Business leaders respond to technology survey


Global business leaders are positive about the impacts of technology-led change on creativity and innovation, but are concerned about keeping up with the pace of change.

European business leaders are more concerned about keeping up with the pace of change than those in Asia and North America. Forty five percent of Europeans said they were worried about not being able to keep up with technology and losing competitive edge, compared with 35 percent in Asia and 37 percent in North America. The insights are from a new study called Humans and Machines, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Ricoh. The research investigates the impacts of technology upon human creativity and intuition.

When asked to rank their top technology challenges, business leaders placed ‘systems not connected to each other’ in the top spot, followed closely by the fact that ‘technology is evolving more quickly than the internal processes that support it’. European business leaders are most impacted by disconnected systems (46 percent) compared to 39 percent in Asia and 34 percent in North America.

“European businesses leaders face a challenging time—in addition to technology led change they must manage complex regulations and grow their businesses in acompetitive and mature landscape,” says Carsten Bruhn, executive vice president, Ricoh Europe. “In addition, they are focused upon recovering from the global economic crisis, where the viability of the euro is being questioned. While this may attribute to their increased concern about remaining competitive, what is important is to determine what can be done to help drive growth and business agility into the future.

“The study exposes the need for European organisations to review the way they work and prepare to transform their traditional way of doing things. Through better integration of their systems and more streamlined business processes that connect their people and their technology they can improve employee knowledge sharing, be more responsive to client needs and ensure an agile business infrastructure that is ready to meet the needs of the future.”

Interestingly, business leaders do believe they are more creative today than they were ten years ago, although once again the optimism is lower in Europe (52 percent) compared to Asia (64 percent) and North America (63 percent). Europeans are also less positive about whether technology helps them make good decisions, with 40 percent believing it to be the case, compared to Asia (59 percent) and North America (52 percent).

However, there are some areas where Europeans are more confident. Sixty five percent believe that technology has helped drive open debate and discussion within their organisations, compared to 57 percent in Asia. Europeans are also more confident about the role of technology in terms of improving productivity, with 72 percent saying that they believed this was the case, compared to 59 percent in North America and 68 percent in Asia.

“It is clear that the impacts of technology are varied; a one-size approach to transformation is not possible,” adds Bruhn. “What is certain is that change is unavoidable. The ways of working that we have taken for granted are unlikely to survive much longer. However a workplace where decisions are made entirely by computers or robots isn’t forecast by global leaders just yet. The future shows great potential for humans to benefit from more creative and informed decision making, supported by technology, effective business processes and new ways to share and access information. If European business leaders master a truly connected and efficient workplace, just imagine what can be achieved on top of what has already been experienced today.”


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Carsten Bruhn

Executive vice president, Ricoh Europe


Carsten Bruhn is Executive Vice President, Commercial. His focus is on leading Ricoh’s relationships with its customers – ensuring the business continues to understand, innovate, and respond to customer needs. Carsten is responsible for Ricoh Global Services Europe and for Ricoh’s Managed Document Services and Outsourcing Business.