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Innovate to elevate: Can product design solve the UK's productivity paradox? (Guest blog from Exclaimer)

Blog posted by: Vicky Wills, Chief Technology Officer, Exclaimer, 22 April 2024.


With its extensive history of technological advancement, the UK is in a prime position to lead the charge towards increased productivity. In 2022, fast-growing UK tech ventures raised a staggering £24 billion, overshadowing both France and Germany. Yet the UK struggles to translate these advancements into tangible productivity gains, revealing stagnant productivity growth year on year.

The underlying issue is multifaceted, with several factors contributing to the disparity. Legacy systems, entrenched work practices, and low digital literacy in the workforce all play their part.

Priming your product for productivity

The SaaS industry has the potential to be not just a quantitative game-changer but a qualitative one, elevating the volume, efficiency and quality of output delivered. The question is not whether technology can bolster productivity but how it can be set up to do so effectively. And the answer? Putting the customer front and center.

This involves more than creating products with a wide-reaching impact. To boost productivity, we need to think about our products in a wider, connected context, so we can automate and improve workflows. This is where integrations become critical. After all, automation has improved jobs for 90% of knowledge workers and productivity for 66% of them.

Great user experience requires us to look beyond the functionality we provide and into the broader needs and activities of users, so that we can truly craft a product that feels seamless. When we remove the friction from our everyday tools, we unlock time and space for creativity and productivity.

In practical terms, this focus translates to the forefront of product design, implementation, and support. Our own experience in providing email signature management software is a good example of this. By honing in on areas of paramount concern to our audience— from time management to workflow optimization and enhanced communication— we’ve made tangible gains in enhancing the productivity of the teams we serve.

Invest in educating your customers

Investing in robust customer support, training, and marketing initiatives aren’t just niceties. They’re cornerstones of a strategy geared towards creating loyalty. To bring your users to a place where they can’t imagine their day without your product. Aside from being of business benefit – increasing customer advocacy and reducing churn – it also ensures that your solution is actively increasing the productivity of those who use it.

Customer support isn’t a novel concept, but it often remains an underused asset, especially in the context of productivity. By prioritizing the customer experience and continuously enhancing the utility of our product, we’ve seen direct correlations between customer satisfaction and productivity. It’s a lesson that extends beyond our own industry — the more your product adds value to the user's life, the more productive they become with it.

The wider need for digital literacy

New tools and platforms aren’t just assets to be deployed but skills to be mastered. This shift toward competency in handling digital tools is no longer a niche requirement but a mainstream necessity that impacts every corner of an organization.

Companies recognize this as a strategic imperative, understanding that a digitally literate workforce is a requirement to improve productivity and stay competitive. Analysis by Lloyds Bank suggests that digital literacy shortages among SMEs have created an £85bn productivity gap. Therefore, digital literacy has transitioned from an HR concern to a pivotal board-level discussion, with initiatives underway to equip employees with the skills to exploit technology to its fullest potential.

Redefining our approach

The pivot toward customer-centric innovation, coupled with a focused commitment to digital literacy, is not just a strategy for technology companies but a blueprint for progress throughout the UK and beyond. Redefining our approach to innovation and development requires a concerted effort across the board, from small innovative startups to legacy enterprises, and from the SaaS industry to the larger economy. Only then can we fully resolve this paradox and achieve the elevated productivity we’re capable of.


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