Digital divide threatening nearly half of UK businesses

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New research by tech giant IBM and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) points to a growing digital divide among UK businesses.

The research suggests that the economy is being polarised in its adoption of technology with 55% of firms implementing digital technologies while the other 45% is beginning to fall behind.

While the UK ranks first around the globe in its use of e-commerce and fifth for ‘availability of technology’ it only manages 14th place globally for commercial adoption of digital technology.

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Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, said: “Businesses globally are in the throes of an extraordinary digital revolution that is transforming productivity and creating a new generation of winning companies. But in the UK, too many firms are being left behind.  While pioneering firms are seizing digital opportunities, nearly half are struggling – a growing digital divide that is threatening UK competitiveness.

“It’s vital that businesses in all sectors – from manufacturing to retail – truly understand digital technology’s potential, from the boardroom to the shop or factory floor. Giving digital a human face by appointing a chief technology officer will help businesses build the long-term digital strategies that will be critical to their futures. And by harnessing the expertise of the generation at the heart of the digital revolution, firms will be better able to make the right investments for their digital future.”

Surveyed companies cite ‘a lack of appropriate skills’ inside their business (42%) as the main barrier to entry with ‘ unclear return on investment’ (32%) the second.

David Stokes, chief executive of IBM UK and Ireland, said: “Digital offers not only the opportunity for much needed productivity gains alongside a new canvas upon which organisations can innovate to drive new levels of growth.”

 

 

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