Tech

Words to strike fear into admins’ hearts: One in five workers consider themselves ‘digital experts’ these days

In what sounds like an introduction to an episode of Who, Me? Gartner has published the results of a survey showing nearly one in five workers “consider themselves to be digital technology experts”.

The news will delight IT administrators charged with supporting them over the last year or so and is attributed to the changes wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sitting at home, relying on digital collaboration tools such as Zoom and Teams, and without much (if any) in-person IT support, “working remotely [has] altered many workers’ relationships to technology,” said Gartner.

Whit Andrews, distinguished research vice president at Gartner, was optimistic, saying: “Workers seized on the crisis to improve their mastery of a wide range of technologies and applications in the space of a few months.”

Yes, that sudden decision to shift the enterprise’s accounting operation to Kubernetes because Dave in Sales can now work Teams will doubtless go swimmingly. Then again, anybody who worries the container tech is a bit complicated should spend some time trying to make Microsoft’s chat platform leap over organisational boundaries.

More serious for admins is that more than half of those surveyed (55 per cent) “reported that they use applications or web services that they personally obtained.” In what could strike fear into the heart of many a CIO, only “most” were employer sanctioned as workers found that their own gear more than made up for the perceived shortcomings of those provided by their bosses.

Unsurprisingly, the survey (which drew on 10,080 full-time employees at organisations with 100 or more employees in the US, Europe and Asia Pacific) also found a shift to portable devices in 2020 as work on mobile machinery grew by 11 per cent as time spent on desktops declined by 8 per cent.

Andrews suggested that companies accept the change: “In 2021, organisations can embrace this trend by expanding the choice of devices and software programmes that workers can use with little or no friction.”

He also pointed out that, having had a taste of remote working, more than 60 per cent of those surveyed would put more emphasis on a location of their choice as well as flexible hours when looking for a new role.

Productivity has, however, wobbled as workers adjusted to a remote or hybrid model. Gartner’s survey found a quarter of employees suffering a fall in productivity, citing technology woes as a factor. 36 per cent, however, reckoned things improved.

Dealing with that quarter, as well as managing the workers that consider themselves Duchesses and Dukes of Digital Collaboration, is the next challenge facing bosses. “CIOs,” said Andrews, “should extend worker-to-worker lateral mentoring and training to ensure that no employees are left behind as technology mastery becomes the expectation.”

Our advice? Beware the suddenly expert user in your enterprise for fear that you might feature in a future Who, Me? ®


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