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Invest in untapped digital innovation opportunities to save now and get future fit

Most UK businesses have invested in digitisation but there are still untapped opportunities. Find out how to boost your customer and employee experience.

Digital transformation is now all but universal. In our recent FutureFit survey of 500 UK business decision-makers, 93% say they have invested in digitisation and 59% plan to invest more in the coming years. 

This investment has given businesses visibility into operations and the power to analyse and forecast their performance. This new knowledge is the most highly prized benefit of digital transformation, with 54% ranking it in their top three. 

And 58% agree that ‘digitisation gives us a better view of how our company is operating, allowing us to make more informed decisions’.

Investing in AI: the spend to save trend

Given this appetite for insight, it is no surprise that businesses are also investing in AI,  which can help them spot patterns in their data and anticipate trends. 

More than seven out of ten (71%) business decision-makers have invested in AI, with a further 22% expecting to do so in the next two years. AI is progressing gradually, however: only 2% of respondents have already invested in AI and expect to spend more over the next one to two years.

 

Has your company invested and/or is it looking to invest in digitisation or AI?  (% of respondents)

Still, talk of AI adoption as economic uncertainty mounts might have some workers worried whether they stand to be replaced.

But only 33% of respondents view ‘wage reductions’ as one of the benefits of digital transformation. The view that digital technology can replace human labour is not widespread, this suggests.

Satisfied staff – an untapped digitisation opportunity

Employee satisfaction is a driver of digital investment plans, with 38% identifying it as a benefit of digital transformation. 

This is an area of untapped opportunity for digital innovation: companies who wish to attract and retain sought-after talent should consider the digital employee experience they offer. Given that so much work is now digitally mediated, it may have as much of a bearing on employee satisfaction as the physical workplace. 

There is an opportunity to use AI and other technologies such as robotic process automation to automate repetitive admin tasks and boost productivity. Not only can this make work less boring for employees, but it can also free them up to focus on more valuable tasks.

Creating a compelling customer experience

Fewer than half of respondents (48%) agree that their business is using digitisation to disrupt its core business process. 

Not every process needs to be disrupted, of course, but this suggests that businesses are stopping short of truly transformational digital innovation. 

Fewer than half of respondents (48%) agree that their business is using digitisation to disrupt its core business process.

Even fewer (44%) agree that digitisation makes their business more attractive to new customers through the creation of better experiences. This is despite 48% identifying ‘improved customer experience’ as a key benefit of digital transformation. 

For the size of businesses surveyed, especially those outside the digital sector, it can be difficult to match the user experience expectations set by the big tech giants.

But innovation isn’t out of reach: creating a compelling customer experience online doesn’t require expensive technology so much as an idea on how your product or service can be delivered in a more convenient and engaging way. 

Next steps to getting future fit

Against the backdrop of rising costs, it could be easy for companies to consider a reduction in digitisation spend. But sensible further investments could in fact both reduce costs and help protect revenue by boosting productivity and the employee experience. 

In the current climate, its less about ’moonshot’ investments and more about focusing on optimisation strategies that are targeted in the benefits they deliver in the near and medium term. In the short-term, this might be as focused as making more of existing data, further automation of processes or getting legacy systems to talk to each other. 

However, in the medium term these investments can lead to broader benefits of cost efficiency, achieving better customer experiences, product innovation and employee satisfaction.

Get future fit

Tomorrow’s truly sustainable businesses will be built on the actions we take today.

Discover more ideas here 

This material is published by NatWest Group plc (“NatWest Group”), for information purposes only and should not be regarded as providing any specific advice. Recipients should make their own independent evaluation of this information and no action should be taken, solely relying on it. This material should not be reproduced or disclosed without our consent. It is not intended for distribution in any jurisdiction in which this would be prohibited. Whilst this information is believed to be reliable, it has not been independently verified by NatWest Group and NatWest Group makes no representation or warranty (express or implied) of any kind, as regards the accuracy or completeness of this information, nor does it accept any responsibility or liability for any loss or damage arising in any way from any use made of or reliance placed on, this information. Unless otherwise stated, any views, forecasts, or estimates are solely those of the NatWest Group Economics Department, as of this date and are subject to change without notice.

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