Skills Crisis in the UK Digital Economy

The UK has the opportunity to develop the infrastructure and solutions to keep it at the forefront of the worldwide drive towards the digital economy. To achieve this the skills gap needs to be addressed.

Key Areas and the Skills Gaps:

Data Analytics
Data Science and Artificial Intelligence
Digital Exclusion
Education and Training across all age ranges
Cyber Security
Data Security
Gender Imbalance
Women in Technology
ICT and Digital Business Technologies


Emerging Technologies 2017 – 2020:

Business Technologies Market Value ($)
Internet of Things (asset communication) 7.3 tn
Wearables (embedded technology) 70 bn
Big Data (Analytics and intelligence) 32.4 bn
Wireless 5G (increased communications functionality)
Robotics (in all areas of business) 29 bn
Automated vehicles 28 bn
Advanced Manufacturing 49.5 bn


Development Opportunities for Business (Going Digital):

  • Find new ways to enhance the customer journey.
Identify new ways to use the emerging technologies and planning for changes that may disrupt existing ways of doing things.
Gain (365*24*7, low cost, reputable) access to development opportunities that address the skills gaps within your business.

Scanning The Business Environment

Staying Competitive

Businesses do not exist in a vacuum but exist in an environment that provides resources (i.e. people, customers, products, services, national economy). The business environment is changing all the time and there are several factors that affect and cause these changes which include costs of products and services, demographics of the workforce, competitors alongside key drivers economic, government and legal influences. If you want to generate ideas to help your business stay ahead of the game, below are some simple models that can be used to scan the external business environment with purpose.

Businesswoman standing on a ladder looking through binoculars --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Informed Decision Making (Analysis models)

  • Reducing internal costs

The SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis is an extremely useful and versatile model for understanding the business.

  • Improving customer satisfaction

STEP (Social/Cultural, Technological, Economic, Political/Regulatory) analysis can be useful for understanding external interrelationships and the forces/issues affecting customers.

  • Improving profit margins/bottom line

PEST (Political Economic, Social, Technological) analysis is a useful model for understanding market growth or decline, and as such the position, potential and direction for a business.

  • Strategic positioning

Porters Five Forces (New entrants, Substitute products/services, Customers/buyers, Suppliers, Industry rivalry) model is useful for understanding or making an evaluation of the business’s position in a market.

  • Future proofing

STEEPV (Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental, Political, Values) analyses are future-oriented, and consider possible future factors of change.

Generating Ideas from the Models.

  1. Decide the topic of interest then List headings from the relevant analysis model.
  2. Using multiple sources research current topics, information, references that fit with the headings.
  3. When the research has been exhausted, review the model and make adjustments to the entries.
  4. Glean insights and look for dependencies from the entries.
  5. Identify actions from the insights and dependencies that address the topic of interest.

Why SMEs Need To Change

Why Change ?

Disruptions in technology, changes in market conditions, more flexible and agile product/service delivery models, and world’s economic trends are forcing businesses to either reinvent themselves to succeed or fade away.

Major considerations that usually revolve around any transformation process studies suggest, are that business owners are always sensitive to two key factors, Staying in business and Remaining profitable.

Nordic countries are reaping the benefits of new ways of working as has been seen in the television series screened during July 2015 on channel 4 about theLEGO group who challenge conventional business models and are transforming their business.


The Benefits of Business Transformation

Business transformation must add VALUE to the business and this is achieved by improving the longevity of the business. In the digital economy businesses must manage three key elements “people, process, and technology “ even more effectively. Business Transformation seeks to create improved capabilities for the business by aligning these elements with radically changed business visions and strategies, operational processes, working patterns and cultures, information and how it is used, to meet long term objectives i.e. the products or services that will make the business more competitive.

Competitiveness manifests itself through one or more improved capabilities:

  1. Enable the business to harness collaboration and higher levels of ownership to spur innovation, enhance growth, and drive dramatic improvements in productivity that increase revenues, reduce time to market and lead to better and faster development of products and services.
  2. Provide customers with radically improved products and service standards increasing their levels of satisfaction, loyalty and faith in the business.
  3. Reduce costs and improve processes, adapt faster, develop greater flexibility/agility resulting in a slimmer fitter business ready for up and coming opportunities and challenges both foreseen and unexpected.

