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Not just a silver lining

New technologies can yield big improvements in productivity, but what does this mean for the back office in practice? David Adams finds out.

Modern society’s relationship with computer technology is perhaps a little dysfunctional. Most of us now carry mobile phones that are vastly more powerful than the average desktop computer of 20 years ago. Yet most of us generally use them for leisure purposes, not for work. Many of us are hopelessly addicted to time-wasting on our phones whenever we get a spare moment. Those of us who use a computer at work may well succumb to the temptation to use them to waste time too.

But technology really can make almost any worker, in almost any organisation, more effective, efficient and productive; and can boost productivity of business functions within organisations, including the finance function and other parts of the back office.

Organisations of all kinds in the UK need to take advantage of the technologies that will drive these improvements, because productivity in the UK has fallen behind other G8 economies, including Germany, France and the US, since the financial crisis, according to the Bank of England. There is a clear need for technologies that will make UK businesses more productive – in particular the UK’s SMEs (by definition private businesses with 249 employees or fewer). They are vitally important to the UK economy; by 2015 they employed 60% of private sector workers in the UK and accounted for 47% of private sector revenues (£1.75trn), according to UK government figures.

This is an extract from the Finance & Management Magazine, Issue 242, April 2016

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