Despite having low unemployment and long working hours, the UK has been struggling with productivity output for the past few years. According to data from the Office of National Statistics, UK workers clock up an average of 42.7 hours, compared with 41.6 across the EU; yet, on average, we produce 30% less per hour than workers in France and 10% less than workers in Italy.

With outputs per hour from UK workers in 2014 20 percentage points below the average of other G7 nations, UK’s productivity gap has become a cause for concern for government officials. Whilst the UK’s labour productivity grew by 0.9% this year, between the first and second quarter of 2015, it is still 15% below what was expected for 2015, based on pre-downturn figures.

According to economists, one of the main reasons for this gap is due to the lack of investment in technology. Companies are not investing enough in the latest technologies or on research and development, which is often the cause and enabler of innovation.

Technology may help, but merely adopting it isn’t enough. Companies need to know how to leverage technology to help boost productivity levels. Rather than simply adopting technology, companies need to understand the right strategy when looking at technology to help them to be more productive. Here are Mubaloo, we call this taking a human centric approach to innovation. By using a human centric strategy, this can help to promote adoption and drive value for the end users.

A human centric approach is about understanding the problems facing an individual user, to get to the centre of where issues are arising. By understanding the workflows, it’s possible to identify ways in which processes can be improved and the gaps where technology is either failing or missing.

A human centric approach is largely driven by the consumerisation of IT, which changed the way we looked at our interaction with technology and how we used it. People adopt what makes their lives easier and leave behind things that add no value. This is what companies should be looking at when thinking about enterprise applications. Often with apps, the thought behind them is incomplete, as they aren’t always approached from the perspective of the user. Companies need to change their way of thinking when it comes their strategy and look at the bigger picture, at where the overall ROI is.

One of the key things we talk about is designing apps that are designed to change, rather than last. Think about what was required in the past if a price of a product changed – all of the brochure and collateral re-printing, re-distribution and educating channel partners or customers – the impact was huge. With mobile and apps these sorts of changes can be more easily implemented to meet user needs and solve business challenges.

We repeatedly see the impact that mobile has on improving efficiencies. The key with helping the UK to solve its productivity issue is to focus on the needs of the users and understand why they are falling behind. Mobile may not always be the answer, but in many cases it can help to automate other tasks which take time away from the job at hand.

As mentioned in our ‘Guide to Approaching Innovation’ white paper, companies can’t be afraid to fail. When it comes to innovation, if you get it right first time you are not innovating enough. Using tools such as user testing, prototyping and creating minimum viable products help companies to quickly identify where those mistakes are, to allow rapid and iterative response to the user’s behaviours and the feedback they are giving. This will help companies align more closely with the employee’s way of working in eradicating the obstacles that prevent them from operating in the most effective way. By approaching innovation strategy in this way, companies can create solutions in an agile and adaptive way to fit to the changing needs of the user.

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