Renewing Great British Enterprise through digital transformation after Covid-19

Sue de Wit, Senior Vice President Atos|Syntel UK&I and Chief of Staff Atos UK&I

Sue is an ICT Outsourcing professional with extensive experience of Account Management, Customer Relationship Management, Strategic Customer Satisfaction Management, Service Management, Project and Programme management, P&L management, contract re-negotiation, People management, Change management and business process improvement within the public and private sector.

From a public health perspective, recent data and the easing of the lockdown both suggest that we may be on the brink of turning the corner of the Covid-19 pandemic – but for the economy, the challenges are only just beginning. A sea-change in economic policy will be needed to renew UK PLC.

In his summer economic statement earlier this month, the Chancellor focused on supporting a return to growth and tackling rising joblessness, particularly among young people. Initiatives such as more funding for training and apprenticeships could help to boost confidence as the UK emerges from the downturn.

At the same time, the seismic shift in the UK’s economic outlook seen over recent months means that we must also keep sight of the longer-term policy challenges which were of greater focus within government before the crisis, including increasing productivity.

Raising the UK’s productivity, and in particular reducing regional inequalities in this area, through ‘levelling up’ have been at the forefront of the Prime Minister’s agenda during his first year in office. As recently as his speech on 30 June, Boris Johnson recognised the huge potential of the UK’s “best and most productive companies in the world”, but said that the cost of delay, further hindered by the coronavirus pandemic, creates a “massive drag on the productivity and the prosperity of this country.”

Whilst recent government announcements – including the accelerated delivery of £5bn of infrastructure projects – are a step in the right direction, a core part of the Government’s plan to boost productivity should be harnessing the opportunities arising from digital transformation across the public and private sectors.

Digital transformation offers opportunities that have until recently been non-existent. Our calculations suggest that the national economy could benefit to the tune of £34bn a year by 2030 if the local economies of towns and cities were to realise the full potential of digital technology over the next decade.

What Britain now needs is a digital culture to capitalise on this momentum.

First, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy must act to ensure that geography is never a barrier to entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial outcomes can vary significantly within and between different city economies. By establishing digital regional clusters, this will help businesses innovate and test ideas, and digital business links will support the adoption of new technologies boosted by full fibre.

Secondly, immense opportunity comes with better access to digital tools, for example Enterprise Accounts – digital platforms that aggregate and personalise information, advice and guidance for businesses. The ‘Enterprise Account’ would be a one-stop-shop for financing options, mentoring schemes, training opportunities and any other information that can help British entrepreneurs thrive.

Finally, we must not lose the spirit of partnership and collaboration that has defined businesses of all sectors and sizes over recent months. Using the power of data sharing and interaction, we’re able to identify business that have the potential to scale-up.

Of course, digital technology on its own will not increase productivity and revitalise growth in towns and cities. But with fiscal support from the Government and investment in transport links and services, unleashing the potential of digital technology will both complement and enhance all policy levers that are being deployed to support the immediate economic recovery and boost growth over the long-term as we embark upon the journey to renewing Great British Enterprise.

Related Resources

Productivity – Digital Society

Renewing Great British Enterprise

Digital Society

Exploring the role of technology in a changing world

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Sue de Wit

Senior Vice President Atos|Syntel UK&I and Chief of Staff Atos UK&I

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