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Debate sparks over UK's 'Productivity Agenda' & role of digitalisation
Fri, 8th Dec 2023

The Productivity Institute's initiative for boosting UK's productivity, "The Productivity Agenda,” has sparked a debate among industry professionals regarding the effective use of digitalisation in driving productivity growth. Digital Transformation Officer at digital adoption expert, WalkMe, Vivek Behl challenges the blueprint's call for business investment in digital skills, claiming that the emphasis should be on simplification over extensive training.

The Productivity Agenda emphasises digitalization and identifies a 'skills shortfall' as one of the key impediments to productivity progress. However, Mr Behl contends that the burden of complexity introduced by technology can act as a deterrent for businesses. He believes that the drive for digital skills needs to be reconsidered in favour of making workplace IT as user-friendly as possible. This, he argues, would eliminate the demand for intensive training on every aspect of the tech stack.

Vivek Behl warns, "Many businesses view digital investments as a path to better productivity, but these expectations are often not met. In fact, the continual addition of software and apps can actually compound employees' workload. Our research shows that large enterprises generally utilise an overwhelming 187 apps, wasting approximately £16m every year on either duplicated software or software that is not being fully utilised."

The need for employee training could be significantly reduced if companies focus on offering a more streamlined and consistent experience across their various software applications. Behl argues that automating common tasks can unburden employees, expedite processes and offer a more enjoyable user experience. This strategic shift in digital adoption could help businesses avoid productivity loss, thereby allowing the UK to regain its momentum on productivity growth.

Moving forward, during National Productivity Week and beyond, it seems the debate over the most effective way to use digitalisation in businesses will continue. While the call for increased digital skills attracts much support, the importance of simple, user-friendly IT cannot be underestimated, particularly in the context of the UK's productivity ambitions. The views of professionals like Behl provide valuable insights into a multifaceted issue that is central to the future success of UK businesses and the nation's economy as a whole.