Sage Advice UK

Are you onboard with the tech revolution?

Technology can make an important impact in the workplace

Technology is a vital part of most workplaces these days but are you onboard when it comes to embracing the latest innovations and gaining the maximum benefit from them, for your business and your employees?

It has been suggested that a significant number of organisations in the UK are in danger of being left behind by tech evolution.

Business inefficiency and worker dissatisfaction

Employers that fail to get onboard with the rapid development of technology run the risk of suffering consequences including dissatisfaction in the workforce and reduced productivity across the business.

According to a report released by TalkTalk Business, the majority of British workers have at some point felt frustrated because inadequate technology has diminished their ability to do their jobs.

Communication platforms such as WhatsApp and FaceTime are a familiar part of day-to-day life for many people but they have had a limited impact on the workplace.

Less than a fifth (17%) of the people surveyed regularly used instant messaging services for work, while only seven per cent made frequent use of videoconferencing technology.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of British employees said tech failures impacted their productivity in some way. The most common complaint is a slow internet connection, which was cited by 40% of people, followed by computers that aren’t powerful enough (36%) and old software and systems that keep crashing (29%).

Futurist and author Graeme Codrington said there is a “growing digital divide between the services and tools we all use as consumers and the antiquated-by-comparison technology we’re forced to use in the workplace”.

He added: “For businesses, now is the time to catch up and separate the passing fad from the technology that will deliver tangible impact for years to come. Not only is this vital to remain competitive but ultimately it is critical to survival.”

Where will workplace technology go from here?

There is much speculation about what the future could hold for technology for consumers and businesses. One prediction that seems fairly inarguable – especially since it is already happening – is that the concepts of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and robotics will all become increasingly significant in the workplace.

Recent research from talent solutions firm Hudson suggested that AI will “transform” the UK jobs market. There are various opinions on what sort of impact these new technologies will have.

Of the 1,000 office workers surveyed, more than six out of 10 (62%) said the development of AI will result in new job opportunities. That belief was particularly common among 16 to 34-year-olds (74%).

Nearly half (48%) of respondents predicted that AI will change the nature and function of existing roles, while 40% said it will reduce the number of available jobs.

Tried-and-tested technologies could still be around for some time, though, with 45% of British workers polled by TalkTalk Business predicting that email will continue to be their primary communication method for the next five years.

Whatever direction technological progress takes, you need to stay in tune with staff requirements and be ready to adapt to maximise efficiency and productivity.

How can you stay ahead of the tech curve?

Technology moves rapidly but it’s important that your business keeps up with the changes – if not, you may get overtaken by your competitors.

Here are three areas that we believe you need to implement into your business if you want your firm to be part of the tech revolution and succeed.

Cloud computing

Your business no longer needs to be tied to one location anymore. That’s right, with cloud computing, you can perform business tasks anywhere in the world.

Documents no longer need to be tied to your computer. Rather than them being saved on a local server, they are saved on a network of remote servers that are hosted on the internet.

Essentially, you can store, manage and process your data in the cloud.

You can deliver reports and financial information to your clients and employees through the cloud, while shared working is a lot easier.

And the days of sending bulk files via email can be a thing of the past.

By using cloud applications for your business, you can be much more productive and lot more efficient.

Data analytics

In a recent report called The State of Small Business, which we partnered with innovation foundation Nesta on, the UK’s “digital skills crisis” was referred to.

One area in particular that was highlighted was the lack of data analytics skills.

Having the ability to analyse and interpret the data on how well your business is doing can be vital to its success.

If you run an online shop, for example, Google Analytics will allow you to determine how well your products are selling, which are the top performers and which items you should be purchasing less of to sell to your customers.

If you can understand the data, you will be able to make business decisions that keep your firm moving in the right direction.

Communicating online

Maintaining relationships with your clients is vital if you want your business to succeed. If you run an accounting firm, it’s likely you keep in touch via phone calls, email and face-to-face meetings.

However, with a wealth of online tools at your fingertips, you can work more efficiently and save time on how you communicate. One such example is videoconferencing.

Videoconferencing is a great way to save on travelling. It’s useful to visit your clients now and again but for those fast catch ups, why not have your face-to-face meeting on a screen?

It’s a cost-effective way to communicate and there are numerous options to choose from including Skype, Google Hangouts and FaceTime.

So make sure you put the steps in place to keep your business tech-savvy and you’ll be able to close the digital skills gap at your firm.

Have you got any examples of how you are using technology to succeed with your business? Feel free to share your stories in the comments below.