When it comes to technology, it seems that there are two kinds of people – and indeed organisations: one sort adopts it enthusiastically as soon as it can and the other adopts it grudgingly when it has to.
Given the extent to which the internet and mobile gadgets have become an integral part of daily life, you might assume that most businesses in the UK were very definitely amongst the former group, but you would be wrong.
According to research by the Confederation of British Industry, many businesses in the UK are failing to adopt even established technologies and thereby losing a competitive advantage.
In all fairness, it’s understandable that businesses, particularly smaller ones, can be hesitant about adopting new technologies. Businesses need to keep working and they often prefer to place their trust in technology with an established track record of performing robustly, rather than in the “next big thing”.
Additionally, technologies tend to be at their most expensive when they are first introduced and then come down in price as they mature and move into the mainstream. This is possibly most visible in the case of computer hardware and peripherals, which have plummeted in price over the course of recent decades.
There comes a point, however, when even the most cautious should acknowledge that a technology has matured sufficiently that it can be considered stable enough to use in a business environment, but the CBI indicates that, in many cases, UK businesses are just refusing to acknowledge this.
Businesses could make up to £100bn in productivity gains by adopting tried-and-tested technologies such as the cloud, customer-relationship-management software and e-purchasing, as well as integrating the use of mobile devices into their work processes.
None of these technologies are particularly new, (in IT terms at least), for example the principles of cloud computing have been around since the 1960s and, in more practical terms, Amazon Web Services was launched in 2002.
In fact, those who eschew adapting new technologies such as the cloud in their professional lives may well use it extensively in their personal lives since it is a key feature of both the iOS and Android mobile operating systems.
The CBI is encouraging the government to make funds available to businesses to invest in new technologies and also to establish a list of five key steps that businesses of all sizes can use to increase their productivity.
Given the tone of the CBI’s report and the technologies it emphasises, these steps will be along the lines of: making greater use of the cloud, adopting CRM systems (and using them effectively), switching to e-purchasing, improving cybersecurity (this could arguably be considered literally non-negotiable in the light of GDPR) and enhancing leadership and management skills (presumably with a view to businesses being able to identify the key technologies of the future).