Confused senior managers
PHOTO: Shutterstock

With enterprise workers using digital technology in the home on a daily basis, many workers believe that the organizations where they work are not keeping up with their digital needs and are out of touch, according to recent research from Gartner.

Digital Disconnect

The research is the result of a survey of 3120 workers (fee required) in the US, Europe and Asia/Pacific on their attitudes to technology, their engagement with work and their satisfaction with the applications that they are given to achieve professional goals. It showed that less than 50 percent of workers — both IT and non-IT workers believe that CIOs know what technology workers want and need. It also showed that there was some difference between the level of awareness of technology problems between Europe and the US. The survey showed that European workers believe their CIO is more aware of technical challenges (58 percent) while the equivalent in the US is 41 percent.

Non-IT workers were overall more likely than IT workers to express dissatisfaction with the technologies supplied for their work. IT workers express greater satisfaction with their work devices than do workers outside IT departments. Only 41 percent of non-IT workers felt very or completely satisfied with their work devices, compared to 59 percent of surveyed IT workers. 

Related Article: 7 Ways to Measure Workplace Collaboration and Productivity Tool Efficacy

Non-IT Workers Not Digitally Dexterous

The research showed that the majority of non-IT workers have difficulties with digital technology. Only 7 percent of non-IT workers classified themselves as experts in the use of digital technology as opposed to 32 percent of IT workers. Furthermore, 67 percent of non- IT workers feel their organizations does not make use of their digital skills.

About three in four digital workers either somewhat agree (48 percent) or strongly agree (24 percent) that the digital technology their organization provides enables them to accomplish their work. The tools that are perecieved as most helpful include:

  • Messaging (58 percent)
  • Sharing tools (55 percent)
  • Workplace social media (52 percent)

The research also showed that millennial digital workers are more inclined than older age groups are to use workplace applications and devices that are not provided by their organization, whether they are tolerated or not. They also have stronger opinions about the collaboration tools they select for themselves.

Related Article: 9 Big Community and Collaboration Platform Trends for 2018

Digital Overload

Despite this and according to research from RingCentral,the C-Suite is behind on one of the biggest workplace shifts of a generation, notably team messaging. Its recent global report entitled, From Workplace Chaos to Zen, showed that 70 percent of workers feel overloaded by communications and more than two-thirds of workers waste up to 32 days a year at work navigating between workplace apps.

The research, which was the result of an online survey among 2,000 knowledge workers in the US, UK and Australia in January 2018 indicated that despite the growing popularity among young workers, the C-Suite is not only slower to adopt newer communications technologies but there is a disconnect with the cultural shift away from email. A breakdown of the findings shows that:

  • While 80 percent of c-level executives are likely to find their communications volume very or somewhat challenging, 27 percent of the c-suite find team messaging disruptive, the most of any group.
  • The c-level is less likely to expect team messaging benefits like productivity, faster completion of work, and ease of working remotely than lower-level employees.
  • While 66 of workers want a single platform to fix the comms chaos, 44 percent of c-level execs are just fine with today’s setup.

Digital Skills Gap

Stefano Bellasio is CEO and founder of San Francisco-based Cloud Academy, an enterprise employee training platform. He points out that the lack of tools and skills is hampering digital workplace development and the achievement of business goals. The demand for cloud skill is accelerating and the IT skills gap continues to hinder business in many industries. Employees are looking to hone in on new skills and polish the ones they have to stay relevant in a changing landscape. ”CIOs know that cloud is becoming a core component of their business and that there is no shortcut, they need to upskill their workforce and keep changing to stay competitive. With more and more software moving to the cloud, we see companies transforming themselves with strategic investments on training and skills,” he said.

Managers Are Unprepared

However, workplace managers are still not prepared for this, according to Crissy Bogusz, designer and motion graphics artist for Vogue International's Snapchat Team. “In my experience, she said, “the managers of digital and creative teams within any capacity are never easily prepared for the changes coming in from digital software, products, concepts or media in general. This is due to the fact that updates and upgrades to new technology is happening at a faster rate than ever before.” 

She added that in-depth experience of working within interactive technology that has come before, will drastically help managers and those work in digital roles to understand new technological advances because we often see a trend in the kind of technology that is introduced (from one product to another) and the same applies for changes. Some workplace aspects that can help digital managers better prepare for new advances in technology include:

  • A direct working relationship with the manufacturer of that technology.
  • Training on the newly introduced system, program or product needs to be set aside for developers, creatives and managers working within a team that integrates this new technology. This may initially incur a cost or time to the company, but overall it will help a team function quicker and better long term with the new technology.

CIOs Work With The Familiar

Vineet Jain of Mountain View, Calif.-based Egnyte said that while CIOs do a good job of architecting with what they know, which might even be some newer technologies that were brought to their attention where the CIO is behind is in innovation or forward-thinking. “CIOs are often not going out of their way to look for the latest and greatest technologies out there. Instead, they spend a lot of time retrofitting new solutions into the current environment they’ve built, rather than looking to the future for new ways to get things done. CIOs should be well-versed in old and new technologies in order to optimize the output of their workforce,” he said.

Users often still have archaic perceptions of IT, the technology available to them and how that technology should work. It’s certainly getting better, but there’s still a disconnect in how people work and what they need, according to Vytas Kasniunas, partner and director at TetraVX. Often decision makers thinking about a technology refresh are looking to vendors to tell them what they need to buy as opposed to focusing on how the end user works and how technology fits into that. “This is where it gets risky, because then companies are investing in technology according to the agenda of someone outside their senior managers take an end user focused approach before deciding on new technologies to implement in the workplace, otherwise it's likely that their employees' needs will not be met,” he said.

Digital Generations

There is a disconnect related to generational issues in adopting new technologies in the workplace, Cameron Smith senior Global Director of Product Management for Workforce Engagement at Daly City, Calif.-based Genesys. Managers may say, ‘no, I can’t see my employees getting on board’ with the newest AI-enabled system. Meanwhile, the sub-25-year-old digital natives are far more accepting and are excited at the potential benefits. “That said, the younger workforce is also far less forgiving of any tech failure. They’re accustomed to things that just work, so will more quickly abandon a tool after a couple of failed attempts or bad experiences. They have less tolerance than their managers — who may be older — for a system that requires coddling or tweaking,” he said.

However, as the workforce ages, this problem will slowly start to be resolved as technology continues to advance and become more mainstreamed in our lives outside of work, senior leader will have to consider that accommodating the technological needs that employees find outside of the workplace will only enable employees to be more efficient in their work.