iSociety Report on Technology in UK workplaces #

iSociety, part of The Work Foundation (previously known as The Industrial Society) have published Getting by, not getting on: Technology in UK workplaces.

From the abstract:

Three quarters of British workers now use a PC or other ICT at work. Over the past decade, new technology has swept across Britain’s workplaces. It has been the most dramatic change in British companies for a decade. But workplaces across the UK are suffering from a low tech equilibrium: they are getting by, not getting on. This report draws on original research in eight very different British workplaces to provide a wart[s]-and-all look at how technology really works, how it is really used and what people really think about it. It shows how we are not getting the most out of ICT in the workplace, and sets out practical steps for Government, managers and the technology industry to help us move forward.

The report itself is quite thick, so it’s worth starting with the executive summary.

These two items from the summary go to the heart of the matter:

While technology can influence people, the reverse influence is just as strong. What organisations do – or fail to do – with technology is a more important predictor of success than any technical specification. The ‘productivity paradox’ illuminates this point. Research suggests that investment in ICT has modest returns in the first year, comparable to most capital expenditure: over a 5-7 year timeframe, however, the return can increase five-fold. But – and it is big but – these returns depend on time-consuming organisational changes. Firms that simply install new technology will see a dismal return. It is the indirect contribution of ICT that is significant – which comes only when technology is coupled with other organisational changes.
Getting the best out of ICT therefore requires an understanding of how it fits into the ecology of the organisation – its attitudes, culture, rituals, structure, networks, processes and behaviour. Simply dropping ICT into an organisation is unlikely to pay many dividends. It has to be embedded.

[via VNUNet, via Tim Strafford-Taylor]

Julian Elve
Proactive application of technology to business

My interests include technology, personal knowledge management, social change

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