with sellers for VAT.
He said this would raise about £200m a year and added: "This does not solve the problem [of tax avoidance]… but it does send a signal of our determination."
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