UK Business Stuck in Time Warp

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A study undertaken on behalf of communications and IT business, Daisy Group, surveyed a segment of the working population and found that businesses are confined to technology and operations reminiscent of the 80s, 90s and noughties, such as the use of floppy disks, with some even advocating smoking in the office.

Despite the explosion of cloud computing, 61 per cent of workers said cumbersome filing cabinets were still actively in use, and almost half (46%) said that their employer still used a fax machine to send documents to clients rather than using email or file sharing tools such as Dropbox.

Although incompatible with contemporary PCs and laptops, floppy disks are, surprisingly, still popular with eight per cent of UK businesses. Similarly, five per cent are still using cathode ray tube (‘fat’) monitors, suggesting that some companies haven’t upgraded their hardware since the late 90s.

Kate O’Brien, Marketing Director at Daisy Group, said: “The business world is extremely fast-paced and it’s easy for time to run away before companies notice that they are using equipment and practises from a bygone era.

“Although it can be difficult to keep pace with modern technology, it is important that companies understand that technology is no longer a luxury, but a necessary business utility. The consequences of failing to keep up can have serious impacts on security, resiliency, productivity, customer relationships and ultimately financial returns.”

It appears that businesses are just as eager to hang on to outmoded stationery and desk supplies, with more than a third of businesses (38%) expecting staff to use in-trays to manage their workload. Nearly one in ten (9%) still encourage staff to use a business card holder or rolodex to store their contact information, rather than storing them electronically.

When asked about the mobility of the business they worked for, more than three quarters (77%) said their employer still hadn’t discovered the cloud’s data storage capabilities and a remarkable 84 per cent said that they weren’t encouraged to work flexibly (either remotely or from home). However, this is probably a relief for many, as 70 per cent said they were only provided with heavy, bulky laptops, instead of super-slim ones or tablets.

Public and voluntary sector organisations were identified as being the most likely to be stuck in the past, with more than half of workers saying they still regularly use equipment from yesteryear. However, those working in the computing and electronics sector, despite being more closely acquainted with modern technology, said they were just as likely to be expected to use outmoded equipment like filing cabinets (63%), fax machines (42%), answering machines (29%), and in-trays (38%).

When asked about the adoption of technologies which are likely to be instrumental in the workplace of the future, only three per cent of businesses had given staff access to wearable devices.

Kate O’Brien added: “The speed of technological change means that business culture, practices and profit margins are drastically changing. Instead of thinking about catching up to the technology that’s in use now, businesses need to start looking beyond that to the future, and planning for 2020 rather than 2015.

“In many cases, change brings with it expense and disruption so when you’re busy dealing with the here and now, spending valuable time considering and planning for what could happen in five years’ time can seem like an extravagant luxury.

“However, planning for the future and implementing the right technology at the right time can make a big difference to how your business operates. As the majority of technology is underpinned by the connectivity powering it, businesses can actually make significant progress in becoming a 2020 business simply by having a fast and reliable internet connection.”