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UK companies are wasting buckets of cash and throwing away the chance to compete in the world economy - and all because they're failing to make the most of their £50 billion a year investment in IT.

It gets worse. There are dangers that much of the technology being used is creating headaches for staff, denting their morale. Whose fault is this? Britain's 'lost generation' of low-tech managers, according to research published today by the Work Foundation's iSociety project.

In what is being described as the "first systematic, large-scale study of technology in UK workplaces", iSociety reckons that UK firms are "getting by, not getting on" when it comes to using ICT.

And unless things improve, many organisations could become trapped in a 'low tech equilibrium' - "largely the result of unskilled users, uninformed managers and disconnected IT people", said the report.

Pointing the finger at the bosses, the report argues that much of UK management is made up of a "lost generation" which does not understand ICT, because it did not grow up immersed in technology.

Techies - who do have this knowledge - tend to be sidelined in key decision-making and are disconnected from the management mainstream. In effect, low-tech managers are forcing the UK economy into a low tech equilibrium, said the report.

Here's what Max Nathan, senior researcher at the Work Foundation, thinks: "Our research legitimises the lay experience - technology isn't working. Not only does this create daily frustration and misery for many, but it damages the performance of British businesses and the economy in general. British firms have sunk billions into ICT systems over the past decade, investment that needs to work harder.

"If the UK is to avoid being trapped in a low tech equilibrium, Government, businesses and the technology industry must drive change, transforming workplaces from a mood of stoicism to one of optimism."

The solution, according to the Work Foundation, is simple. First, the IT industry needs to stop promising the impossible and tell punters what their IT kit can actually achieve.

Then, chief execs need to get IT savvy and take "compulsory IT literacy tests" [is this a joke? - ed]. They also need to stop treating the IT department as an outcast and bring it into the core of the business. Sorted. ®

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