A digitally driven productivity push could more than double UK output growth in 2030, new research from Accenture and Frontier Economics finds.
Building five digital capabilities can unlock £33 billion of business potential, helping to boost the UK’s poor recent productivity performance.
By investing in tech and the human skills to match, companies can speed up innovation, get closer to customers, optimise the use of physical assets, and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of business operations and processes.
The UK can lay claim to international leadership in many areas: one of the world’s largest renewable energy markets, a tech start-up scene which is larger than the rest of Europe’s combined, and four of the world’s top ten universities.
But there’s one aspect where the UK has lagged over the past decade: productivity. An hour’s work in the UK generates less wealth than the G7 average. Over the past decade, productivity growth has barely shifted.
The skills shortage compounds the problem. There are more job vacancies than people available to fill them.
If companies are to grow, it follows that they must find ways for their current workforce to achieve more during their working day. This does not mean working people harder—many employees are already feeling fatigued and overwhelmed as we move from one crisis to another. Instead, businesses must ask how they can empower their people work smarter.
Digitisation is a rich potential source of efficiency which can—if backed by commensurate investment in training to unlock the productive potential of technology—save your people time. Time that can be spent doing more and higher value-added activities.
Five digital capabilities, billions in added benefits
Working with Frontier Economics, we found that building five key digital capabilities could add a staggering £33 billion to national output. That equates to an increase in economic growth of 1.5 percentage points in 2030.
These high-potential digital capabilities are:
Leading organisations mine process data and judiciously automate to ensure consistent performance.
Driving employee engagement and productivity through data-enabled, flexible operating models.
Reimagining what you make and how using the combined power of data and digital.
Improving the customer experience through technology platforms which combine human and AI-powered insights.
Physical asset optimisation
Increasing asset reliability, boosting profitability, and reducing risk through self-optimising operations
Invest and grow in a challenging environment
Leaders face a tough job convincing their boards and investors to support the investment they need. Quite apart from anything else, the darkening economic outlook will be a call to caution for many.
In fact, the reverse is true: boards should double-down on investing in tech and training for digitisation. Those that do could benefit more, and sooner, when things improve. Three themes should guide their thinking: ambition, investment, and delivery.
Ambition is all about appreciating the art of the possible. Leading organisations develop enterprise-wide digital transformation strategies, informed both by the value peers achieve with digital, and their approaches for doing so.
Clear investment distinguishes successful transformations from those that reach a dead end. No board should open its coffers unconditionally. We see successful organisations building ‘value roadmaps’ informed by real examples.
Finally, delivery. We see organisations tackling execution risk by looking not at what potential partners promise, but how they have achieved adoption and efficiency gains. We also see clients moving away from theoretical best of breed approaches; they increasingly recognise that when they fragment accountability, they are left carrying all the delivery risk.
Currently, just one in eight organisations meet their own expectations during digital transformation projects. Getting these three elements right is crucial to turning that proportion on its head.
UK PLC’s leaders must do things differently if they are to unlock growth in the current climate. The five capabilities we have identified will help leaders the UK’s productivity potential – benefiting employees, shareholders, and customers alike.