End user productivity: is technology a help or a hindrance?
The need to look beyond IT
Reg Research Judging by the number of supporting technologies that are available, and the claims made for their efficacy, end user productivity issues have long been a thing of the past. But we all know that in real life, it isn’t like that at all. The question remains, though: to what extent can technology help address productivity issues, and at what point does it start getting in the way?
To find out, we asked Reg readers for their views on what ‘productivity’ means to them, what technologies they’re using (or not, as the case may be), how well their organisations were doing, and what they felt was needed to improve things.
Not surprisingly, we got a wide range of opinions, in particular on a number of specific technologies and their ability to enhance productivity. While mobile email, for example, is regarded as essential by the majority, the jury still seems to be out on some other technologies, such as video and web conferencing solutions and desktop virtualisation.
But we also found a high degree of consensus on what constitutes ‘productivity’, what works and what doesn’t, and what should be done about it. The emphasis for many remains on the ‘should’, though: while there’s a strong sense of recognition of what’s wrong, there’s an equally strong sense that nothing much is going to happen. That’s not a good place to be, given that few organisations are doing well when it comes to supporting employee productivity; and it’s not going to get any easier – changes in working patterns and the creeping ‘consumerisation’ of IT are all adding to the challenge.
To find out more about how technology is used to support productivity today, and what can – and needs – to be done to improve things, read the latest Reg reader research report by Freeform Dynamics entitled “End User Productivity Revisited”. You can download it from here.
When the paperwork that used to take too much time is automated, then do you end up with more time to do real work? No, because now you can do much more paperwork. When the manager who used to get a report on last week next week now gets a report on yesterday last night, they can dream up 10 times as many reports to be required, and have more meetings to discuss it all. Corporate used to get quarterly reports by division now has day by day results available and wants to drill down to individuals (but not be overloaded!). Where someone used to send out a few memos a day, then dozens of faxes a day, they can now email hundreds of people a day (or "tweet" to thousands). We're all doing more, but are we being more productive? I don't think standard of living is improving anymore anyway, relation? Dragging society down with busy work, because we can?
as I'm reading, and commenting on, this at work, I'd have to say that tech certainly buggers up productivity.
In the 1970's I worked in a UK based car manufacturers spare parts division as a sysprog on their Sstem 360 mainframe. There was a huge section on one of the buildings filled with well over 100 accounts clerks pouring over the computer printouts.
I went back there contracting in the late 90's. That same area plus more was filled with outsourcing company IT staff. I expect by now all the IT has been offshored so I don't know staff that area will house now but I guarantee it will still be full. I doubt that the business has grown at all as vehicles are a lot more reliable these days.
Didn't somebody once say that the work expands to fit the tme available. They weren't wrong.