Business Leaders ‘Positive on Technology-led Change’

Global business leaders are generally positive about the impacts of technology-led change on creativity and innovation and are concerned about keeping up with the pace of change, according to technology group Ricoh.

The insights come from a new study called
‘Humans and Machines’
, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and sponsored by Ricoh, which investigates the impacts of technology upon human creativity and intuition.

The study, based on a survey of 432 senior executives conducted last November and December, found that their challenges are focused on system and process issues rather than stifled intuition or a possible takeover by computers or robots. European business leaders are most concerned about keeping up with the pace of change; 45% of Europeans said they were worried about not being able to keep up with technology and losing competitive edge, compared with 35% in Asia and 37% in North America. 

Asked to rank their top technology challenges, business leaders placed ‘systems not connected to each other’ in the top spot, followed closely by the fact that ‘technology is evolving more quickly than the internal processes that support it’. European business leaders are most impacted by disconnected systems (46%) compared to 39% in Asia and 34% in North America.

“European businesses leaders face a challenging time – in addition to technology led change they must manage complex regulations and grow their businesses in a competitive and mature landscape,” said Carsten Bruhn, executive vice president, Ricoh Europe.

“In addition, they are focused upon recovering from the global economic crisis, where the viability of the euro is being questioned. While this may attribute to their increased concern about remaining competitive, what is important is to determine what can be done to help drive growth and business agility into the future.

“The study exposes the need for European organisations to review the way they work and prepare to transform their traditional way of doing things. Through better integration of their systems and more streamlined business processes that connect their people and their technology they can improve employee knowledge sharing, be more responsive to client needs and ensure an agile business infrastructure that is ready to meet the needs of the future.”

According to the study, business leaders do believe they are more creative today than they were 10 years ago, although again optimism is lower in Europe (52%) than in Asia (64%) and North America (63%). Europeans are also less positive about whether technology helps them make good decisions, with 40% believing it to be the case, compared to Asia (59%) and North America (52%).

However in some areas Europeans are more confident; 65% believe that technology has helped drive open debate and discussion within their organisations, compared to 57% in Asia.  Europeans are also more confident about the role of technology in terms of improving productivity, with 72% saying they believed this was the case, compared to 59% in North America and 68% in Asia. 

Bruhn added: “It is clear that the impacts of technology are varied, a one-size approach to transformation is not possible. What is certain is – change is unavoidable. The ways of working that we have taken for granted are unlikely to survive much longer. However a workplace where decisions are made entirely by computers or robots isn’t forecast by global readers just yet.

“The future shows great potential for humans to benefit from more creative and informed decision making, supported by technology, effective business processes and new ways to share and access information. If European business leaders master a truly connected and efficient workplace, just imagine what can be achieved on top of what has already been experienced today.”

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