The government and UK computer firms must form a task force to push IT into UK industry before it falls dangerously behind its rivals in the technology race, the CBI conference was warned last week.
John Golding, UK head of Hewlett Packard, delivered his warning at the CBI conference's first IT forum.
The awareness such a group could raise is essential to maintain competitive edge, he claimed. Cutting edge IT will enable companies to maximise customer service and information processing, which will be essential to survive against increased competition from North America, Europe and the newly industrialised powers of South East Asia.
'Information is power. Information is the competitive edge. Manage it,' was Golding's message to the assembled UK captains of industry.
He cited the Technology Foresight Panel, the research group chaired by HP's development scientist Dr John Taylor, as a role model.
'Computing, communications and connectivity ... are the critical elements in the ability of business to survive and maintain wealth creation into the 21st century,' he said.
UK industry should take advantage of the Internet to access new markets and intranets to enhance communication within the firm, Golding said.
'Competitiveness is all a matter of getting to the future first,' he added.
He cited as examples of optimum use of modern technology the Federal Express Point, Click and Ship programme; Security First National Bank's virtual banking, which enables 12 employees to service 20,000 customers; and Sainsbury's Electric Shop. These schemes allow customers to order parcels, bank and shop from the comfort of their own home.
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