The Impact of Digital Technology in the Workplace
By Anne Marie Murray
A recent survey found that IT workers spend at least two hours each day dealing with glitches and other problems resulting from the deployment of newer digital technologies in the workplace. According to enterprise technology workers, corporate technologies are growing more complex, leading to more time spent troubleshooting and trying to understand these increasingly crucial technologies. The time spent on these issues alone adds up to hundreds of hours a year, time that could be better devoted to ensuring the success of enterprise IT programs that can more clearly add value to the business.
There is no denying the growing importance of digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence, the cloud, data analytics, the Internet of things, and more. Every day, more and more technologies promising increased ease of workflow, enhanced productivity, and improved communication enter the market. To allow these products to deliver on their promises to business leaders, IT teams must determine which are worth the investment, and deploy them properly and efficiently.
However, the Wall Street Journal cited research finding that 48 percent of employees feel that problems arising from these digital technologies are "'directly hindering' the success of their IT strategies," and 75 percent had "'low levels of confidence' in their ability to fix these problems." For these technologies to be successful and add the value the business is looking for, IT teams and management need to work together and ensure their goals are aligned. Business leaders in the C-Suite should look for counsel from their IT teams when considering new technologies to deploy in their workforce. Communication at all stages of this process can ensure that the solutions being considered will solve the problems at hand, and not create new ones. If employees are constantly running into issues with new digital technologies, and IT teams are left to spend hours every day troubleshooting, these once-exciting technologies are definitely failing to add value to the business.
And these technologies are proven to add value, when deployed properly and effectively. The Internet of Things (IoT) , artificial intelligence (AI), cloud, mobile apps, big data, and more can provide valuable customer insights, enhance employee and client experiences, streamline workflows, and cut down on expenses. For example, big data analytics can take into account a customer's buying history, and provide unique recommendations for what they might like to purchase next. AI can make these suggestions, and sensors powered by the IoT can enhance the shopping experience in a bricks-and-mortar store. In the workplace, AI can automate manual tasks, freeing up employees to focus on those that require more attention and critical thinking. IoT-powered devices throughout the office can enhance and personalize the workplace experience, and sensors across the supply chain provide more visibility, leading to more efficient processes.
To take advantage of these opportunities, all business units should be communicating clearly and honestly about their needs and challenges. With IT teams as a central hub for evaluating digital technologies under consideration, and deploying those that have been determined to add the most value to the business, all employees can benefit. This goes both ways, though, and management should take responsibility for helping IT teams develop the necessary skills for managing newer technologies. According to another recent survey, gaps in these skills leading to declines in productivity and revenue is of growing concern for the majority of IT and business executives, at companies of all sizes and in a variety of industries. It is definitely in a business leader's best interest to put in the time and resources necessary to keep IT teams up-to-date and educated on the latest digital technologies that will be integral to their business.
These technologies promise innovation, improved productivity, and added value for the business, so it makes sense that business leaders are eager to deploy them within their organizations as quickly as possible. But management and IT cannot afford to go around one another, or they will be facing a host of new challenges and issues with these technologies, instead of getting the most out of them. In order to maintain their authority within their respective business units, it may be tempting for IT and management teams to circumvent one another when it comes to considering and deploying these new technologies. But as with any challenge in business, open communication and agreed-upon goals will be integral to success here, when all members of the team will see the promises of new digital technologies realized in their workplace.