Technology trumps “more meeting rooms” for workplace productivity boost, new BT research

Businesses that invest in digital technologies for their employees are being rewarded with a boost in productivity. That’s the key finding of a new report published today by BT, People, productivity and the digital workplace — 2018.

The report, based on a survey of 1,100 business executives and 600 IT decision makers in 11 global markets across the world, found the vast majority (nine out of ten) of respondents agree that mobile tools and collaboration services are improving productivity in the workplace — up from six out of ten in 2015.

Greater productivity is a goal for many digital transformation programmes, globally. In South Africa 94 per cent of IT decision makers believe that increased productivity is the main benefit of improving digital experiences and it has the support of employees. However, the report found that only 19 per cent of IT decision makers would describe the digital employee experience currently provided by their organisation as excellent (compared to 26 per cent globally). Further to this, 53 per cent strongly agree that the business attitude to budgeting for IT and communications is to cut total operating costs, where a majority (79 per cent) said that if they were the CEO, boosting productivity would be their priority.

The report suggests that there are five simple building blocks to better employee productivity: a more connected video-led workspace; easier working and collaboration away from the office; corporate apps; instant messaging services; and better devices.

When asked what would help employees work effectively at the office, 74 per cent of local IT decision makers said “better Wi-fi” compared with just 25 per cent who said “more meeting rooms”. Forty-nine per cent said “interactive smart collaboration screens”, and 31 per cent said “video rooms”.

The report indicates that IT departments are keen to make the required improvements, but increasingly need help. Eighty-three per cent of IT decision makers said that “employees often don’t understand how difficult it is to make our IT work effectively”, compared to the global average of 76 per cent. They feel that delivering a more digital experience for employees is piling even more demands onto their already long “to do” list. For example, half of IT decision makers said that their video conferencing needs updating, while 69 per cent said they need to build mobile apps so employees can use internal business systems and processes wherever they are. Converging voice and data systems — the technology buzz of a decade ago — is still not a reality and many decision makers said that they are still at the planning stage for “convergence”, as a crucial first step in the digital transformation of their business.

IT decision makers are prioritising investments in cloud to support their collaboration and mobile services. Ninety-two per cent of South African IT decision makers agree that cloud will become prevalent means of delivering voice and collaboration services (compared to a global average of 84 per cent). Thirty per cent already use cloud collaboration technology (global average is 47 per cent), and 47 per cent have plans to update their IM, video and audio conferencing services. Globally, 84 per cent of IT decision makers agreed that “one day cloud will be the accepted way of delivering collaboration services”, compared with 54 per cent in 2015.

Andrew Small, vice president, unified communications and contact centres, Global Services, BT, said: “Our research tells us that there’s a straightforward way to boost workplace productivity that doesn’t involve refitting offices. New, smart ways of working can be achieved through mobile and collaboration tools deployed as cloud-based services backed by wireless connectivity. Our teams of specialised professional consultants can help customers design and implement solutions that fit their needs. Digital transformation may sound daunting, but ensuring employees get a great mobile and collaborative experience is a very good place to start.”

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