From innovation to impact: Bridging the UK’s productivity gap

The UK’s tech sector has consistently been at the forefront of innovation. The UK became the third country in the world to be valued at $1 trillion last year, outpacing rivals in France and Germany with its tech unicorns, and this growth is showing no signs of slowing in 2024. Yet, despite this success, a puzzling question remains: why isn’t this innovation translating into productivity gains? The answer lies in outdated systems, rigid work habits and a workforce often lacking the right digital skills needed to drive innovation forward. These barriers create a significant gap between technological potential and actual productivity.

Modernising systems and work practices

To bridge this gap, we must modernise outdated systems, adapt work habits and boost digital skills at all organisational levels. The SaaS sector has significant potential to enhance the quantity and quality of work output. The focus should not be on whether technology can drive productivity, but on how it can be optimised to do so, with the customer at the centre.

Developing impactful products that integrate into broader systems to streamline and automate processes is crucial. Effective product design ensures that technology solutions are intuitive, user-friendly and capable of addressing real-world problems. Research shows that 90% of knowledge workers experience increased job satisfaction and productivity through automation. To achieve excellence in user experience, it is essential to understand and address these broader needs. This involves creating products that seamlessly fit into daily routines and existing tech tools, eliminating inefficiencies and boosting productivity.

For instance, tools that address critical user concerns such as time management and communication efficiency can directly enhance productivity. By eliminating inefficiencies in everyday tasks, organisations can unlock potential for greater creativity and productivity.

Elevating user experience through education

Investing in comprehensive customer support, training and marketing is also key. These elements foster loyalty and ensure that users see a product as indispensable to their operations. Effective customer education programmes can dramatically increase user engagement and proficiency, allowing customers to fully leverage product capabilities.

Customer support, often overlooked, plays a vital role in enhancing productivity. By providing timely assistance and resources, support teams can help users overcome obstacles, maximise the value derived from products and maintain high levels of productivity. For example, detailed onboarding processes and readily accessible help centres can significantly enhance the user experience – boosting productivity at all levels of a business.

Addressing the digital literacy gap

Mastering new digital tools and platforms is essential for employees across sectors. Recognising the importance of digital literacy is equally crucial for organisations aiming to enhance productivity and maintain a competitive edge. A report by Lloyds Bank highlighted an £85 billion productivity gap caused by a lack of digital skills among SMEs, making digital literacy a critical board-level topic and undoubtedly a broader societal need.

Digital literacy initiatives should be comprehensive, offering training that covers both basic and advanced technological skills. Organisations can benefit from partnerships with educational institutions and tech companies to provide ongoing training and development

Leading the productivity charge

The shift towards customer-centred innovation and a commitment to digital literacy should be embraced by all sectors in the UK and beyond. By reevaluating our approach to innovation and skill development, from startups to established enterprises, UK workers can overcome the productivity paradox and achieve higher levels of productivity.

This transformation involves creating a culture that values continuous improvement and adaptability. Encouraging employees to experiment with new tools and approaches, and providing them with the necessary resources and support, can lead to significant productivity gains. Furthermore, policy makers and industry leaders should collaborate to create an ecosystem that supports technological adoption and workforce development.


Vicky Wills

Vicky Wills is the CTO at Exclaimer, an email signature software platform. With over 10 years of experience, she has led technology teams at Depop, Opendesk, and Zego. Vicky specialises in building and scaling tech teams in early-stage and high-growth companies.


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