MSDUK Supplier Diversity Day @ The King Power Stadium

The Conference.

The premier business conference for Ethnic Minority businesses was held at the home of Leicester City FC, The King Power stadium, where we mingled with Senior Managers and Directors/CEOs from major corporate organisations including KPMG, Delphi, Enterprise Rent a Car, Cummins, Crown Commercial Service, Johnson and Johnson, IBM, Accenture and many more. The day was filled with useful discussions, hints and tips from successfully bidding for public and private sector contracts to breaking into britain’s growing multi-cultural, multi-ethnic market.

MSDUK blog image

Conference Areas.

Main Conference, Supplier Roundtables, Exhibition, Buyers Zone.

Keynote Speakers during panel discussions.

  • Mayank Shah opened the conference.
  • Arnab Dutt and Edward Green on bidding for public and private sector contracts.
  • Saad Saraf, Manish Tiwari and Anas Kasak on breaking into multi-cultural and ethnic markets.
  • Byron Dixon, Sukhi Ghuman and Ian Harrison on navigating business networks to achieve growth.

Supplier Roundtables.

We attended two insightful and engaging round table discussions. Hiten Bhatt discussed the importance of taking time out and personal development and Ragesh Sejpal spoke about alternative business financing models for SMEs.

Closing Remarks.

  • The business landscape in the UK is made up of 99.9% SMEs.
  • Manage the shop window.
  • Government targets indicate many more opportunities for SME contracts.
  • Importance of understanding how your USP translates into a Value Proposition.
  • Become export savvy and use new schemes for SMEs like the package for first time exporters.

The Common Mistakes Made By SMEs When Investing In New Technology By Steve Tuitt

Using the right technology is critical to the success of any business.

However, for the majority of business owners, one of the biggest concerns is the use of technology in the workplace. This includes what technology is needed and when is the right time to invest.

This problem gets bigger especially when you have to juggle this dilemma with trying to run your business which often leads to making the wrong choices. The right technology can not only improve productivity but also increase profits as well.

The wrong technology investment that doesn’t meet your needs can lead to a costly hit to your bottom line.

Here are some common mistakes that many businesses make when investing in technology

  • Business technologies bought and not fit for purpose
  • Technology Investments made without trying out scenarios
  • Technology Investments that have been financially damaging
  • Transitioning from existing to new or greener technologies
  • Improving the way we reuse, reduce, recycle, replace business technologies
  • Blindly following the upgrade culture

Every business, no matter the size, needs to have in place a number or portfolio of technologies to be able to operate and deliver either products or services and the number and types of these technologies are growing.

This can lead to a broad spectrum of technologies ranging from e-economy technologies like mobile phone apps to utility type technologies such as the different kinds of electricity supply now available.

Collectively, these technologies can add up to significant amounts and hence pose a significant financial and operational risk as this is one of the high spend areas for many businesses. Additionally, this cost grows year on year.

The key question is how many businesses track and monitor the collective impact these technologies have on the business?

Asset management solutions have been available for many years that enable businesses to record, track and monitor assets but they tend to focus on specific areas such as ICT equipment, products/widgets and similar items.

This is the traditional silo approach, following the general feeling is that it is not possible or it is a waste of resources to bring all of the relevant assets (portfolio of technologies) together and deal with them in a whole/holistic way.

For many operations managers and those in charge with buying technology, this exercise is too complex and the cost does not justify the effort and expense.

Return on investment (ROI) and total cost of ownership (TCO) are the traditional ways of measuring the value of technology in business. However, our experience of working with businesses and organisations has led us to advise on using another value proposition that is just as important and this is how well the technology has been used.

Over the years, we have seen many cases where the better technology has not gained traction in the market because customers would not accept it unlike a lower quality competitor who is making significant gains such as the VHS and BetaMax (see below for case study) war.

