The UK growth figures released by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne this week might not have been as strong as we’d all have hoped, but there’s no reason for business leaders to be downhearted.
There are still plenty of opportunities for companies across the UK to grow. By using technology as an enabler, businesses can significantly reduce overheads, increase productivity and modernise existing IT systems.
To find out what UK companies believe they need to grow, we recently polled 5,000 businesses from across the country. The survey revealed that access to skilled workers remains a key concern, with a third of businesses struggling to find the right talent.
Across the UK, the study found that 29 per cent of businesses would like to see improvements made to the road network, while 30 per cent said they wanted better rail infrastructure in the region. Interestingly, just 27 per cent of companies said that access to high-speed connectivity was a key concern.
This could suggest that organisations have yet to embrace data-hungry online services or are already happy with the service that they’re receiving from their business telecoms provider.
Technology as an enabler
For many businesses, having an office has always been seen as a necessity, but with the advent of smartphones, laptops and tablets, ties to the office are being cut. Most workers can now work from home or on the go as effectively as they would at their desk. In fact a recent report by City & Guilds and the Institute of Leadership & Management found that three-quarters of managers believe staff are more productive when working remotely.
As well as productivity gains, businesses with a mobile workforce can make savings on office costs, as less space is needed to accommodate employees when many of them are working remotely. A recent poll of 1,000 workers that we commissioned revealed that 58 per cent of the UK’s workforce believes that companies will no longer require an office space to do business in ten years’ time.
Cloud on the horizon
A key technology that’s making the ‘office-less office’ look more likely is cloud computing. Whilst the technology itself might sound complicated, it’s quite a straightforward idea. In essence, cloud computing is a cost effective alternative to running a server in the office.
Businesses can take all of their files and applications and place them in a local data centre, where they will be managed on a pay as you go basis. Workers can then securely access everything they need through a web browser. This means staff can work from any location with an internet connection as they would in the office.
Whilst just 10 per cent of firms are currently deploying cloud technologies in the UK, it’s expected that most companies will move to the cloud in some form in the next five years. Those that don’t embrace technology as an enabler, it seems, could be left behind and miss out on many of the exciting opportunities that exist to grow their business in the modern world.