A leading futurist is urging Kiwi companies to prepare for a tech-transformed future where machines have replaced many of today's jobs.

This might mean a robot tractor repairing a fence line, a robotic plumber fixing a toilet, artificial intelligence scanning and approving a contract, a holographic projector can let you visit any place in the world - or even a drone delivering a coffee made by an automatic barista.

The call comes as a new report, launched today to mark the start of Techweek NZ, has revealed nearly half of all surveyed small and medium businesses in New Zealand expect to see "significant" disruption from technology within the next decade.

Yet the findings of the MYOB Future of Business Report: The Age of Change showed two thirds were adopting a "wait-and-see approach" to change.

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The company's chief technical advisor Simon Raik-Allen said although businesses were expecting tech-driven change to come quickly, it was less clear how well prepared they'll be for it.

Read more: Back to the future: has NZ stopped looking ahead?

"With the advent of the information age, we've been living with the concept of constant change in business for more than two decades."

A robot displays an animated cartoon face as it waits for visitors to interact with it at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) in Beijing late last month. Photo / AP
A robot displays an animated cartoon face as it waits for visitors to interact with it at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) in Beijing late last month. Photo / AP

While businesses had largely accepted that and had planned for it, the next stage would bring another world of transformation.

"Technology isn't just about to disrupt certain industries. It is poised to change the way we perceive and interact with the world."

"Even though the details of the disruption each business will face is - as yet - unknown, the best predictor for long-term success is the ability of a business operator to recognise the potential for change and move quickly to respond."

According to the report, 44 per cent of local business operators believed the nature of their industry would be significantly changed by technology in the next 10 years, and just 14 per cent anticipated no change over the period.

Those business operators who believed their industries were most likely to be transformed by technology worked in finance and insurance (58 per cent), and the professional sector (50 per cent), were exporters (52 per cent) or part of the tourism industry (50 per cent).

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Even in the country's rural sector, only 17 per cent of business operators were not
expecting to see any change in the next decade.

Read more: 10 things we can expect by 2040

The key trends that business operators expected will alter their industry covered a broad range of technologies, from improvements in connectivity and cloud computing, to robotics and machine learning.

Raik-Allen said, in as short a time as five years, many businesses will face complete transformation.

"Take for example, the construction industry," he said.

"In New Zealand, just 35 per cent of construction and trades business owners believe the nature of their industry will be significantly changed by technology in the next 10 years.

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"Yet, with the latest advances in machine intelligence and 3D printing, it is an area that is ripe for transformation."

"We're already seeing modular construction begin to transform the way homes are designed and built.

"It is a short step from there to having buildings 3D printed right on site, or created and packaged at a single factory, and delivered by an autonomous vehicle before being assembled by robots."

Visitors look at a Chinese-made robot that is capable of surgical procedures during the World Robot Conference in Beijing last October. Photo / AP
Visitors look at a Chinese-made robot that is capable of surgical procedures during the World Robot Conference in Beijing last October. Photo / AP

But while operators could imagine the possibility of change, many were still struggling to keep up with technology.

"Few local businesses see themselves as early adopters or fast followers of newly introduced innovations - most tend to wait until they are widely adopted, putting themselves behind the curve.

"They also see many barriers to innovation - from costs and red tape to a shortage of skilled staff - which will restrict how prepared businesses are to manage the technological changes we'll see over the next decade."

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Although tech threatened to disrupt industries, it also held the key to adapt to change.

"If you find yourself working in an industry that no longer offers a role for someone with your skills and experience, you'll be able to download the neural training package from the brain store, plug it in and congratulations, you're now a lawyer."

An earlier report produced by Raik-Allen predicted that, by 2040, we could be talking to buildings, wearing clothing that gave us superhuman skills and accessing computer files with the blink of an eye.