London Image by Pete Linforth from PixabayDocuSign has published findings from a survey that looks at the preparedness of UK businesses for the future. The majority, 74% of businesses, do not believe they are ready. The results are based on a survey of 450 IT decision-makers in business conducted by Sapio Research.

Respondents were from all sizes of companies, and little demographic information was provided. While this casts a slight doubt on the value of the findings, the sample size is significant enough to look at the findings.

For organisations to be ready for the future, 33% perceive tech innovation as fundamental for their future readiness. For larger firms and enterprises, this percentage rises to 43%. Only 24% of UK firms feel that they are future-ready. What the published findings don’t say is what the remainder felt.

Why are organisations not ready?

For UK Plc to thrive, firms need to overcome challenges in the face of a looming recession. The survey identified three main challenges business face to make themselves future-ready.

  • 44% of businesses cannot afford the investment needed to update systems and invest in digital transformation.
  • 18% see the skills gap as the biggest inhibitor
  • 16% see their existing infrastructure as the biggest inhibitor to change

The survey looked deeper into the importance of talent in the future. 55% of respondents saw digital and technical skills as important. That number rose to 63% for enterprise businesses with more than 1,000 employees. However, the survey did not seem to ask about the importance of soft skills, which other surveys have highlighted as critically important for businesses in the future.

Firms seem more focused on talent than investment in technology, which ignores the opportunity for third-party involvement in their projects. 56% are concerned about recruitment and talent management (though the findings do not expand on talent management, did that mean retention or upskilling). DocuSign believes that the labour market will remain tight in 2023.

However, if the recession bites, more firms may shed staff, which may mean there are opportunities to pick up new people. The question is whether these people will have the right skills. Even if they come from the well-publicised layoffs of tech giants, these may not be the engineers that organisations need.

What are they doing about it?

While most organisations are not ready, many have started down the road to transformation. 62% of respondents have looked at and improved their core IT processes over the last two years—26% more plan to do so in the next 12 months. What the remaining 12% said is unclear. They could have no plans or may already have transformed.

The thing about digital transformation is that this should not be approached as a one-time thing but as something continuous. Worryingly only 29% review their IT processes annually. Organisations should adopt a Kaizen approach to continuous improvement.

The term was coined by the Japanese firm Toyota after the second world war and inspired by W. Edwards Demming, who said, “Improvement of Quality and Productivity, to be successful in any company, must be a learning process, year by year, top management leading the whole company.”

More firms have invested in other technology with:

  • 54% investing in physical employee infrastructure
  • 45% investing in video conferencing tools
  • 44% invested in collaboration software

What about those future-ready businesses

The survey also asked the 24% of businesses that considered themselves future-ready how they achieved that. There were 4 stand out components

  • 64% rated digital skills as critical to their business (far greater than the 52% for the rest of the sample)
  • 66% have built a digital-first culture (45% on average)
  • 69% have adopted a digital-first strategy (45% on average)
  • They are more likely than other respondents to have already invested in digitising their workflows and removing friction from legacy systems

DocuSign also flagged a fourth where only 14% see no barriers in further transformation, against 5% of the rest. However, these statistics should be looked at the other way around with the inference that we still see barriers to digital transformation. For those who have started down the digital transformation path, it indicates that this is a journey, not a destination.

Enterprise Times: What does this mean?

DocuSign published these findings in a single press release. Enterprise Times asked for the full report but was told there wasn’t one. This is a shame. There were some interesting findings in the report that deserved better analysis. The big concern is that UK Plc is not well prepared for a potential recession, and while there will be some winners, the lack of investment capability could see it fall behind rivals.

The recent finding by the IMF indicating that the UK economy would contract in 2023 before rebounding in 2024 seems to vindicate this. Organisations need to carefully consider where they invest, and while the focus is on building staff and skills, perhaps there are wiser choices for expansion and growth.

Ronan Copeland, Group VP & GM, EMEA, DocuSign
Ronan Copeland, Group VP & GM, EMEA, DocuSign

Ronan Copeland, Group VP & GM, EMEA, DocuSign, commented, “UK businesses face a challenging 2023. Greater digitisation is enabling new market opportunities, but many say they need a stronger economic situation before further investment. Those that do feel most ‘future ready’ are prioritising iterative steps to optimise their processes to get them closer to their goals, something those who don’t feel as confident can take solace from.”


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