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Why IT needs to align with people

IT has always strived to align with the business, but recent research has found that users are struggling to take on tech innovations

Technology will always be considered an inhibitor, as much as an enabler, if human impact is not placed front and centre, a study from Lenovo has warned.

The online survey carried out by Walnut, based on 1,000 IT managers from UK, Netherlands, France and Germany, showed evidence that enterprises are still overly focused on business outcomes, such as shareholder value and its impact on bottom line, as primary considerations for technology investment. The research found that this comes at the expense of softer, yet no less important, measures of success such as user satisfaction.

The research found that users in business and IT professionals are finding it harder to keep pace with technological change.

In fact, 47% of the IT managers who took part in the study said users struggle to adopt new software, while over half (52%) noted that they experience a high volume of helpdesk queries when implementing new software.

Participants in the study reported that they regularly see employees feeling overwhelmed by the speed and complexity of technology change, and the volume of information. The study found that many employees avoid new technology, or require a large investment of time from the IT team to get them up to speed.

More than 50% of new technology projects are positive in enabling the business, but 20% of IT managers have also experienced a reduction in capability. IT managers also reported that they regularly see employees struggling to adopt new technology due to the pace and complexity of intelligent transformation. As many as half of respondents had experienced instances where technology adoption actually got in the way of the team’s ability to work properly.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of IT managers said their investment decisions are entirely business-centric. Only 6% of IT managers across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) stated that their IT decision-making is user-centric.

The study also recognised the challenge with older IT systems. The most common factors inhibiting IT projects across EMEA were legacy IT challenges (45%) and technology complexity preventing user adoption (42%). 

While 52% of IT managers are optimistic about emerging tech’s ability to deliver improved productivity, 26% expressed concerns around users’ ability to adopt it, while a quarter (25%) were worried that new technology complicated their IT infrastructure.

According to Lenovo, the study showed that while technology should empower users to achieve greater things, it is commonly inhibiting progress. 

Tips on aligning IT with users

Lenovo’s research suggests five areas IT needs to address:

  1. How is the technology being deployed?
  2. How are we transitioning from proof of concept to full implementation?
  3. What support is being put in place?
  4. How is that support being automated and scaled?
  5. How are we measuring the impact and success of change?

Giovanni Di Filippo, president of EMEA for Lenovo’s Data Center Group, said: “For too long, IT decisions have placed pure cost above a business’s most valuable asset: people. It’s people who change the world, and we know that data and technology cannot be transformative without humans bringing it to life and giving it purpose.”

“We want businesses to ‘think human’ by investing in Smarter Technology for All. As for vendors – it’s time to think beyond what they make and consider who they make it for. If people are put first, we know the benefits and desired company outcomes will be great.”

With the advent of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), augmented reality (AR) and more, Lenovo warned that there is a potential for this problem to grow at an exponential scale before it gets better. The report suggested that greater attention therefore needs to be given to execution.

“Businesses should always have the user front of mind when making IT decisions. If technology is overly complex, it will have a negative impact on both the productivity of the technology, as well as those using it.

“By reducing complexity and ensuring technology is adopted for users, rather than financial benefit, employees will be more productive. It will also lead to greater levels of productivity, innovation and deployment success when implementing future IT projects,” the report’s authors wrote.

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