Is technology the answer to better productivity?

With Britain’s economy and employment levels growing much faster than other countries, productivity remains a key topic for improvement for businesses far and wide.   In a recent statement George Osborne expressed the importance of cracking the UK’s productivity puzzle in order to secure future prosperity.  Research has shown that the global financial crisis has had a negative effect on UK productivity levels. While this crisis is gradually improving, we cannot assume that our productivity levels will too.

Statistics show that even though the French shut down business during the summer holidays, they still produce more than the UK who work all year round.  A 2013 Government study provides additional support for this statement, revealing that French workers are operating at a 27% higher productivity rate per hour than UK workers.  This percentage is even higher when compared against Germany and America too.

However the ongoing investment and advancement in technology offers a promising opportunity for the productivity of the UK workforce. For example, the UK’s manufacturing sector has benefited from such technologies, allowing for them to produce 50% more than in 2009. Technology can be hugely advantageous for businesses and start-ups,  helping to reduce costs, provide access to new markets and enhance customer service. Globalisation has meant that local businesses can now be accessed worldwide, thanks to technology. This digital marketplace opens many doors for businesses, enabling them to sell their products nationally and even internationally.

Although there are a growing amount of success stories of businesses breaking into international markets, this is still not mirrored throughout the UK. Larger businesses think investing in IT and new digital innovations will guarantee them better business, but this is not the case. Businesses need to be more efficient when it comes to optimising these technologies in order to reap the rewards. The mixture of creativity, the right channels and data usage can create future opportunities.

The importance of an effective online presence is also crucial for businesses. However it is shocking to see that less than 30% of UK business have an effective online presence. Cloud-based computer file storage and sharing abilities now allow teams to collaborate across locations, providing much more flexibility. However the majority of businesses and employees understand the importance of the digital marketplace but are merely lacking the skills to take full advantage of these technological advancements.

The Government’s Digital Transformation Plan is the strategy we need to transform productivity. The extra focus on the role of digital technologies will be beneficial for the UK economy and help to drive productivity. If executed effectively the potential rewards for the UK are massive.  Future investments in IT systems and training is essential for the strategy to succeed. A change in behaviour and workplace culture is also needed for productivity to improve. There is no better time than now to implement these changes and get all businesses to embrace the technology at their fingertips.
The Procurement Group

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