Cisco's UK boss Phil Smith has said investment in digital technology is the answer to the UK's slumping productivity levels, insisting that working smarter, not harder, is the answer.
In a LinkedIn post, Smith cited recently released figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which shows that in Q4, the UK's productivity, which is measured in output per hour, fell 1.2 per cent from the previous quarter, some 14 per cent below the data taken from before the economic downturn began.
Smith (pictured) blamed a variety of factors, including the skills shortage, availability of finance and infrastructure issues as a reason for the drop in productivity, but said investing in digital technology can improve that.
"Collectively, we've been working more hours in recent years; this can't go on forever though," he said. "Eventually, you run out of people and hours in the day and ultimately, hours worked is the denominator. If you work more hours, for the same value created, the productivity goes down. Working more hours is not the answer.
"Improving productivity is not a case of working harder. It is more complicated than that. We need to work smarter and create more with the same amount of input. That's what we call productivity growth. Addressing this UK productivity challenge is a particular area of interest for me and my team at Cisco UK. We believe that the adoption of correctly deployed digital solutions can drive the productivity of individuals, companies and the country as a whole."
Last summer, Cisco invested $1bn (£650m) in the UK economy, in addition to a previous $500m cash injection four years earlier. The money went on a range of things such as the British Innovation Gateway, which helps to nurture up-and-coming tech talent, and its Cisco Networking Academy, which is an education programme encouraging youngsters to study science, technology, engineering and maths.
Smith said that such investments prove Cisco is doing its bit to help digitise the economy.
"Through our engagements we have always focused on improving digital skills and we will continue to grow this in our skills and employment workstream," he said.
"At Cisco we believe that the UK economy has made great strides since the downturn in 2008 and if we can tackle the productivity puzzle through digitisation then we will all reap the huge benefits for our companies and our citizens."
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