In the second quarter of this year, the UK tech sector recorded its seventh year of continuous business activity expansion, recording 53.0 on the KPMG UK Tech Monitor Index, with 50.0 representing ‘no change’. Tech companies also enjoyed a modest increase in sales volume. That’s the good news. On the downside, this is the second weakest rate of UK tech sector growth for three and a half years and a decline from the 54.4 rating in Q1. And, while the tech sector did outperform other sectors of the economy, KPMG reports that the rise in new orders received by tech firms was among the weakest on record since 2015. No prizes for identifying the causes of softer demand, with Brexit uncertainty, worries about the global economic outlook and the US-China trade war all contributing to greater risk aversion and cuts to corporate spending.
Given such uncertainty, it is understandable that businesses are cautious about spending plans. However, we mustn’t forget that many still are investing in IT as they attempt to boost productivity, cut costs and deliver a better customer experience. The need to stay ahead of (or at least keep up with) competitors will continue to drive investment in technology, supported by a healthy pipeline of new product innovation, from AI and machine learning to 5G and ultrafast broadband.
For smaller firms with limited budgets, prioritising investment is a difficult balancing act, especially when all the talk is of digital transformation. In his opinion piece on page 29, Dieter Weisshaar, CEO of EASY SOFTWARE, suggests that many are frightened by the scale of change implied by this term, adding that they shouldn’t be, as change tends to happen in small increments. Throughout this issue, you will find many examples of relatively small (and economical) changes that your business can make to improve efficiency and/or save money, including Konica Minolta’s Workplace Hub (page 14), Droplet Computing’s application container technology (on page 16), Wrike’s collaborative work management solution (page 21) and, best value of all, Chris Griffith’s advice to leave space in your calendar ‘to think, reflect and daydream’ (page 30).
James Goulding, Editor