Has the UK’s drive for digitalisation stalled before it even started? After placing 5th in the G7 and 15th in the G20¹ in terms of digital transformation and competitiveness – one might certainly think so. And yet no-code software solutions, in particular, present the ideal solution for improving the digital readiness of non-IT employees. When combined with innovative strategies, such the Lobster Group’s unique approach of integrating data and processes as one, there are still plenty of avenues companies can take to expedite their digitalisation journeys and drive growth.
Nobody ever said digitalisation would be easy or that it would be an immediate panacea for all IT ills. But the fact that the UK appears to have fallen as far behind as current studies suggest is still somewhat surprising. The figures do, however, speak for themselves. In September, the UK dropped two places from 14th to 16th position in the International Institute for Management Development’s World Digital Competitiveness Ranking². Earlier this year, a report published by the UK government itself shows that to date, only 15% of all businesses in the UK have adopted AI technology³. Not to forget the pandemic, which shone a light on the deficits of digital infrastructure in the public domain such as limited high-speed broadband in private households, and the technical delays businesses experienced in adapting to a new normal. Then there is, of course, the elephant in the room: the NHS, which earlier this year was reported to still be mostly paper based in a fifth of its trusts in England⁴. Simply put: the UK could be doing more to maximise the benefits of digitalisation.
LOST OPPORTUNITIES AND AN ALLEGED LACK OF URGENCY.
The Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) in Mannheim has been researching technical change and digitalisation for many years and has concluded that a company’s failure to adopt digital transformation is often due to a lack of digital affinity at executive level⁵. There is the mistaken belief that digital solutions only pay their way once a company reaches a certain size or that automation inherently leads to job losses. “If a company is performing well economically, this can also be associated with a lack of urgency in broaching digitalisation. Or often there is simply no impetus for digital transformation in the first place⁶,” confirms Holger Kett from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO). And even if upper management is fundamentally open to change, digital transformation can still fail due to a lack of appropriate adoption strategies or vague benefit assessments for digital projects. And the potential pitfalls don’t stop there: a lack of standards, complex public funding requirements and regionally inadequate network infrastructure are also having an impact. More concerning than all these issues, however, is the pronounced lack digital workplace skills – both in-house and on the general labour market.
HOW TO DO DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION THE RIGHT WAY.
Of course, software solutions alone cannot remove transformation hurdles. A qualitative study looking to identify the conditions for digital readiness published in the Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management , highlights how digitalisation in SMEs is an endeavour that should span all levels of the business, starting with top management’s commitment to defining the vision at strategic level, and involving middle managers and workers in the process. In other words: IT departments alone should not be saddled with taking care of digitalisation initiatives. In fact, successful digital projects involve as many employees as possible by deploying no-code technology – an approach that brings added benefits such as cross-departmental collaboration, interactive workflows, user-friendly interfaces and higher-level coordination. “Corporate management must define clear visions, missions and goals which overarch all digitalisation proposals,” says Malte Volkwein from the Department of Corporate Strategy and Development at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA).
So not only does digital progress call for more user-friendly solutions like Lobster_data. It also requires entrepreneurial courage, a willingness to change and innovation. Companies should not just digitalise for digitalisation’s sake, but rather look to unlock solutions to the various challenges facing the world today: the automation of global supply chains, the evolution of telemedicine, improvements in traffic control and in disaster management, the efficient use of energy and resources, to name but a few. Companies should perhaps perceive the current crises as opportunities for change as well, and not throw in the towel after introducing working from home and video conferencing solutions.