12th May 2016
Efficiency can be defined as “the ratio of the useful work performed by a machine or in a process to the total energy expended”. To be efficient, the total amount of effort that it takes to do a job should be far less, or at least, no greater than the results yielded. But what does this mean for the average business?
Since the 1970s, the rapid adoption of information and communications technology has caused huge disruption to the business world. Over the last decade, digital technology in particular has fundamentally changed the way that businesses operate. Every market is being transformed and causing a shift in efficiency in the workplace. The machinery, or technology, that we use on a daily basis means we often have to put less effort into a job to yield the same, or more often, better results.
How is technology helping us becoming more efficient?
Since the 1970s, the development of technology has led to an increase of 84% in productivity per hour for office workers. This has been due to the widespread adoption of mobile phones, email and business software. In today’s workplace, advancements such as speedy internet, cloud based technology and smart phones make working anywhere, at anytime possible. Additionally, the sheer volume of information that is easily accessible via the internet makes research an easier task – ultimately having a positive impact on the quality of work that many of us produce in a much shorter timeframe.
Findings have shown how the increasing investment in technology by UK businesses has allowed us to work smarter. As a result we are more productive and this trend is expected to continue. According to a survey carried out by O2, 42% of people said that updating their technology software or hardware was one of their top priorities this year. Another 71% said that their top priority was to become more efficient by introducing new technologies.
Technology continues to evolve so quickly that it is impossible to know where the world will be in five years’ time. Staggeringly, in 2014 the number of mobile devices (7.2 billion) surpassed the number of humans and is multiplying five times faster than we are, a statistic that was unimaginable at the turn of the millennium.
It is therefore more important than ever for businesses to embrace emerging and disruptive technologies – ignoring them now will leave businesses falling behind.
So why are many businesses still so inefficient?
Many traditional businesses, run by old fashioned managers with a more conservative culture, still exist and they will need to change their mentality if they want to thrive, or even survive, in the digital era. Historically such businesses have played it safe, sticking to what they know and what works however this is no longer possible with the ever changing business landscape. Almost every organisation is affected by the disruption of the widespread adoption of digital technologies. Technology offers numerous opportunities to maximise efficiency and productivity within business operations therefore saving time and promoting business growth.
Although technology is about automating processes, it is equally about opening avenues to new ways of doing business. A great example is the phenomenal rise and global success of Uber, a taxi company valued at $62.5 billion this year and is still experiencing rapid growth. Their business model is driven by digital technology, reducing inefficiencies and ultimately reducing costs for the customer. Subsequently, the demand for traditional taxi firms has fallen.
Integrating new technologies into business is now essential but, in order to successfully transform it, the right organisational culture is a prominent factor. Changing culture is time consuming and requires education of an entire workforce. However, organisations which do not evolve and adapt in this way risk losing ground to competitors.
Technology has revolutionised the way companies conduct business and it will only continue to do so therefore it is essential to embrace such change in order to achieve or maintain success within the business world.
Original content written by SmartPA Partner, Juliet Cooper.