IT departments can’t be relegated to back offices any longer. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, most companies hired IT personnel to stand at the ready in the background of the company’s daily operations to solve technical problems as they appeared or to implement new systems. IT has long played this supportive yet reactive role in companies’ overall structures, but digital transformation changed the function of IT.
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What’s Driving this Change?
When companies transitioned to remote work at the onset of the pandemic and then to work-from-anywhere as it continued, the significant burden of workplace functionality was placed entirely on IT departments. In fact, employees surveyed said they were operating at only 60% capacity due to limited workplace technologies.
Employees need better digital experiences and access to the right tools to effectively accomplish their work, and as they demand increased flexibility, the need for adequate technology will only increase. Employees report that they have lost productivity due to slow internet, and others did not have the technology or tools needed to support their home offices.
Most companies require some sort of communication system, a video conferencing application, and even project management platforms for employees to function in this environment, which presents further technological challenges.
The average organization uses 110 software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, and companies are constantly reevaluating their tech stacks to create better workplace environments. These changes put IT at the forefront of company operations and the digital user experience. As a result of an increasingly digital workforce, IT departments are more impactful and more essential than ever before.
Employee Experiences Are Digital
The modern employee experience cannot be separated from the digital employee experience. When technology does not work as it should, employees cannot function properly in their jobs, and when technological needs aren’t met, employees are forced to consider leaving their companies in search of a better experience.
In fact 36% of employees report that they have considered leaving an employer due to poor digital experiences—and of those, 14% admitted they actually left. This represents a significant challenge in a competitive environment where nearly half of all employees globally are considering changing jobs.
McKinsey’s report on the Great Attrition highlighted why employees are leaving their companies in droves: They want better experiences. This got business leaders talking. Creating a positive employee experience is not a single-step process. It’s more akin to building a pyramid in which each element supports the next.
If companies want to boost retention, they need to create better employee experiences and meet all of their core foundational needs. A fully functioning, fast, usable digital experience is an employee’s most basic need in a digital work environment, no matter what that employee’s work environment is like.
O.C. Tanner’s 2021 Global Culture Survey found that when technology is integrated into workplace culture, employees are five times more engaged and companies are four times more likely to increase revenue. Even further, the same report found that 77% of employees believe advanced technology will improve their workplace experience.
These new values put IT departments in the spotlight. As a result, information technology teams must be recognized as critical components of employee effectiveness and the company’s overall success.
Digital Disruptions Cost Companies Significant Resources
In the same way that tech issues cause problems in the employee experience, they can also create a budget deficit. Digital disruptions are costly long term, as they directly impact IT operating costs. Some employees report losing almost one hour (54 minutes) per week due to IT downtime.
Just the cost of viewing and resolving IT tickets for a single employee runs into thousands of dollars per year. Extrapolate that cost across thousands of employees, while also adding the loss of productivity and effectiveness that comes from suboptimal device performance, and the impact is staggering.
IT departments must be equipped with the tools to not only manage these issues but prevent them. As such, IT management should involve investing in tools that check for system outages and report detailed insights regularly. From this data, IT personnel can determine what caused an outage and solve the problem as quickly as possible, reducing the overall impact the outage may have on employees.
Corporate Digital Acceleration Won’t Slow Down
Many organizations already depend on a vast number of digital tools to complete work each day, and data shows this number will only increase. CompTIA predicted a 104% global growth rate in the IT industry between 2018 and 2023. The industry will only expand further as more organizations embrace a work-from-anywhere business structure and move to equip their employees with the tools they need to succeed at their jobs, no matter the location.
The biggest difference between this next decade of digital transformation and the last one is that IT leaders will be more informed in how they make decisions. Corporate leaders need to understand the unique technological needs within their companies, so they can prepare for an even greater digital transformation.
This is where IT departments play a critical role. In preparing for the future digital workforce, leaders need data to gauge the digital needs of the company. When organizations are equipped with detailed insights into how employees interact with workplace technology, leaders can draw from that information to create better systems and processes. This information will help leaders choose the right tools to support their team members and, ultimately, boost company efficiency alongside employee satisfaction.
IT cannot continue as a back-office job. Digital acceleration moved IT to the top of company priorities, as all other departments rely on technology to function. Companies must respond to these changes by empowering IT personnel with the tools they need to sustain an increasingly digital workforce.
About the Author
Jason Coari is Vice President of Product Marketing & Strategy at Lakeside Software. He is an accomplished B2B SaaS go-to-market executive with 20+ years of progressive international experience in the technology industry. Coari has a track record of driving revenue growth through a rich understanding of the enterprise IT customer journey and holistic go-to-market strategies.