‘US multinational firms are on average 8.5 per cent more productive than UK domestic-owned firms, and almost all of this difference is due to the higher productivity impact of their use of IT’. This was one of the stand-out comments in the recent Technology Insights 2012 report from e-skills, the sector skills body for business and IT, a finding based on research from both the London School of Economics and the UK Office for National Statistics.
Although Technology Insights 2012 focuses on the UK’s IT and telecoms workforce and its competitiveness, the ways in which IT is being used in the wider business community also emerges as a significant factor. Reports investigating the relationship between the effective application of IT and improved productivity found that increased investment in ICT capital has played a major role in the doubling of US productivity growth rates - commonly referred to as the ‘productivity miracle’.
US firms seem to be using IT to boost their productivity more effectively than UK companies, due in part to a disparity between managers’ ability to maximise returns from company investment in technology – something finance professionals could help to rectify by encouraging smarter use of tools such as the (not so) humble spreadsheet.
There is a big difference between asking ‘Can you do a spreadsheet of this data so that I can use it to make some decisions?’ and saying ‘Do a spreadsheet, and build me a model so that we can explore the possibilities for the next quarter.’