Microsoft Lambasts UK Organisations’ Digital Caution

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British businesses and public-sector organisations need to cast aside concerns about digital tech and be more aggressive, Microsoft says

Microsoft has urged British public- and private-sector organisations to step into line and embrace digital technologies, in light of a new study finding widespread resistance to new approaches.

The study, carried out by YouGov on Microsoft’s behalf, found 46 percent of management-level respondents said senior leaders in their organisations were unwilling to change existing practices in order to improve their competitiveness, in spite of 44 percent of business leaders saying they think their existing business models will cease to exist in the next five years.

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Competitive ‘anxiety’

The study found the highest level of “anxiety” in the financial services sector, where two-thirds (65 percent) said they feared the impact of market changes over the next two years.

This was mainly due to fears over the entry of new competitors, with 33 percent in financial services citing this factor as the biggest cause for concern, compared to only 10 percent in retail and manufacturing.

The financial services sector also had the highest proportion of companies with a formal digital strategy in place, at two-thirds (64 percent).

The study found that the public sector was the most cautious about the privacy and security implications of rapidly implemented digital projects, with 56 percent concerned about it, compared with 48 percent in financial services and 47 percent in retail.

Public-sector groups also had the lowest proportion with formal digital strategies, at 35 percent, with 26 percent saying they had no such strategy in place.

Social concerns

Public sector respondents agreed that a digitally literate leadership team was important for implementing digital projects, but only 35 percent said such a team was in place.

The study found widespread concern over the social impact of digital changes, with 33 percent across all sectors saying they thought older workers would be left behind in some ways, rising to 40 percent for those in retail.

The study’s findings of digital caution in the public sector are borne out by other recent studies, including a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) that found a major Defra digital project had gone awry due to conflict at the senior management level between Defra and the Cabinet Office’s more aggressive Government Digital Service (GDS).

GDS has seen major leadership changes since August and has recently signalled it plans to take a less “adversarial” approach.

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