Western European employees look to the IT department when they have a technical problem, but they look elsewhere for strategic advice, according to a digital workplace survey by Gartner, Inc. Eighty-one percent of respondents in Western Europe said they regularly approach IT to solve technical issues, but only 28 percent would go to IT for best practice advice on how to use technology.
"The concern for the IT department is that digitally proficient employees tend to see IT as a purely technical resource," said Debra Logan, vice president and Fellow at Gartner. "To grow in importance and recognition, IT leaders must embrace digital business. They must become experts in the many ways technology can meet business goals and use this expertise to elevate their role within the organization."
Ms. Logan presented these findings during Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2015, which is taking place here through today. The online survey gathered data from 1,000 employees in Western Europe from organizations with more than 100 employees. The survey was conducted July through August of this year.
Digital Skills Abound but Are Underutilized
The survey showed that 74 percent of respondents in Western Europe consider themselves to be either “an expert” (15 percent) or “proficient” (59 percent) with their workplace digital technology. Similarly, 73 percent of respondents said they welcome new technology in the workplace, and 72 percent feel that technology is beneficial in getting things done.
While this hunger to embrace technology is positive, many employees don't feel their skills are fully used. Of those rating themselves proficient, only 31 percent feel their digital technology skills are used to a large extent, with 50 percent saying their skills are partially used, and 20 percent saying their skills aren't really harnessed at all.
A Significant Minority Use Shadow IT
Depending on use cases – including collaboration, data analysis, and service delivery – around 11-13 percent of respondents regularly use personal technology applications or services for their work, even though doing so is not sanctioned by their employer. An additional 20-29 percent are using personal technology with the blessing of their company.
“Aside from the usual risks associated with shadow IT, there is a further concern for the IT organization of being relegated to a position of less influence in the business,” said Ms. Logan. When asked how they address their technical issues at work, 40 percent of employees said their first choice was IT, however, 40 percent said their first choice was to either look for an answer on the Internet (23 percent) or turn to a co-worker who doesn't work in IT (17 percent). For 19 percent of employees, IT was their third choice.
"IT departments need to maintain their technical competencies where they are performing very well,” said Ms. Logan. “However, enhancing softer skills and building closer relationships with digitally-savvy employees and business units is vital to securing IT's seat at the digital business table.”
The Desktop PC Lives On
When respondents were asked if they had to select just one screen for work purposes, 58 percent chose their desktop PC, 33 percent chose laptops, and 5 percent selected tablets, and 4 percent selected smartphones. “This is a stark contrast to their preferences at home, where the laptop gets 49 percent approval, the desktop gets 27 percent, and the tablet and smartphone receive 11 and 12 percent,” said Ms. Logan. “In either scenario, claims of the PC's demise are premature.”