Nobel laureate Paul Krugman says that the UK’s future prosperity depends on increasing productivity. Which is why it is worrying that productivity has barely grown in the UK since the financial crisis, and now lags 35% behind Germany and 30% behind the US. In real terms, this means that it takes a German worker four days to produce what a British worker makes in five; too many British workers are working longer hours for lower pay.Whilst no one knows exactly what is causing this productivity gap, economists have a variety of theories. These include underinvestment, skills shortages and the existence of a growing volume of ‘zombie’ businesses – those able to pay off only the interest on their debts and only surviving due to low interest rates.
So what is to be done?
There is both good and bad news in this. The good news is that with productivity so low, there is plenty of room for improvement. The bad news is that the gap is widening. In his autumn statement in 2016, chancellor Phillip Hammond said that improving productivity was the “central long-term economic challenge” for the UK. The government has identified investment in infrastructure, technology and skills as what is needed to drive up productivity and close the gap.
What does this mean for field service companies?
In some industries, it is easy to measure productivity. For example, it is easy to count the widgets coming off a production line. This in turn makes it easier to improve processes and increase productivity. But for companies with remote workers, it is a harder task. Field service leaders need to understand how current procedures affect productivity, to spot opportunities to improve and to implement improvements and measure the outcomes. By repeating this process of continual improvement, many small gains will eventually add up to significant, measurable advances in productivity. Like the UK as a whole, field service companies need to invest in the tools, technologies and skills that will enable leaders to put the process of continual improvement in place.
Field Service Analytics
In field service, we believe that improving productivity starts with investment in data and analytics. Analyst firm Gartner says “Data and analytics are taking centre stage as the single most powerful catalyst for change in the enterprise”. Customers who are using our flagship product, Cognito iQ OPM* Analytics have been able to improve productivity by as much as 30% in an 18 month period. Our digital guide to flawless field service shows how you too can use analytics to strive for perfect productivity, and make a significant different to your business.