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Guest opinion: Productivity and the app gap

The latest UK labour productivity figures have shown how the productivity gap continues to grow between Britain and the other members of the G7 group of industrial nations. Indeed, the gap is now at its greatest since the early 1990s when modern records began.

And with the unemployment rate continuing to fall – dropping to 5.2 per cent last year, the lowest figure in close to a decade – both policymakers and businesses face a serious challenge in generating greater output for every hour worked.

The government is acutely aware of the problem. Last year, Business Secretary, Sajid Javid, labelled productivity “the economic challenge of our age”, while the government announced a range of measures to try to address Britain’s poor productivity performance: this mix of government intervention and deregulation spanned across skills, apprenticeships and universities, to transport, housing, and finance.

However, a key component to Britain’s productivity was overlooked.

For an increasing number of professional occupations, IT systems and access to data are often cited as frustrating workers’ ability to achieve their full potential. The true impact of this is often underestimated, either through discrediting the time as mere seconds or viewing slow IT as a necessary evil.

But, these wasted moments soon add up. New research, commissioned by Nimble Storage, indicates that a typical employee experiences an average of four software caused delays per work day, each of which last about 7 seconds. Indeed, based on the average hourly wage in the UK, the cost of this time to the British economy amounts to £744,235,520 every year.

The application economy

Technology is playing an increasingly important role across all industries in the UK and globally. Indeed, organisations of all sizes are using technology to transform and modernise, helping them to grow their capabilities and progress digital projects.

Indeed, applications are playing an ever-more important role in our experience at work. Companies often rely on hundreds – and in some cases, thousands – of applications at the heart of every imaginable business process, from product development, to sales and marketing. And as our jobs become increasingly dependent on IT, the impact that application delays have on employee productivity and performance is substantial.

For the success of many of these new digital processes rely on rapid, uninterrupted access to data. When the delivery of data to applications is disrupted, a gap is created. This app-data gap not only has a negative impact on user experience, but also has repercussions on the business outcome and the organisational effectiveness. Indeed, 61 per cent of IT decision makers surveyed as part of Nimble Storage’s research believe the speed of the applications they use significantly affects their ability to perform best at work.

A burden on British business

It is essential that businesses looking to drive greater productivity consider how they can close the app-data gap. Few organisations – if any – are spared: 94 per cent of British IT staff admit experiencing delays while using business software applications for accessing and inputting information. And as many as 42 per cent estimate that they waste as much as 10 to 30 minutes on application response delays every day.

But it’s not just productivity that the app-data gap is stifling. Many organisations are looking to new technology and solutions to innovate processes and help improve their employees’ performance. For instance, many small and mid-sized businesses are increasingly turning to customer relationship management applications to help them improve their services.

However, with 25 per cent of business users stating they avoid using some software applications at work completely because they run too slowly, application delays are posing a significant threat to companies looking to innovate. It is therefore imperative that companies close the app-data gap, not only to improve the performance of current work practices, but also to futureproof their organisation against the any roadblocks in new processes.

Closing the app-data gap

While it is clear that positive cultural changes can help drive greater productivity, it is important to also look at how the IT infrastructure they are providing is impacting their workers’ performance.

Too frequently, IT teams automatically associate any performance delays with a data storage issue. In fact, in more than half of the cases that Nimble Storage examined, performance issues originated from complex infrastructures unrelated to storage, which then created the app-data gap and disrupted data delivery – this essentially resulted in the information not being made instantly available and stalling the process.

Organisations looking to plug the gap should take a holistic approach to their IT infrastructure to address the issue and ultimately improve productivity. Investing in technologies that incorporate both predictive analytics which can automatically predict and prevent concerns as they arise will significantly reduce this burden.

Not only can this be achieved in the short term, by anticipating and quickly responding to complex issues, staving off hot spots, and simplifying planning, but predictive solutions can make forecasts for the application performance storage capacity. This information ultimately help IT admins plan for improvements to be made seamlessly and with minimum disruption.

It is essential for the future growth of British business and the wider economy, that the UK plugs its app-data gap. While digital solutions have provided organisations with the potential to innovate and become more productive, it is important that those factors impeding this are mitigated. Unproductive digital processes must be proactively identified and mitigated to reduce both employee frustration and to enable them to get back their wasted hours.

Seamless and effective business applications are crucial to Britain’s future productivity and to the growth of the economy. It is time for organisations to take on one of the economic challenge of our age and plug the app-data gap.