Fifty years ago, a world where the majority of business transactions take place online would have been unimaginable. Now, the internet is part of every core function, from marketing and sales to digital file transfers and internal communications via email.
Overall, there’s no doubt that technological advancements have transformed how businesses run on a day-to-day basis. Typically, a Human Resource Manager role involved tasks like payroll calculations, staff scheduling, and wage payouts, which were entirely reliant on full-time staff working within your company. Now, the responsibility for admin-heavy work has been reassigned to CRM systems, intricately designed software, and globally famous apps like Square.
Yet, in a world that already feels so advanced, our industry can go even further. With UK tech funding at an all-time high, Research & Design departments are discovering ground-breaking new technologies - with huge progressions seen in self-driving vehicles, AI, and SaaS this last year alone. And rapidly advancing technology developments meaning Cyber Security is becoming more more and more critical.
Manchester has been named as the fastest growing tech city in Europe by a new Tech Nation report, which says investment in the city grew 277% in the space of one year, and UK-wide growth continues across sub-sectors. One of the reasons I personally chose to work in Manchester in the first place is the tech scene and it even outstrips London in certain metrics!
It makes you wonder: why do businesses feel this drive to continuously chase to be ahead? R&D is famously costly, but even technology companies with consistent sales are looking to stay ahead of the game. Why? Because of continuous improvement.
What is Continuous Improvement?
Whilst the industry can definitely look back and be proud of its achievements over the last century, continuous improvement is the idea that we’ve not come far enough. That we’ll never have come far enough. CI suggests there is always more growth to be made, including advancements in innovation, making new discoveries, and developing how we can maximise business efficiency. Continuous Improvement drives our industry to be more than it already is, improving products, services, and even processes.
Examples of Continuous Improvement in Cyber & Technology
Cyber Security and SASE
In general, the cyber-security industry is facing rapid advancements as a result of increased malware attacks across the world. Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) has changed the face of data protection since its invention in 2019, combining “wide area networking with network security functions like secure web gateway (SWG), cloud access security broker (CASB), firewall as a service (FWaaS) and zero-trust network access (ZTNA) to support the dynamic secure access needs of businesses.” (Source: CRN).
Google’s Core Web Vitals
In June, Google launched a massive algorithm update that changed the way their search engine calculated results. They decreed that for business websites to rank, they must have a high loading speed (LCP), high responsivity to interactions (FID), and be more stable and secure than ever before (CLS). Their algorithm now scans sites according to these 3 new metrics - driving businesses across the world to improve their websites, and, therefore, user experiences on Google globally.
5G Replacing Perfectly Functioning 4G
In 2019, 5G was introduced to mobile services. As of 2021, 8% of phones in the UK had 5G service. While the pick-up is slow, there’s no doubt that 5G was a huge innovation in our market, bringing the potential for the internet to transfer data 10 times faster than before. The use of smaller wavelengths at higher frequencies offers lower latency at better bandwidths and was a life-changing development that has contributed to our increasing Internet of Things.
The Benefits of Continuous Improvement on Tech Functions
As with any automated technology, AI was designed to decrease the risk of human error and assist in the “niggly tasks that no one likes.”
Already, the U.S. has been showing huge leaps in innovation, with viral videos circulating the internet where mini-robots deliver pizza right to customer’s doors. More and more businesses have been adopting SaaS in order to make business management ten times easier. Order processing, stock management, and online tracking are all huge technology functions that are now used in businesses across the world every single day.
Although the UK is seen as a tech hub globally, it seems we’re a little more reluctant to embrace some of the trends that are driven by our industry’s continuous improvement.
However, with global brands like Google and Microsoft leading the charge, local UK tech businesses need to keep up to speed and embrace the very technologies we’re working on in our own day-to-day lives.
No longer do business owners have to sit with their heads in their hands near the end of the month, famously complicated tasks like payroll and even bookkeeping can now take place on easy-to-use apps that do most of the work for you.
Forward Role’s Predictions for Continuous Improvement in Technology
Alongside product and service technology advancements, the increasing availability of software has allowed companies to automate all areas of business function behind the scenes. Where 48% of businesses were using automation technology in some form in 2019, this rose by an unprecedented amount to 73% by 2020. As our market continues to evolve (with 20,000 tech start-ups launched last year in the UK alone) there’s an increasing pressure for technology and cyber Security businesses to make new discoveries that help them gain competitivity in the market.
Currently, trends point to one huge area of continuous improvement: Robotic Process Automation and the potential for AI to replace human employees.
How To Implement Continuous Improvement
If you run a tech company, implementing continuous improvement comes down to relinquishing a level of control. At a point in every business owner’s life, there comes a time to let go of tasks that can easily be automated, such as appointment scheduling and out-of-office emails. Although the UK technology industry has come a long way, there’s still a clear mental block holding us back. To help implement continuous improvement in our industry, we suggest:
A. Working with new employees who are able to be a driving force for change in your business.
B. Being open to internal R&D innovations, alongside improving products and services that your business offers.
C. Always asking yourself: how can I improve my business?