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Technology has boosted office productivity fivefold since 1970s

Matthew Finnegan | Oct. 23, 2013
Centre for Economic and Business Research in UK puts a figure on productivity gains since mainframe era

Rapid adoption of technology in the workplace has transformed the way people work and led to significant gains in productivity, according to a Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr) report.

From 1970s mainframes through to personal computers and email in the 1990s and the more recent advent of mobile and cloud computing, information communication technology has changed dramatically in the past four decades.

Using data from the Office of National Statistics and EU KLEMS, the Cebr report, commissioned by o2 Business, showed that the labour productivity of workers has grown by 84 percent overall since the 1970s, while productivity directly related to ICT have grown by 480 percent.

Part of the reason for the increase in the impact of technology has been the cost, and therefore availability, of computing and communications devices. In 1980 a gigabyte of hard disk space would have cost £120,000 in today's money, while the capacity can now be bought for just 5p.

Cebr believes that continued advances in technology on offices will also result in further growth of 22 percent up to 2020. The research organisation devised an Individual Productivity Index that linked workforce productivity per hour with IT investment. Using the Index, the Cebr report predicts that ICT-related productivity will equal to £3.87 for every hour worked in 2020, or 12.4 percent of total productivity per hour.

"Productivity in the office has increased dramatically and a big contributor to that has been technology," said senior economist at Cebr, Colm Sheehy at the o2 Business Show Live event in London. "We see a huge trend in the growth in the contribution of ICT capital to the productivity of office workers, especially since the 1990s."

He said that the advent of faster broadband and mobile connectivity, along with the boom in tablet and smartphone devices will drive further improvements in productivity by enabling mobile and remote working.

"Tablet computers are the next step in this evolution. This means going mobile and being able to take your office mobile, and be as productive on the go as are you are in the office. By investing in these technologies in the future we can continue to advance productivity, which means businesses can increase revenues and grow."


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