2020: Let's Get Productive

Date: Monday, January 13, 2020

The UK statistics society has given the UK productivity growth  of 0.3% in the 2010’s the accolade of “statistic of the decade”. By comparison spending on the NHS rose by 1.5% per year over the decade and most people weren’t happy with that, over time it has grown by 3.7% per year. This one set of statistic illustrates that the current productivity growth in the UK is not going to meet our collective aspirations. 

At Village we are going to do (a little bit) about that this year and this decade. 

Like lots of technology geeks I get very excited about new technology, flying cars, watches that make tea, fridges that tell you jokes. But are these the things we really need? The thing we need, here in the UK at least, is productivity. At best the average wealth in the country over time can only be the average productivity. However, you slice it, dice it, share it out, borrow it, pay it back it or steal it, wealth is all about productivity. The more cornflakes you can make per man hour the more cornflakes you can eat or swap for romantic weekends in Paris or new hips etc. 

Not that wealth is everything, but the things that we moan about as a nation and seek to fund through taxes, more doctors, more teachers, more nurses, more police all involve carving off a bit of the wealth and using it to fund these things. Most of these people cost more than the median productivity per working person. You can only get more by becoming more productive as a society. 

The productivity we are helping with is not about building drones that deliver pizzas. But this year we expect to help companies track their equipment better with less admin, i.e. be more productive, help a factory to get auto guided vehicles up and running to make their product more affordable and hence the staff be more productive, help a company develop its employee security checking and sign up service so they can deliver more with the same team, i.e. be more productive. We expect to produce applications that help these things to happen, business intelligence that helps managers deploy their people efficiently  and we expect to use machine learning to help client optimise their resource usage, help retailers monitor whether the stuff they have on the shelves is selling and help manufacturers remotely monitor the performance of their products worldwide 

Of course this on the surface is not as exciting as that new music app, that talking fridge, the flying car or the pizza drone but it is the bread and butter, salt of the earth sort of thing our clients are trying to achieve, with some help from us. 

Of course, productivity starts at home. Village and our collaborators need to get more productive producing software. All sorts of bloggers and experts out there have lamented how software development seems to get less productive not more as the complexity of the platforms and technologies seems to grow particularly for us as the browser tooling systems mature. We are mindful of this, and often scratch out head, there is no point engineering software solutions our clients can’t afford. 

This is always an occupation for the senior team here, how can we do things better, the answer will be in process, personnel development and tooling. We will continue to work on how we project manage and develop projects, we will continue to enhance our teams skill set so we are the best at what we do and we will continue to look to buy in tools to work with and leading components to give our solutions the best bang for the buck we can. Although we have tooling, tech, goodwill, commercial know how etc. Our factory floor is our developers and data scientists, becoming better is key and for those of us who are developers satisfying too. 

My colleague Lance was kind enough to have an office Mug printed for me with a Village Logo, my name and my mantra ‘formidable software engineers powering productivity’. This year I’m thinking how to make this truer than ever. 

Johnny Read

Johnny is a businessman in touch with his inner geek. He seeks to bring together his understanding of business and technology to put solutions together. He particularly works in the Business Intelligence and Enterprise Systems parts of the business, and has been with Village over 20 years. As well as being a partner in the business he is a lecturer at Liverpool Business School.

Read more posts by Johnny Read