Two-thirds of UK firms held back by ‘tech deficit’

Almost two thirds of companies (64 percent) in the UK are being restricted by a ‘tech deficit’ between what they need to achieve and what their technology is able to support, according to research commissioned by IT services company Colt.

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Almost two thirds of companies (64 percent) in the UK are being restricted by a ‘tech deficit’ between what they need to achieve and what their technology is able to support, according to research commissioned by IT services company Colt.

The survey found that just 34 percent of UK firms think their current infrastructure is ‘future ready and scalable’ to support demand over the next two years.

Inadequate internal technology inhibits firms from benefiting from the digital economy and reduces their competitive edge, according to Colt’s executive vice president of technology services Mark Leonard.

However UK firms are ahead of other European competitors in their sensitivity to customers’ expectations of a quality digital experience and their focus on mobile access and device flexibility for staff, the research found.

The survey found that 65 percent of UK firms are concerned about customers’ expectations of a quality digital experience compared to 56 percent of companies in Europe overall, and almost half of UK businesses (49 percent) see mobile access and device flexibility as a key factor forcing structural change, versus 34 percent in Europe as a whole.

Focus on value over upfront cost

Responding to the report, CTO of venture capital firm Blenheim Chalcot David Abensour said: “Too often IT departments are focused on keeping what they already have running, which is solving yesterday’s problems. Unloading infrastructure frees up commercials, results in less upfront cost and reduces complexity of operations.”

To help address this, Harry Small, Head of Baker & McKenzie’s global technology practice group, recommended that companies focus on building flexibility into contracts.

He said: “Don’t lock yourself into a set path. We did some research on this and the longer and more rigid a contract, the less likely it is to succeed from the customer’s perspective. You want results, but you don’t want to be too prescriptive about the way you get to them.”

Small claimed that public sector customers are particularly guilty of focusing on cost instead of value.

He said: “Government is one of the prime culprits of looking at cost not value. It’s time for government to take a much more long-term view and do more of a cost-benefit analysis.”

Treat IT as part of the business

Leonard said that IT departments need to embrace new technology models and consider wider business benefits if they want to keep themselves relevant.

He said: “IT people are often very resistant to change…leadership in IT faces a real cultural challenge. They need to be brave and take some risks. You can’t just carry on sitting there doing the same thing and expecting different results.”

Leonard added: “The IT departments need to take their blinkers off and stop being the turkeys that won’t vote for Christmas. They need to embrace new technology models in a holistic way and consider the benefit they will bring to the business.”

The panel also blamed a focus on upfront, short-term price rather than lifetime total cost of ownership and value to the business as a whole for poor internal technology.  

Leonard said: “IT often sits too far away from that [the marketing department] and focuses on the nuts and bolts. And the business often ignores IT. Where budgets are held is increasingly meaningless. Marketing departments are often also IT departments now.”

Abensour simply advised companies: “Treat IT as part of the business.”

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