With the recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) report showing that UK productivity is stagnating, posting only 0.5 per cent growth in the last quarter, it is evident that the UK still has a long way to go to catch up with the other G7 nations. When it comes to individual companies, while accepting that some external factors are outside of their control, there are many actions that business leaders can take to increase internal productivity.
Historically, technological advancements have been key to boosting productivity, such as the launch of Skype in 2003, as well as the launch of the iPhone and BlackBerry, which has increased the capabilities to communicate anywhere, anytime.
Creating a thorough digital strategy
We are seeing many businesses looking further to digital technology as a way to boost output efficiently, but this is not something that can just be rushed into. It is crucial that businesses take a step back, so they can establish a thorough digital strategy, with a particular focus on talent. Without a detailed strategy, companies risk only using technology to solve easily visible problems. For instance, how smoothly it is to place items in a basket on an e-commerce platform, without looking deeper at how fluently the transaction process takes place.
It is promising that 80 per cent of businesses see digital transformation as a priority moving forwards, but as only 35 per cent of companies have a ‘clearly defined’ strategy, much more needs to be done to ensure companies achieve the maximum benefit.
The core of the strategy needs to be focused around building digital teams, as people are key to wholesale digital transformation, due to their knowledge and experience in how technology can be applied. The knowledge and imagination to think beyond discrete technology projects, into a wide-reaching digital transformation strategy is vital. A ‘talent-first’ strategy can be crucial to creating the impactful change to significantly improve productivity, but shockingly 83 per cent of businesses say they have an insufficient number of employees to make any digital transformation happen.
Accessing the right talent
The UK is one of the most digitally-ready countries, ranking fifth out of 17 countries in Accenture’s Digital Density Index. That means that the potential for output growth, through a carefully crafted strategy, is exponential, as the UK consumer market is amongst the most digitised in the world.
Access to the right talent is now a major factor driving businesses success. By starting with building highly talented digital teams, who understand the agile culture that is imperative to innovation, businesses can achieve a noticeable boost in their productivity. Digital experts provide the insight and understanding, which can help to enhance an overall strategy.
Without the expertise in the workforce, companies will struggle to understand the possibilities of what can be accomplished with a digital strategy. Businesses know what they want to achieve from a digital project, but often they do not have the knowledge about how to get there. Therefore it is important that the first priority is to secure a talent supply chain with the right capabilities.
Over the next few years, developments in technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), automation, and robotics will continue to drive productivity standards upwards. Businesses will struggle to improve their output without creating a digital strategy which encompasses these capabilities. As IoT and other technologies are constantly changing, it is fundamental to hire and retain experienced talent, enabling your businesses to react to new important variations.
IoT is the latest in a series of technological advancements, each requiring expertise to be able to put it to the best business use within an organisation. Being able to bring in highly-skilled teams at relatively short notice, who embrace the digital culture, will give companies the advantage they need over their competitors. Digital technology is continuously improving, so the businesses that can adapt fastest by bringing in highly-skilled personnel, will achieve the benefits to a much greater extent.
The advantage of being the first to embrace new digital technology should not be underestimated, as customers will recognise the companies that are making the effort to provide innovative services to them. This comes with the additional benefit for business of having an impressive employer brand, and being known as digital innovators, to attract the best talent across the world.
James Parsons, Founder & CEO of Arrows Group Global
Image source: Shutterstock/Kirill Wright