UK Manufacturing – is Intention Disconnected from Action?

I was reading a recent publication from NatWest entitled Future Fit, Trailblazing in the Fourth Industrial Revolutionwhich covers a variety of issues that are arising during this time of unprecedented speed of change. These issues include leadership, collaboration, support and investment.

One of the main conclusions drawn, is that whilst manufacturers in the UK have very good intentions of dealing with Industry 4.0 - identifying the need to invest, innovate and prepare for the future to enable them to manage the risks and generate the rewards that the conditions will bring – despite having identified these needs, UK Manufacturers are not then aligning their actions to allow this to happen.  Instead, they continue to spend more time working in their business than on it. This then results in management not investing sufficient resource towards making their businesses ready to embrace the many opportunities presented by Industry 4.0.

With recent growth in the UK manufacturing sector being driven predominantly by increased labour as opposed to investment and innovation, these findings are hardly a great surprise.

The suggestion is that UK manufacturing leaders need to put innovation at the top of the agenda, not only in order to maximize their opportunities, but also to guard against the risk presented by a lack of innovation. According to the NatWest report, only 15% of companies put innovation at the top of the agenda, while 54% say a lack of innovation is a significant challenge that is dampening their ability to succeed.

This raises a number of questions:
  1. If innovation is a key priority, should it be raised up the order when measuring success?
  2. Is it the case that with success being measured by current financial results, that management focus their efforts toward getting these right rather than prioritising innovation?
  3. If innovation is to move to the top of the agenda and given equal prominence with current financial results, will this enable manufacturers to capitalise upon the opportunities, and ultimately be more successful?
So what can we do?

Armstrong Watson’s Strategic Business Advisory team help businesses to develop their strategic plans and can assist businesses to push innovation to the top of the agenda in a structured manner, challenging management to stay focussed on this.

As innovation is undertaken, our team can also help to identify and maximise the tax reliefs that are available to stimulate innovation and investment, be they Research and Development Tax Credits, Capital Allowances or other reliefs.

In short, if a business can innovate today, it will go some way toward future proofing it for tomorrow.

If you have a question for Jim or want to know how we can help you with your strategic business plans and push innovation to the top of the agenda, get in touch today.

Contact Jim

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