John Golding, UK chief of Hewlett Packard, was the prophet of doom at a recent CBI conference on the information society. He warned that UK industry would fall irretrievably behind if it did not invest more heavily in IT, and called on industry leaders and the government to raise awareness of the issue.
?Information is power. Information is the competitive edge. Manage it,? was Golding's call to the UK's captains of industry. In the first IT forum in the history of the CBI conference, he told delegates that it was time they joined with government to form a task force, to promote awareness and adoption of IT in UK industry. He cited the Technology Foresight Panel, the research group chaired by HP's development scientist Dr John Taylor, as a role model.
The awareness such a group could raise is essential to maintain competitive edge, he claimed. Cutting edge IT will enable companies to maximise customer service and information collection and processing, which will be essential to survive against increased competition from north America, Europe and the newly industrialised powers of south east Asia.
?Computing, communications and connectivity.... are the critical elements in the ability of business to survive and maintain wealth creation into the twenty first century,? he said.
Particularly critical is that UK industry should take advantage of modern communications - the Internet to access new markets and Intranets to enhance communication within the firm. ?Competitiveness is all a matter of getting to the future first,? he added.
Golding cited examples of optimum use of modern technology: Federal Express? ?Point, Click and Ship? programme; Security First National Bank?s virtual banking, which enables 12 employees to service 20,000 customers; Sainsbury?s Electric Shop. These strides in technology allow customers to order delivery of parcels, conduct banking affairs and shop from the comfort of their own home. Another role model is the Avon Internet Business Park, which allows Internet access to businesses and schools that would otherwise be unable to afford it.
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