To what extent is technology the panacea for productivity?

According to a recent study, academics believe new technology holds the key to greater productivity.

Academics at Lancaster University have suggested that utilising the latest innovations in the workplace could help solve a long-standing problem – the fact that Britain’s productivity is lagging behind fellow members of the G7.

Part of me feels that this comes straight from the department of stating the stunningly obvious but we can probably all point to examples where the introduction of technology has achieved quite the opposite.

To be fair the study picks this up and Lesley Giles, director at the university’s Work Foundation, said: “We simply have to embrace the potential of digital technology, combined with the right training, culture and leadership to ensure it’s utilised to its full potential.”

This, actually points towards a much more interesting point; what is the cost/benefit differential between a good implementation of a new technology – where appropriate training is given and suitable thought is given to how it will mesh with the business’ current processes and structures – and those where it is “dropped from on high” as a global shot in the arm to solve all the business’ ills.

There is a strong argument that a poorly implemented piece of technology, be that a piece of software or machinery, will actually reduce productivity rather than improve the position.

Whilst, at least to my mind, it is important that businesses make the most of the tools that are available to them to improve their businesses this does not mean that every tool that is available is right for any one business and talking to people who have trodden the same path before (either in their own businesses or helping others) is invaluable.

Having many years ago been given the poison chalice of implementing our document management system, I have been called upon many times to help other businesses embarking on the same journey.  Saving them from making some of the mistakes we made and helping them think about what the impact on their business will be has helpful for them (I hope) and cathartic for me.  A true win-win!

In short technology offers huge potential but is not the solution in and of itself.  As with anything it is what you do with it that counts!

Posted in News.