A Day In The Life Of An Information Worker

Ted-Schadler by Ted Schadler

How do information workers -- people that use computers or smartphones in their job -- spend their days?

We set out to answer that question using our new Workforce Technographics(R) data. In our launch survey to understand how regular people use computers, smartphones, and applications to get their work done, we surveyed 2,001 people in the US with jobs in which they use a computer. We asked about all kinds of things, including how much time they spend with their computers and phones, which applications they use daily or even hourly, what applications they find indispensable, whether they work mostly with other employees or with customers or partners, and much more.

Our first report is a quick snapshot of a day in the life of an information worker (iWorker). (We'll be sharing a lot more data at a Webinar on Thursday at 11 AM ET; register here.) For example, did you know that:

  • Gen X (not Gen Y) is the most likely to use Web 2.0 technology to get their job done?

  • Smartphones are available to only 11% of US information workers?

  • Email is still the only application used on an hourly basis by most iWorkers?

  • One in four information workers spend 4 or more hours a week looking for information?

  • 37% of information workers meet with customers or partners at least monthly?

A picture does paint a thousand words, so here's a sample of what we're able to do with Workforce Technographics to separate fact from fiction with accurate data:

GenX Web 2.0

What does this mean?

  • What it means (WIM) #1: IT Professionals get a benchmark to compare their company against. This will help them build a business case, drive urgency into the discussion, and understand what their competition may be doing.

  • WIM #2: Investment decisions can be made based on data rather than intuition. In scarce economic times, where even the relatively paltry spend on the information worker toolkit (a tiny fraction of their salary and on par with spending on desks, chairs, and facilities) is under intense scrutiny. Some of our clients require 7 signatures before spending money on new or refreshed workforce technology. Having data -- Forrester's or a custom analysis of your own workforce -- will help.

  • WIM #3: IT can speak in the language of business.For too long, IT has been operating apart from the business they support. There is no such thing as "the business" when we realize (as one client has shared) that IT professionals are also part of the business. But armed with real data, a CIO or enterprise architect or information & knowledge management professional can speak in the language of metrics, benchmarks, and return.

  • WIM #4: Market research can become a valuable tool in the IT portfolio.The availability of online survey tools, a growing capability for quantitative research, and the realization that survey real people (or employees) can help drive the business discussion.

Questions, comments, issues? Please comment.


re: A Day In The Life Of An Information Worker

Looks great Ted! Can you provide a link to the report?

re: A Day In The Life Of An Information Worker

Hi Ted,Very interesting survey results and article. Some weeks ago, Peter O´Neill showed us the "Social Technographics of B2B buyers" which contained also some stunning social behaviors.As most of our marketing team members belong to "Gen X", we were wondering how we could manage to cope with the expectations of "Gen Y". As currently Gen X is more active compared with Gen Y, how do you think the latter group´s behavior will change over the next months? Will their online activities differ from those of Gen X?Regards, Sibylle

re: A Day In The Life Of An Information Worker

Chris: Here's a link to the report, just now live: http://www.forrester.com/Research/Document/0,7211,55268,00.htmlSibylle, I'm happy to also talk offline about this (tschadler@forrester.com), but in general I would expect that as more businesses enable Web 2.0 and mobile tools, the Gen Y uptake will pick up. It's already clear from our consumer data that at home, Gen Y and youth (the so-called "millenials") are much more comfortable with Internet and mobile technology.My own opinion is that younger people are in some ways more practical than old folks like me. They use what works because they have no rutted road of history to follow. (How's that for a metaphor from the victorian era?!?)But we know young consumers are not big into Twitter; they prefer mobile texting where they have direct control over the message. Facebook's different: it's about social influence through exposure. But if Facebook disappoints, Gen Y and youth will flee as they did MySpace.Happy to talk further. Just ping me by email.Ted

re: A Day In The Life Of An Information Worker

Groovy and ...And I'd love to see your def of the generation's and their birth years. Do you ping to generational theory super-heroes, Strauss & Howe? Or are you making up your own def of the years?My suspicion, if you use Strauss & Howe's years, GenX will bump up even higher in your stats/survey.And, oh, Millennials are not, by any means, more comfortable with the Internet. Mobile, yes? But the internet? That's the GenX realm, dude. ;-)