Too many firms have allowed their employees to be prisoners to technology and are stifling productivity.
That was the claim by Microsoft’s chief envisioning officer Dave Coplin during his keynote this week at Ingram Micro’s Cloud Live 2016 event at Woburn Forest Center Parcs.
“We now have a richer personal technology experience at home than we do in our working lives, and this is how your customers feel about technology. It is affecting productivity. The UK is the second from bottom of the G7 countries in productivity terms,” he said.
“But it is how we think about productivity. Society over the last 200 years has become fixated on efficiency, putting more focus on making processes more efficient. In a recent survey 77 per cent of people questioned said clearing their inbox counts as a productive day. Really?
“We are working based on processes invented in the nineteenth century; we still work like the Victorians,” he said. “The biggest challenge facing companies is employee engagement, and at the moment 83 per cent of the UK workforce is disengaged. The figure is 71 per cent in the US. We can bring in amazing new technologies, but unless the employees care, they are never going to come with you on your journey,” Coplin explained.
“We are surrounded by too much information every moment of the day, and we walk around complaining about having too much information, but the success of an organisation depends on getting information. The world of data is the biggest part of the puzzle, and your future as an organisation and that of your customers depends on the ability to change perception on data.”
He said data was the "fuel" of all businesses, giving a better view of what is happening, and leading the way to more predictive analysis, which is a valuable business tool. “At the moment we are enslaved by technology and allow it to control what we do. Until we break free of that, we are not going to think differently about productivity,” Coplin said.
“Every person in a company needs to be empowered and allow technology to lift you to a better job. That way you can focus on outcomes rather than the processes.”
The channel plays a vital role in all this, Coplin said.
He told the story of his journey to the conference where he spotted a man sprinkling white powder along the roadside.
Coplin said: "I said to the guy, 'what's that?' he replied: 'elephant powder'. I then said to him 'but there aren't any elephants around here'. He said: 'I know, it’s really powerful stuff, isn’t it?'
“In our business lives there is stuff we do that is completely pointless, and your job [as the channel] is to seek that stuff out with your customers – find the stuff that is redundant and irrelevant.”
“Thinking about the future is really hard,” he concluded. “But unless you think differently, you will struggle. You have to get outside your industry and your customers’ industries, and show them all this technology and how it will disrupt and change their business. Computers give the answers, but you need to be the ones asking the right questions.”
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