“The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow,” physicist William Pollard famously proclaimed.
In the world of commerce, we see businesses regularly falling foul of this assertion. The annals of its winners and losers prove testimony to how complacency can sound the death knell for the future of many a company.
The UK’s best performing firms are highly innovative according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). A somewhat unsurprising revelation perhaps, but this best practice approach should be followed by a greater number of companies, the CBI has stressed, “improving productivity through the adoption of technologies and ideas that are proven”.
Indeed, according to the latest study from TomTom Telematics, more than a quarter of UK businesses (26 per cent) admit to being slow to adopt technological innovations. This, despite 82 per cent recognising the importance of using the most up-to-date technologies.
Furthermore, the study revealed that more than half (57 per cent) of UK businesses have invested in technology over the past five years that has been underused.
The digital route to profitability
McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) has found that companies that are digital leaders in their sectors enjoy more rapid revenue growth and higher productivity. Slow or late tech adopters consequently risk falling behind the curve and seriously damaging their future competitiveness.
Effective long term digital strategies and the integration of technologies into core business activities can hold the key to simplified processes, helping improve operational efficiency, productivity and sustained levels of growth. What’s more, profits and margins can increase three times faster than for those that are less digitised, and workers within these companies can enjoy double the wage growth.
All companies should therefore take steps to assess the extent to which technology and digitised processes might transform their business operations. By more readily adopting technologies and management best practices, the CBI has pointed out that the country’s least productive firms could raise their productivity to the level of their German equivalents – generating an extra £100bn to the UK economy.
The biggest barrier to tech adoption was found to be cost by the TomTom Telematics study, cited by 36 per cent of those businesses surveyed. But this is where companies should think longer term – looking beyond the short-term pain of any initial outlay and having plans in place to make the most of technology data.
An investment in business technology that is implemented and used effectively can result in a significant return on investment (ROI). Taking telematics as an example, an initial investment by vehicle fleet operators can be offset by the benefits the technology helps gain through more efficient working processes, savings on fuel and maintenance, or improvements to productivity.
Data-driven decision making
With business intelligence generated through good data having significant potential to make operational improvements, it is vitally important that someone within the organisation is given ownership of the data and sufficient resource is allocated to processing and analysis. By doing so, the data can be used to drive meaningful improvements and, moreover, demonstrate ROI. In some cases, clients of ours that have adopted telematics systems have demonstrated returns in as little as three months.
Despite this, more than one in 10 (11 per cent) companies have said that they never, or rarely, use data from business technology to inform decision-making. A further 28 per cent say they only do so occasionally.
Business intelligence enables companies to act on meaningful insights and analytics, rather than instinct and intuition. If it is to transform operations and deliver far-reaching benefits however, it must be effectively harnessed in accessible formats, such as customised dashboards or tailored reports. Where technology automates this process, informed, data-driven, decisions can more easily be taken to enable companies to gain a competitive edge, helping them become more responsive and better meet the needs of customers.
A connected future
It is also important to consider the integration possibilities of any new technology systems. For example, does a telematics system talk to customer relationship management (CRM) tools or enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms?
More than half of UK businesses (56 per cent) have invested in technology over the past five years that has been underused – and more than a third (37 per cent) have attributed this to the technology proving incompatible with existing systems and processes.
By ensuring the seamless flow of data between different elements of software and hardware, benefits can be realised across different functions of the business, helping to remove traditional silos that have prevented effective technology implementation.
Textile, hygiene and safety solutions specialist Berendsen recently integrated on-board vehicle cameras with TomTom Telematics fleet management solution WEBFLEET, for example. By combining driver performance data and camera video footage, to support in the debriefing of employees and the provision of targeted driver training, carbon emissions have been cut by more than 2,000 tonnes a year.
Steel stockholder, Industrial Metal Services (IMS), is meanwhile set to save more than £250,000 a year due to improved vehicle routing and driving behaviour across its 55-strong truck fleet. This is the result of improved routing and a reduction in mileage – achieved with the help of an integration between WEBFLEET and route planning software – as well as a significant improvement in mpg through a driver improvement programme underpinned by telematics.
Given that the ‘difficulty of introducing news systems’ was the second most frequently cited barrier to adoption in our study – and that ‘a lack of guidance and support from suppliers’ was found to be the number one reason for technology being underused – choosing the right supplier is clearly also very important.
Look before you leap
This puts an onus on businesses to do their homework to ensure they choose a supplier that provides an appropriate level of customer care, after-sales support and ongoing consultancy. The right technology partner should be able to help minimise business disruption and ensure easy and timely implementation to help swiftly unleash their technology’s true potential.
Due diligence on preferred suppliers should extend to finding out what training is provided, the extent of its support services network, how these can be accessed to underpin on-going usage and whether managed services are available where resources are stretched. Furthermore, their track record for R&D investment and innovation should be checked to ensure they are well place to meet not only current but future business needs.
With technological change occurring at a rapid pace, businesses can find themselves faced with a wealth of opportunities that promise a golden ticket to attaining digital advantage. Careful, strategic, planning is consequently called for to avoid costly mistakes and to help ensure a smooth journey to digital transformation.
Capgemini Consulting and MIT Sloan School of Management have defined these successful members of the ‘digirati’ as organisations that combine a transformative vision, careful governance and engagement, with sufficient investment in new opportunities6. These companies will have the infrastructure and tools to help them remain highly competitive, even as their business landscape around them shifts and changes.
The final word goes to William Pollard, who astutely encapsulated the overriding message: “Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”
Beverley Wise, Sales Director UK & Ireland; TomTom Telematics
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