Where in the world are leaders most familiar with workplace technology? Which countries are leading the way on investment? And where have technologies like Artificial Intelligence and blockchain been the most implemented?
That’s what our recent study, ‘Are You Missing The Tech Train?’, set out to uncover. After collecting information from more than 600 C-suite executives based in China, France, Germany, India, the UK and the US, two countries stood out.
China and India topped the leader boards for familiarity, investment and implementation when it comes to the following five key office technologies: Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain, Electronic Resource Planning (ERP), Internet of Things (IoT) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
Benchmarking and beyond
In China, 77% of respondents said they were familiar with all five technologies - meaning they were comfortable discussing them with co-workers. It similarly ranked highest for implementation: 87% of leaders there said all five technologies were at the benchmarking stage in their organisations.
We spoke to Shi Wenxian, Chief Partner of Mazars ZSZH and Member of Mazars Group Executive Board to find out what lies behind China’s strong performance.
Why do you think China tops the leader board on familiarity for these five technologies?
“I think part of the answer lies in country-specific ways of learning and working. There is a real emphasis in China on learning maths, physics and chemistry at an early age. In fact, we say that if you learn those three then you can go anywhere. That foundation has meant people who enter the modern Chinese workforce can quickly become familiar with these technologies.
“A second reason is the promotion of the link between technology and China’s economic and social development. Government and businesses alike view China’s future wrapped up in technological innovation – and so the latter sits high on the C-suite’s priority list.”
What could the rest of the world learn from China?
“Respect and promote science and innovation. Embrace technology and make the effort to be good at using it. People feel familiar with technology when they’ve had a chance to see it in action – so governments and businesses need to make it accessible and easy-to-use: that’s why China’s wireless payment technology, for example, has taken off so successfully.”
India and investment
India came in a close second to China for implementation – with 83% of leaders there saying they were at the ‘benchmarking stage.’
And it topped the leader board for plans to increase investment. Some 26% of respondents there said they plan on boosting financial backing by more than 50% – compared to just 15% of respondents overall planning to boost backing to the same extent.
Mazars India Partner Ravindra Rao attributes India’s strong performance to demographic change and online risks.
What is behind India’s investment appetite?
“There is a time when every market matures and those operating within it realise they can’t keep doing things as they used to. India is at that stage: more and more leaders are looking for ways to grow and move with the times. They are also operating in a country with a booming start-up ecosystem, which is tech-driven and dedicated to new ways of thinking and working.”
Why does India plan on investing more than other countries?
“Younger professionals in India are increasingly taking leadership roles and know they need to implement technology to catch up and keep up with international competition. They are also keenly aware of risks like cybercrime so are using technology to keep their organisations safe and their customers satisfied.”
Getting personal with tech
Leaders in both countries are evidently aware of what these technologies can do for them. In fact, more than 90% of respondents in India and China expect these technologies to have an impact on how their organisations operate. To see how the other countries fared, you can read the full report here or the Executive Summary here.
But where should leaders start if they’re not getting up close and personal with technology? And what can they do to get others on board with tech investment?
Caroline Couesnon, Partner, CFO and CIO Transformation at Mazars urges leaders to focus on the ROI and work in teams. “Put figures against the potential waiting to be unlocked by the technology and get people with different expertise involved.”
She adds, “Don’t make it about yourself. Present the ROI of the technology to the business and do that by presenting the cost case as well as the business case.”
The future being shaped today
Our survey found that India and China plan to increase investment in these five key workplace technologies more than any other country featured. That finding raises the prospect of the two countries pulling even further ahead of the France, Germany, the UK and US over the months and years to come. In fact, China now produces twice as many graduates a year as the US – with a high concentration being engineers.
As this generation enters the workforce around the world, leaders need to know how they can harness their talents if they want their organisations to advance technologically.
To find out more about China and India’s impressive performance, and how France, Germany, the UK and the US fared – you can download ‘Are You Missing The Tech Train?’ below.