Millennials, AI and 5G bring big changes to workplace technology
Employees are shaping the technology changes in businesses faster than ever, making the results from our annual Employee Workplace Technology Survey increasingly fascinating and important. The 2019 survey revealed significant changes to the way people work and to the expectations that employees have for technology in the workplace.
Each year we survey over 660 employees in the US and Europe about their attitudes to technology in the workplace. We cover a range of technologies and trends in our study, including artificial intelligence (AI) and speech assistants, security, privacy and trust, end-user computing, usage of business-related applications and affinity with technology brands.
Here we provide four of the most significant findings from this year’s data. For a detailed overview of the results, the full report is available to our clients now (see Enterprise Insight: Employee Survey Shows Millennials Are Transforming Workstyles).
1. Mobile Working Is the Leading Work Paradigm for Millennials
Mobile working is now central to the way people work, with our survey showing that 42% of employees spend more than three hours a day working on a mobile device, shown in the chart below. This figure is even higher, at 51%, for millennial employees, defined in our survey as those born between 1990 and 2001. As the average number of connected devices per employee keeps on rising, to 4.9, employees’ growing dependence on mobile devices and cloud applications in their personal lives is continuing to be a vehicle for changes in the way they work.
Millennials are leading this shift in workstyle, with 25% spending more than five hours during the workday working on a mobile device. As the proportion of this demographic in the workforce grows — and is expected to reach a third of the workforce by 2020 — we see these individuals having an increasingly significant impact on the pace of change, and their perspectives provide a valuable insight into the future demands on IT organizations. For example, 51% of millennials said they’re frustrated about the lack of integration between the applications they use for work, and 45% felt they spend too much time switching between applications to get their tasks done.
2. Businesses Must Urgently Transform Their Approach to Security
Our survey shows that 37% of employees and 49% of millennials believe their company’s security processes inhibit their productivity. Perimeter-based approaches to securing business applications and data aren’t fit for purpose in this new world, where growth in mobile end-points and in the number of cloud-based applications is forcing organizations to overhaul their security models. Employees are experiencing the pains of this reality first-hand, with passwords and software updates proving to be the biggest headaches. Investments in passwordless authentication and zero-trust models can’t come soon enough for employees.
3. Google Extends Lead In AI; Fear for Jobs Still the Big Barrier to AI Adoption
For the second year, Google is viewed as the front runner in AI in our survey, this time extending its mindshare over rivals Microsoft and Apple among employees. We believe one of the main reasons for this is that Google also has the most widely used AI-enabled voice assistant, Google Assistant, which is preferred by 36% of employees in our survey.
But despite the growing penetration of AI in suppliers’ technology offerings and enterprise strategies alike, employees remain concerned about its impact on jobs, and are increasingly worried about privacy.
4. Employees Consider 5G to Be the Biggest Future Disruptor to the Workplace
One of the most fevered topics over the past 12 months has been the dawn of 5G networks, and this is clearly reaching employees, with 34% in our research expecting this trend to deliver the strongest impact on workplaces in the next two years. Although it’s still early days in the roll-out of 5G in many markets, and the availability of a 5G core infrastructure to enable many of the highly publicized uses for 5G such as the Internet of things is at least three to five years away, the promise of better connectivity remains a high priority for employees. Indeed, fixed-line corporate networks and 4G signal problems topped the list of connectivity challenges for employees in our research.
What It Means: the Employee Voice Is Impossible to Ignore
Our 2019 survey highlights employees’ growing frustrations about the lack of alignment between their current workplace technology practices and the way they increasingly want to work. In response, businesses must provide employees with integrated, flexible and modern working experiences, intuitive applications that support autonomy and personalization, and secure unobtrusive underlying infrastructure and management that enables effective working in a way that meets the needs of employees.
New technologies and emerging market trends are accelerating the pace of change, and our research indicates that employees are more than ready to take on this change. The pressure is on organizations to keep up with their expectations.
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