Technology drives efficiency - execs

Most UK managers say technology has made their companies most effective, although their personal efficiency has not been boosted

More than half of UK management claim their companies have become more efficient in the past three years, with technology cited as the main reason, according to a new survey.

The SAP Efficiency in Business survey was carried out in conjunction with UK online for business, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), FT.com and HP and questioned almost 2,000 employees from middle management to board level.

The difficult economic climate has forced most companies to rationalise, but 81 per cent said technology was the main driver for positive improvements in efficiency. This was particularly the case in the aerospace and defence, oil and gas and the public sectors.

But almost two-thirds of senior managers said their personal efficiency had not increased, and that their time was not being used as well as it could be with technology, or a lack of, to blame.

"Dead-time" wasted by commuting, especially in the South East, and the difficulty of accessing business systems away from the office were the main gripes, with employees spending more and more time away from the office PC.

Peter Robertshaw, UK marketing director at SAP, said staff feel under pressure to spend more time in the office that could be resolved by firms enabling them to make more use of "dead time".

"Technology has improved the efficiency of organisations but it still has a job to do for individuals. It is about utilising the three key areas out of the office -- travelling, working from home -- and being on-site."

But he admitted for employees to be able to have useful real-time access to a company's main business systems, there needs to be cheaper and more widely available broadband.

He said: "There is a need to access business processes and not just emails. But we need to enable broadband access for that."

Liz Grant, director of ePolicy and delivery at the DTI, said in a statement that the survey shows firms can improve performance through the effective use of IT.

"However, it also highlights the need to focus on cultural and organisational issues, as real business successes can only be achieved when an integrated approach is taken to issues relating to people, process and technology," she said.