Barriers to uptake of the digital technology by end users

Barriers to uptake of the digital technology by end users

Digital technologies are transforming our world, disrupting business operations and driving new value propositions. Whether known as Industry 4.0, the Industrial Internet of Things or Smart Manufacturing, the future of manufacturing is already being shaped by this revolution. With Germany investing 6.6 times more in automation then UK, keeping the UK moving in this competitive landscape is vital.

According to Industrial Digitisation Review commissioned by the government, over 10 years Industrial Digitisation could boost UK manufacturing by £455 billion, increase 3% sector growth year on year and create 175,000 net jobs. On top of that is is predicted to reduce CO2 emissions by 4.5%. 

It is clear that UK has a lot to gain but so do the individual businesses. 77% of surveyed businesses claim they will increase their investment in digital technology over the next 3 year. Three quarters of respondents named 'cost reduction' as a key driver for change and half is looking for growth and  new revenue streams. If the businesses are acknowledging the value of Industrial Internet of Things, why the uptake is not higher?

The research found that only half of the respondents had 'good' or 'expert' knowledge of digital technologies and less than 10% believe they have sufficient skills in place to take advantage of the IIoT. Businesses face a skills shortage, particularly in digital engineering capabilities, and are hindered by a fragmented skills system and a lack of systematic engagement between education and industry.

Culture and attitude have also significant impact on the digital technology adoption. SMEs often have difficulties in implementing organisational change. They usually have limited resources, including a shortage of skilled personnel. This scarcity of technical skills can often result in a lack of awareness about the productive potential of available technologies. A recent study on the impact of digital change on skills and employment in Germany suggests that the “ability to plan and organise, to act autonomously”, combined with company-specific and occupation-specific working experience, are crucial for the successful digital transformation of businesses. 

Another one of the identified causes for slow adoption is an ineffective and confused landscape of business support, with no clear route to access help and ambiguity about what ‘good’ looks like. There is an uncertainty when it comes to trust in available technology, advise and innovation models.  SMEs, in particular, perceive significant barriers to adoption, such as risks around cybersecurity, and a lack of common standards allowing different technologies to connect. Companies open to risk, potential failures and collaborations are most likely to be the earlier adopters of the new technology. 


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