By Stuart Hall, Sales Director UK for Epicor Software

It comes as no surprise that the issue of low productivity in the UK and the impact it is having on the economy, has been dominating the news recently. In fact, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has recently reported that productivity growth is currently the weakest it has been since the Second World War.

As a result, George Osborne has stated that resolving this economic challenge and boosting productivity in the UK is at the forefront of his policies. The Chancellor is aiming to publish a productivity plan before his summer budget, in early July, with the focus on how to increase the quality of growth within the UK. He has suggested that the UK could become the “most prosperous country in the world” but only if historic weaknesses in the UK’s infrastructure and skills-base are remedied.

So what can UK businesses do to help to close the productivity gap? Can technology provide a solution?

Many UK companies have held back on large scale investment since the recession in 2008. However, by investing in the latest technologies, productivity amongst employees naturally increases, as well as providing encouragement that the business is moving forward and keeping up with the competitive global marketplace. A survey by Frost & Sullivan, showed that companies who invest in technology increased productivity by as much as 400%.

Fundamentally, businesses need to ensure they provide all employees with the right tools within the workplace — and this includes the right technology. Outside of the workplace employees often have access to high speed broadband on their own smartphone or tablets. This can provide a stark contrast if at work, systems are old, and inflexible, affecting productivity and employee morale

It is also worth keeping in mind, the increased use of mobility within the workforce. According to IDCp, in 2015 one third of the global workplace, (the equivalent to 1.3 billion people) will work remotely. BYOD (bring your own device) is a trend that will continue to grow–no longer are all staff coming into the office and turning on their desktop machine, as many use a laptop, tablet or smartphone. Therefore, it’s important that even business software applications are available for employees to use on their device of choice, as this will allow them to access the required information from anywhere and at any time, but within a secure environment.

Similarly, streamlining business processes is important to boost productivity. Software solutions and systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) can become the key. ERP solutions collect and organise data across an entire organisation, providing valuable insights into KPIs - all in real time. With instant 24/7 monitoring of production and process, businesses will have the ability to access real-time information, leading to reduced machine downtime, unlocked capacity, and reduced inventory and labour costs. This in turn will help to improve productivity.

Successfully utilising technology will provide businesses with an integrated view of company operations, ultimately having an impact on the efficiency of the management team, and therefore the overall productivity of the company. All workers will understand the positive effects a smooth running team can have, such as employee satisfaction, quality of performance and timely, efficient accomplishment of goals. It’s about becoming more responsive, reacting to challenges quicker, increasing transparency across the entire organisation and leveraging all information gained in the past to avoid any future issues.