IT sector must try harder

The first joint Cranfield and Microsoft quarterly survey, examining the thinking of 320 British CEOs and directors, showed a lack of emphasis on technology as a strategic business driver. But perhaps the greatest cause for concern for Britain’s global competitiveness is the distant relationship that our business leaders have with their customers.

Analysis also revealed that 73% of directors still do not see IT as the most critical strategic driver of their business and 76% said that a straight e-commerce operation was the least likely way their firms would be structured in the future. This is despite the present government’s Digital Economy agenda.

Neil Holloway, managing director of Microsoft commented: “With the Internet, all the traditional rules and ways of doing business have changed. The end customer is determining the new rules and mass personalisation is what businesses need to deliver on. Britain will see its economic potential eaten away before its eyes by clever and hungry dot com start-ups unless it exploits E-commerce immediately. Spend time with customers every day, get a 30 year old on your board and be a customer of your own company if you want to cannibalise your own business before someone else does it to you.”

Directors are torn between short-term business pressures at the expense of long term innovation and customer relationship management. Some 90% see customers as the main source of pressure on productivity although they only spend 8% of their time with them and over half see their business being structured as services companies.

Murray Steele, head of Strategic Management Group, Cranfield School of Management added: “Britain’s leading companies need to give even more attention to innovation – both to the processes at an organisational level and the people that make up British organisations – we need to be excellent today and tomorrow.”