The Impact of Technology on Productivity

The world of business is an interesting one. Regardless, of where in the world you are based, or what sector you operate in, the chances are that your firm is operating in an increasingly competitive environment.

Globalisation means that a firm based in the Philippines can easily provide the same services as one based in the US, Germany or the UK. As a result, most businesses are now competing directly with hundreds of other firms rather than just the dozen or so that are based in their neighbourhood.

This massive increase in competition has had an interesting affect on productivity. Across the world, businesses have had to find ways to work smarter than their direct competitors do to be able to continue to operate. This constant search for the best, fastest and cheapest way to get tasks done has seen productivity improve across the world by between 2 and 12%, since the late 80s.

That level of improvement has been possible mostly because of the emergence of new technology, in particular computers and software. In the past, only the huge multinationals had the funds to be able to use the power of computing, extensively.

In 1990, a computer with the processing power of an iPad 2 cost a stunning $1 million. Today, a firm can buy a gadget with a similar level of processing power for around $100.

The cost of information technology has plummeted putting good IT within easy reach of every type of business, regardless of where they are based. Being able to collect data, store it securely, access it and interrogate it is key to improving productivity. It enables a firm to look at what they are doing in detail, measure it, and improve what they do.

However, this is only possible because of the development of software that supports the collection, manipulation and interrogation of this data. Firms can only get an accurate picture of how they work if the information they are working with is accurate. When it comes to business data, it really is a case of ‘garbage in – garbage out’.

Those firms that use the information they gather from their accounts, productivity data, customer feedback and time and motion studies are the ones that understand their business best.

However, just knowing that you need to change gets you nowhere. Only those firms who take what they learn, come up with process improvements and actually implement them get ahead. This is increasingly being understood, which is why sales of HR software suites like the one featured here are on the rise. This is because a feature of these programmes is the ability to roll out best practice, and monitor adherence.

Considering the above, it makes sense for every company to review their processes periodically, and use any new technology that could potentially help them to become more productive. Studies show that firms that continuously make incremental improvements to the way they work and take advantage of the latest technological developments are the ones that grow the fastest. Often they are also the companies that are the most profitable.

If you would like to learn more about the impact that technology is having on global productivity levels, you can do so by reading this report.