The research comes three years after the UK government’s ‘stay at home’ mandate in 2020.
It surveyed over 1,200 public and private sector decision-makers across the UK. It found that rising costs due to inflation (23%) and energy costs (24% are causing the most concern in 2023, followed by the ongoing digital skills shortage (15%) and recruitment (10%).
Despite pressure on cash flow across many organisations, respondents were more likely to cite ‘increasing value of existing investments’ (37%) as the most important operational priority for their organisation currently, over cost optimisation (26%).
While businesses surveyed were keen to make the most of their existing tools, 72% of respondents believe their outdated tech is impacting their ability to operate efficiently. With growth being the number one priority for 36%, decision-makers are forced to balance the challenges of 2023 with their ambitions, Virgin said.
Almost a third (32 per cent) of decision-makers say the biggest hindrance to their efficiency is old software or hardware (18%) or incompatibility between systems or applications (14%).
Digital skills are a key hindrance to embracing hybrid working, the report found, with 18% of respondents saying employee resistance to tech or limited digital skills is holding back operational efficiency. 50% of leaders believe less than half of their employees are using unified communications and collaboration tools, like Teams and Zoom, to their full extent.
Nearly a quarter (24%) of professional services leaders still reported having limited remote work capabilities. 19% cited employee attraction and retention as their biggest internal challenge this year – empowering employees with skills and flexibility will be key to addressing this, Virgin believes.
Two-thirds (65%) of decision-makers noticed a need to demonstrate results faster when making a case for new investments in tech and connectivity in the last six months.
The stress to realise a return on investment quickly was the highest among respondents who said old tech is significantly hindering their ability to operate efficiently (79%). Despite being the most in need of new tech, these leaders appear to have more pressure to prove its value quickly.
The majority (78%) of respondents rely on their IT and telecom providers for consultancy on how to maximise the value of their old tech, leading organisations to put increased trust in partners. Three-quarters (75%) agree their IT and telecoms partners are rising to the economic challenges of 2023 to provide the consultancy their organisation needs to make smart tech investment choices.
“The last three years have seen the biggest change in the way we work since the Industrial Revolution, but many companies are being left behind,” said Jo Bertram, managing director, Business and Wholesale at Virgin Media O2.
“It would be easy to assume that most organisations have embraced new technology and digital transformation to support their workforce, however, that’s clearly not the case.
“With companies facing complex operational challenges and a tough macro-economic environment, the lessons learned from the pandemic should not be forgotten – it’s key businesses make smart tech investments, challenge partners to get the most out of their existing technology and give employees the tools they need to succeed.”