Solving the problem of declining UK productivity

  • Solutions
  • Crisis Management
  • Jordi Ferrer
  • 2020
14 February 2020

Solving the problem of declining UK productivity

How would you sum up the last decade in a statistic?

Well, according to the Royal Statistical Society (RSS), a professional body for more than 9,000 statisticians and analysts, the answer is 0.3%.

On the face of it, the importance of the statistic might be hard to fathom, but 0.3% is the estimated average annual increase in UK productivity in the decade or so since the financial crisis. As the Guardian newspaper reported, this means the 2010s have been the worst decade for productivity growth in the UK since the early 1800s.

The key to shared prosperity

Am I surprised by this announcement? Not really.

Take the seemingly trivial example of last December’s Christmas shopping experience. I was passed from one contact centre agent to another whenever I hit an issue, and also faced the frustration of having my debit card blocked for a suspected fraudulent transaction while out on the high street.

 It was hard to avoid the conclusion that there has to be a better, more efficient, way for companies to deliver customer service. Some retailers and financial services providers are getting it right, but unfortunately, they are in the minority.

The problem is that in some aspects of our lives the services we receive are being driven by archaic, complex and time-consuming processes.

UK business practices can be hindered by baggage and legacy and that’s having a profound impact — not just in terms of frustrated customers being held in contact centre queues, but on the agility and productivity of UK businesses.

As the RSS’s executive director, Hetan Shah, says in the company’s official announcement: “Most people won’t have paid attention to a dull sounding number on productivity. But we think it is probably the most important UK statistic of the last decade as productivity is the single biggest key to our shared prosperity.”

We need to increase that 0.3% stat…but how?

Removing friction and complexity

It’s time to clean house and take control of how our businesses operate.

At ServiceNow, we’re already seeing the transformational impact that some UK businesses are achieving by simplifying and automating processes. It’s not about making cost savings, but driving efficiency, productivity and accelerating growth.

Together with our partners, we are helping to make UK businesses more agile, more flexible and more competitive. But I know we have only just got started.

Through digital workflows, private and public sector organisations have the opportunity to deliver amazing experiences — for citizens and workers across the UK. Whether that’s AI-driven customer service with a retailer, or council services delivered on a mobile, or empowering police on the streets to manage workflows while on the move.

And if we take a vast organisation like the NHS, with a huge amount of repetitive and time-consuming processes and tasks, the gains can be considerable.

If a single sign-on system at one hospital can save 130 staffing hours a day, imagine what we could achieve if connected, integrated digital workflows were integrated into every aspect of the NHS.

So, let’s be smarter about how we do business. By weaving digital workflows into the very fabric of our lives, we can help remove friction and hide complexity. Making our world intuitive and effortless is the key to improving agility and performance — and UK productivity. 


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