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The UK economy faced with a 'digital divide'

Just slightly above half (55 per cent) of 'pioneer' firms in the UK are adopting new technologies, while the rest are falling behind, according to new research.

The CBI and IBM report says that the UK is ranked 14th when it comes to adopting new technologies at the company level, lagging behind its peers in many other countries. Connectivity and security are the two biggest obstacles to the introduction of new technologies in the workplace, but the lack of skilled workers (42 per cent) and unclear ROI (return on investment – 33 per cent) are also mentioned.

Businesses are aware (94 per cent) of the benefits new digital technologies can bring to the office, including new jobs and business growth. Seventy-three per cent know new technologies could improve customer satisfaction and experience, as well.

To get there, CBI recommends businesses to hire a Chief Digital Officer, or Chief Technology Officer, as well as increase the age and skill diversity of boards and board advisers.

“Businesses globally are in the throes of an extraordinary digital revolution that is transforming productivity and creating a new generation of winning companies,” says Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General.

“But in the UK, too many firms are being left behind. While pioneering firms are seizing digital opportunities, nearly half are struggling – a growing digital divide that is threatening UK competitiveness.”

“It’s vital that businesses in all sectors – from manufacturing to retail – truly understand digital technology’s potential, from the boardroom to the shop or factory floor. Giving digital a human face by appointing a Chief Technology Officer will help businesses build the long-term digital strategies that will be critical to their futures. And by harnessing the expertise of the generation at the heart of the digital revolution, firms will be better able to make the right investments for their digital future.”

Antony Walker, deputy CEO of techUK commented: “These stark findings highlight that to be a world leading digital economy we not only need a thriving tech industry, but also widespread adoption of digital technologies across all sectors.

"If we can increase adoption rates of the 45 per cent of businesses that are the start of their digital journey, we can drive their productivity and growth across the whole of the UK.”

Image source: Shutterstock/Nomad_Soul