The State Of US Workforce Technology Adoption

Ted-Schadler by Ted Schadler

Did you know that among US information workers that:

  • 35% use laptops and 76% use desktop computers?

  • Only 11% use smartphones?

  • 57% are optimistic about technology, but 43% are pessimistic?

We know because we surveyed 2,001 US information workers that use computers in their jobs at firms with 100 or more employees. Here are a few highlights from a report we published today [available to Forrester clients]:

  • Most applications are not widely adopted. Email, word processing, Web browsers, and spreadsheets are the top four applications. But even in those apps, the level of involvement or expertise varies widely — while 60% of employees use word processing daily, only 42% actually create documents. Most other applications are used by only a minority of iWorkers.

  • There is pent up demand for smartphones. Only one in 10 information workers has a smartphone for work, but one in three agrees that they use a personal mobile phone for work purposes. Twenty-one percent of iWorkers would like to get email outside of work, and 15% would like email on a smartphone. Any way you slice it, this means that there is pent-up demand for smartphones at work.

  • Collaboration tools are stalled out, leaving email to reign supreme.Collaboration tools are important for people on a team, particularly if that team is distributed across many locations. But the tools are not widely adopted. For example, only one in four iWorkers uses Web conferencing, and one in five uses team sites. That leaves email with 87% adoption as the default collaboration tool for most people.

  • Gen Y employees are getting squashed at work.These younger workers behave very differently from others outside of work, but they are not so different in how they use technology in their jobs. Sixty percent of these 18- to 29-year-olds use social networking at home, but only 13% use it for work — the same percentage as Gen X employees ages 30 to 43.

This data will help Information & Knowledge Management and other IT professionals:

  • Improve your negotiating position by using data to drive license discussions. By knowing exactly which applications the workforce is using today and the frequency of use (read: importance) of each application, sourcing and vendor management professionals can bring hard data to the negotiating table.

  • Practice lean provisioning, making decisions based on workforce research. By tailoring the workforcetechnology tool kit to the specific needs of each information worker segment, infrastructure and operations professionals will improve adoption, activity, satisfaction, and productivity. And with tough decisions around desktop virtualization, mobility, and access, quantitative analysis is the right foundation.

  • Identify gaps in productivity and barriers to success.CIOs have plenty of scars from the failure of previous technology investments to thrill and delight the workforce. By asking workers what they truly need or why they don't think they need a new technology, this benchmark will lay the groundwork to prevent future failures.

  • Use data to help with tough architecture decisions. "Mobilize every application" is a mantra that rings ever louder in the halls of many IT shops. For an enterprise architect, it's important to have data to know who's working at home, who's working away from his desk, who's collaborating with customers from a customer site, and what each of those groups needs from technology.

  • Talk to business sponsors in the language of metrics. In presenting data on what different groups of information workers need and get from technology, information and knowledge management professionals responsible for a collaboration, portal, or knowledge management program can have a meaningful discussion about adoption, gaps, requirements, and funding.

Questions, comments, thoughts? Please share.