With this in mind, SBT Consulting has now created a solution to this dilemma. We have developed a working model to demonstrate our concept of “Technology Profiling” that provides a solution to the points raised and illustrates how for little cost, to take a more holistic approach [1]to managing technology within your business.

The link is below. Why not have a play and disrupt your thinking?

How do you measure your use of technology? We would love to hear what modelling you are using to track your technology expenditure. Please leave a comment below.

Furthermore, for any questions or queries regarding technology profiling and how to use it in your business, please drop us an email

VHS Vs BETAMAX – The Videotape Wars.

This was a fierce battle between two rival video formats and multi-nationals to take a significant share of the then very lucrative video tape market and shows the power of the utilisation of a new technology product by consumers over a product of superior quality.

  • SONY created BETAMAX
  • JVC created VHS

BetaMax was, in theory, a superior recording format over VHS due to resolution (250 lines vs. 240 lines), slightly superior sound, and a more stable image; BetaMax recorders were also of higher quality construction but cost a lot more than VHS machines.

The main determining factors between BetaMax and VHS were the cost of the recorders, recording time, availability and compatibility with other video machines for sharing.

What Sony did not take into account was what consumers wanted, what they will use, when and where they want to use it (utilisation). While BetaMax was believed to be the superior format consumers wanted an affordable, available video recorder.

Then came DVD format and the rest, as they say, is history.


Reducing Costs But Gaining Growth

Reducing costs and maintaining the competitiveness of the business is a major challenge and may require changes to the business model. To stay ahead of the curve we offer below some points to areas where you can start looking for efficiencies.

  • Increase use of back office systems that ease administration – Reduce paper.
  • Using technology to reduce business costs i.e. green power saving technologies.
  • Be open minded when looking at innovative business models that can/are being used across industries and sectors.
  • The open source software market for PC and Cloud based solutions is maturing and there are a lot of good solutions available.
  • Looking for business support, advice and mentoring that is available by contacting local enterprise partnerships (LEPs).
  • There are efforts being made by the UK government to encourage more SMEs to apply for government contracts. These government initiatives may include not only advice but also training.
  • Looking for technology based sources of raising and managing finance like crowd funding.


Delivering Solutions to business objectives:

We have developed solutions for customers to help reduce their operating costs. The development of business cases, implementation plans and undertaking service reviews were delivered on time, to budget and quality. Read our case studies illustrating how we can help.

  • Introducing Cashless Catering in schools to reduce costs.
  • Social Services, Emergency Duty Team service review to achieve value for money.

Improving Customer Satisfaction In 2015

Improving customer satisfaction may involve realigning the business model to become more customer centric. Below we offer some points for consideration.

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  • Monitoring Customer Complaints is a key component of managing customer service. A report by McKinsey’s highlights that “maximizing satisfaction with customer journeys has the potential not only to increase customer satisfaction by 20 percent but also to lift revenue by up to 15 percent while lowering the cost of serving customers by as much as 20 percent.
  • Analysing and understanding the customer journey is key to streamlining the business processes for efficiencies in the journey. Using models such as the government journey mapping approach helps to identify where improvements can be made.
  • If the business is seeking to increase the workforce government and commercial schemes like Apprenticeships, Universities are providing opportunities for businesses to gain the services of Under grads alongside the government push to encourage more Volunteers/Placements.
  • Use of online learning networks or forums for addressing skills shortages, staff training and retention can be supported and more closely linked to workmodels and structures with the use of free online learning systems like ALISON, OU OpenLearn.


Delivering Solutions to business objectives:                                                     

We have supported customers to address business issues around improving the learning and development process for staff, streamlining three processes into one process for customers to raise complaints and making a process more efficient for messages to reach the right destination when processing deceased notifications. See our case studies of how we successfully delivered these solutions for our customers.

  • L&OD Commissioning & Business Process: Process mapping and analysis
  • Customer Complaints: Align complaints processes
  • Deceased (Out of Hours) Notifications: Process Analysis