European business leaders worry most about losing competitive edge – study

6 Mar 2013

European business leaders are more concerned about keeping up with the pace of technology-led change than those in Asia and North America, a new study about the impact of technology on human creativity and intuition suggests.

When questioned about the impacts of technology-led change, global business leaders are positive about its effect on creativity and innovation and concerned about keeping up with the pace of change.

Forty-five per cent of 432 European business leaders surveyed said they were worried about not being able to keep up with technology and losing competitive edge, compared with 35pc in Asia and 37pc in North America, reveals the study titled Humans and Machines, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Ricoh. 

When asked to rank their top technology challenges, business leaders placed ‘systems not connected to each other’ first, followed closely by ‘technology is evolving more quickly than the internal processes that support it’. 

European business leaders are most impacted by disconnected systems (46pc) compared to 39pc in Asia and 34pc in North America.

“European businesses leaders face a challenging time – in addition to technology-led change they must manage complex regulations and grow their businesses in a competitive and mature landscape,” said Carsten Bruhn, executive vice-president, Ricoh Europe. 

“In addition, they are focused upon recovering from the global economic crisis, where the viability of the euro is being questioned. While this may attribute to their increased concern about remaining competitive, what is important is to determine what can be done to help drive growth and business agility into the future.”

Review of work methods

The study exposes the need for European organisations to review the way they work and prepare to transform their traditional way of doing things, Bruhn added.

“Through better integration of their systems and more streamlined business processes that connect their people and their technology they can improve employee knowledge sharing, be more responsive to client needs and ensure an agile business infrastructure that is ready to meet the needs of the future.”

There are some areas where Europeans are more confident compared to their global counterparts, however. Sixty-five per cent of European business leaders believe technology has helped drive open debate and discussion within their organisations, compared to 57pc in Asia. 

Europeans are also more confident about the role of technology in terms of improving productivity: 72pc said they believe this was the case, compared to 59pc in North America and 68pc in Asia. 

Business leader image via Shutterstock

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic