Neil Harvey, CTO of Kirona, considers the implications of the Industrial Strategy white paper on the retail sector and asks; is there such a thing as a perfect balance, and what benefits can technology have on workforce productivity?
High productivity is surely one of the core goals of any business. Yet achieving it can be a tricky task – and retailers seem to struggle more than most.
The government's Industrial Strategy, published last year, highlighted how 'in particular, Britain's productivity has long lagged behind that of our competitors. At a time of astonishing technological advance, output per hour worked in the British economy has been weak since the financial crisis.'
It's a damning statement – and for retailers, the picture gets even worse. The retail sector, along with travel and tourism, is highlighted in the report as recording some of the lowest average productivity levels in the UK.
Yet the report is absolutely right to utter 'astonishing technological advance' in the same breath as 'productivity'. Technology is not only the driving force for a huge amount of innovation and process efficiency in businesses; it can also be the fuel for dramatic productivity gains by delivering enhanced workforce management.
It has been reported that technology has driven an overall increase of 84% in productivity per hour for office workers since the 1970s. In light of its increasing value to business, technology spending among retailers is set to rise by around 3% over the next three years according to the Retail Transformation Study– so it is clear that retailers understand its power to improve their bottom line. But how can technology best be put to work in your organisation, and how can you be sure it's truly focused on improving productivity?