UK firms ‘lagging behind Europe in tech adoption’

Businesses in the UK are failing to keep up with tech updates when compared with other European countries, suggests CBI. Calls have been made for the UK government to encourage tech diffusion.

UK businesses and technology
The failure of companies to acquire readily available technologies and management practices is exacerbating the UK’s historic productivity problems, according to a report from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

UK businesses could benefit from tech boost

The ‘From Ostrich to Magpie’ report says the economy could receive a £100 billion boost if more firms embraced such technologies as mobile technology, cloud computing, e-purchasing and cyber security.Calling on the government to provide incentives to encourage technological diffusion in next week’s Budget, the report argues that by encouraging more businesses to behave like ‘magpies’ – picking the best tried and tested technologies available – rather than like ‘ostriches’, who are more stuck in their ways, the UK could reduce inequality between firms’ productivity and people’s pay.“Firms that fail to take up existing technologies and better management practices often struggle to embed new skills, export or allocate finance towards innovation,” said the report.
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Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, said, “While the eyes of the business world can often be on ‘the next big thing’ in cutting-edge technology, too many firms are missing out on what’s right under their nose. Failing to adopt the nuts and bolts technologies of today is leaving a yawning gap in productivity and pay between businesses.“In too many areas of diffusion we struggle against our international competitors, with more workers being employed by less productive firms here than in France and Germany, while by some markers we are almost a decade behind the Danes.“The prime minister rightly laid down the gauntlet at the CBI’s conference last Monday to get firms investing more, but the environment must be right. The government’s role is to create the right backdrop for firms to invest and it’s then up to businesses of all sizes to act boldly and take up the challenge.“The diffusion of technology and best practices has been a serial blind spot for the government in its attempts to solve the UK’s deep-seated productivity pains.“Ultimately, getting better at diffusion of key technologies and innovation is one of the missing links in solving the UK’s productivity puzzle and should be made a national priority.”

Small to medium businesses still need to embrace new technology

The report said that while the “high-fliers of UK business are more competitive than those of many other countries”, these companies employ only five per cent of the total workforce.According to the CBI analysis, the UK leads the G7 in three areas – integration with global value chains; collaborating externally to access information and operating in a mobile labour market. But the UK’s relative performance is weak in five areas, including exposure to strong competition, prioritising training and development, and securing finance for adoption of technologies.Juergen Maier, CEO of Siemens UK, commented, “There is an emerging consensus amongst businesses, policy makers and academics that a key focus of UK’s industrial strategy needs to be on the digital technologies that will power the economy over the next decade.“This report correctly points out that by prioritising tech diffusion we can boost productivity and support better wage growth.”For related news and features, visit our Technology section.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  

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