UK lagging behind in digital innovation and productivity

UK businesses might be falling behind other global counterparts when it comes to digital innovation, as they are failing to invest in the necessary skills, a new report has claimed.

The Barclays Digital Development Index looked at ten countries from across the world and measured their ability to compete in a digital economy.

A score was given to each nation, and the UK was found to lag behind several countries, including ‘digital tiger’ economies in South Korea, Sweden and Estonia.

The survey looked at 10,000 working adults and analysed the frameworks that exist for developing digital skills in all of the locations.

A gap was found between digital policies and engagement in the UK, while a lack of confidence in all things digital was found among the British workforce.

The UK has always had a strong track record when it comes to technological innovation, but a lack of skills could slow both businesses and the economy.

According to the Barclays report, Britain must look further afield than just Europe when it comes to digital development, claiming that it “isn’t simply a European question”.

The UK does perform well for the development of digital skills but low capability and confidence in skills place it behind rivals including India, China and the USA.

Coding and content creation were also not strongpoints for the UK, as it ranked in seventh of ten, placing firms on the back foot.

Given the importance of digital skills to modern businesses, those that lack the skills or that do not implement good digital policies might be risking ruin.

The threat of cyber-attacks is greater now than ever before and the costs associated with one can be debilitating – damaging finances, reputation and many other aspects of the business too.

Insolvency can be a serious threat in some instances, and especially those where alternative financial options cannot be sought, or where a reputation is damaged beyond the point of repair.

When compared to other global countries, the statistics for the UK  do not paint a pretty picture – just 16% of those in the UK would feel comfortable building a website, compared to 39% and 37% in Brazil and India respectively.

It is a similar story when it comes to developing mobile apps and games too, as 11% of Brits would be comfortable doing that – twice that figure said they would feel that way in the USA and three times that figure said the same in India.

The UK has a strong foundation on which to develop digital skills, but on the evidence of the Barclays report, more work needs to be done.

By Phil Smith

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