Retail leaders have 'outdated' attitudes towards technology

Outdated attitudes towards technology amongst senior UK retail business leaders risk jeopardising future business survival, new research has found.

The Connected Enterprise report - produced by digital transformation specialist Sigma Dynamics and futurist Tom Cheesewright - reveals that more than half (51 per cent) of retail industry C-suite executives, directors and senior managers are “sceptical” about the benefits of implementing new business technology.

The report questioned 250 business leaders across different industries about their attitudes to technology and digital transformation.

It found that 60 per cent of those in retail are “doubtful” that technology improves efficiency, 70 per cent are “cynical” about its ability to improve productivity, and 87 per cent “question” its positive impact on customer relationships.

Around a fifth (19 per cent) think technology can “cause problems” if not implemented carefully, while 17 per cent believe the “cost often outweighs the benefits”, and 6 per cent “worry” it can create an “unnecessary burden” on employees.

Colin Crow, managing director of Sigma Dynamics, said: “From these statistics we can infer that there are many retail leaders that have been burned by previous digital transformation efforts.

“It is unfortunately quite common for businesses to choose the wrong technologies, or roll them out without enough support for employees, which can be very costly mistakes.”

He added: “As the twin threats of Brexit and COVID-19 have shown us the business landscape can change with incredible speed, and organisations must be agile and open-minded in order to cope with the impact of these and other challenges.

“It will soon become almost impossible for retailers to thrive without the help of strategically planned and implemented technological innovations.”

Futurist Cheesewright said: “COVID-19 catalysed investment in technology but that investment was often overdue. If we are to avoid playing catch-up when the next challenge hits - or the next opportunity appears - then we should be thinking now about what changes to our technology, processes, culture and models can best prepare us.”

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