A quarter of industrial businesses are unprepared for technological change in their sector

One quarter of industrial businesses in the UK admit that they are behind the curve with limited or no technology strategy at all, according to a new Disruptive Technology Report by CIL, the leading management consultancy. As a result, these businesses are at risk of losing competitiveness over the medium term.

This lack of preparedness comes despite the majority of respondents (86%) recognising that technology will impact their business in some way over the next five years. Indeed, 37% predict that technology will result in fundamental changes to their industry.

The research also highlighted the areas technology will have the greatest impact. Most respondents (59%) acknowledged that technological development will drive business performance, either through ensuring better quality delivery of optimizing internal processes. Automated workflows are a key enabler of efficiency, while leveraging big data analytics supports improved decision-making at all levels of any organization.

Just under half (46%) of those surveyed identified technology as a way to drive competitive advantage by enabling product and service differentiation. This can be achieved by doing current activities better or by operating in new ways. As technology develops more rapidly, early adopters will see their ability to differentiate become more apparent.

Just one third (33%) saw the opportunity to leverage technology to developing new products or services. This is not surprising as it is the most disruptive approach but ignoring this area could pose a risk by not embracing innovative thinking. The research highlighted other areas of change such as the impact of work force, both in terms of the number of workers needed but also the skills they will require.

Commenting on the findings, Jon Whiteman, partner at CIL, said: Technology development will affect most industrial businesses over the coming years. Many are unprepared or underestimate the potential impact. It is important to have a well-crafted technology strategy but also to commit significant resources to it based on a clear understanding of which areas create most value.”

When developing a technology strategy, CIL recommends the following:

· Map out how customers and competitors could change over the medium term and plan your response to potential disruption.

· Look beyond the buzzwords and identify which tangible changes to operations are feasible or could be soon.

· Focus on technology which reinforces your current competitive advantage. Deprioritise marginal highly speculate ideas to focus on those which create the most value.

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