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What is the Real Cost of Inefficient IT?

According to a recent study of 3000 employees, inefficient workplace technology dramatically decreases productivity,false

February 2017

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According to a recent study of 3000 employees, inefficient workplace technology dramatically decreases productivity, and drives 20% of end users to introduce their own IT solutions (and the security threats that go with them) to improve their ability to complete their work.

The survey only confirms what a lot of us may have instinctively felt. Sometimes the computers, printers, the Wi-Fi signal, or Internet bandwidth we use is just not very good. If the organizations we work for only see IT as an expense with limited strategic value, this statement and thus the feeling is more likely to be true.

Trade organizations would not think of sending plumbers, carpenters, and electrician’s off to work with sketchy tools but our knowledge workers, no matter the business, are not always so lucky. 25% of workers surveyed think their company’s technology and policies hurt their work productivity.

A full 31% of Millennials surveyed believe the technology and policies both, at work, impeded productivity. 31% of the respondents said internet speed and network outages at work were the biggest recurring technology problem.

Analyst firm Aberdeen Group confirmed this in their own study, citing 50% of businesses are losing revenue due to poorly performing applications. That’s not just a few unhappy employees being impacted, that is top line revenue, cash flow, the lifeblood of business impacted by a poor IT end user experience in one form or another.

One in four employees stated that their own productivity is being negatively impacted by a poor IT experience corroborated by Aberdeen pointing to research correlating the quality of end user experience to top line revenue, but research offers more.

Research suggests employees are not taking this punch to their productivity lying down, 1 in 5 surveyed employees admitted to downloading and using applications without IT’s knowledge. They have jobs to do, bosses to please and they want to get home before 7 every night, so these over-achieving employees that refuse to fail or let a little thing like a poor company-provided IT infrastructure prevent them from getting their job done are Googling their backsides off, finding solutions to their own unique problems.

Employees would naturally have more interest in doing their job than satisfying some IT rule that says they are only allowed to use technology provided by IT. These productivity enhancing shadow applications might be introducing a security risk, but they solve a problem the end user is experiencing.

It would be easy to say that a percentage of businesses must not be investing enough in IT or that IT is inefficient or tone deaf to the needs of the staff they are supporting. While that may be the case, from my experience the gap between what IT provides and what end users want is often filled with a lack of IT’s understanding of how employees really do work.

While IT can’t necessarily do anything about their own budget, the solution may be as simple as spending time with end users, shadowing them as they work, from the perspective of how to improve the experience and simplify the technology needed to do their jobs. A good alternative is spending time mapping end user workflows to fully grasp how employees leverage the existing IT infrastructure to complete their work. In some instances the problem is not rogue IT but redundant workflows that negatively impacting the end user experience and by extension, revenue. 34% of respondents surveyed said they are spending 1-2 hours per day completing work that could be automated or 45 days to three months of productive misspent every year.

These surveys are fascinating and exciting to me in that there is so much potential for business productivity gains doing nothing more than improving IT department efficiency and delivering IT that takes how employees do what they do for the organization into consideration. Security issues presented by employees introducing shadow IT should theoretically melt away as IT both understands what end users are doing and is able to meet those needs.

Where IT is, or can be, a value-add to the business there is the potential for latent revenue. Aberdeen Group confirms this yet again in another study, stating application performance issues can impact corporate revenues by as much as 9%.

There is a direct correlation across a variety of research that ties intelligent IT spend to top line revenue. Intelligent spend, in this instance, is IT spend that directly improves employee productivity.

IT investment measured from the perspective of the end user is the ultimate metric. If we get it right at the end user level, then the infrastructure behind the end user must be sufficient. If the goal of our technology investment is to make employees and thus the business more productive, then by doing this we’ve taken a critical step the right direction.

While there is a lot of information here, the underlying ideas are fairly simple and are things we introduce in the environments we host and manage to help meet our SLA’s.

  • Understand how the end user really works.
  • Introduce standardized infrastructure builds to reduce ticket counts.
  • Introduce automation to a resolve a large percentage of tickets automatically.
  • Tie IT investment directly to top business objectives or improving employee productivity.
  • Be responsive to end user needs to avoid shadow IT where possible but introduce Citrix or other similar technologies to limit application sprawl and to allow users more freedom in how they work without directly involving IT at every step.

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