Supporting talent key to making most of tech productivity boost

17 December 2021 Consultancy.uk 4 min. read
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Arina Popa, Product Marketing Manager at ActiveOps, explains how technology is modernising the way organisations work, and the way productivity is measured and managed.

In 2017, technology analyst house Gartner found that CEOs in 54% of organisations cited an increase in productivity as vital. To deliver on the expectations of CEOs, CIOs and the organisation need to build a new culture in their workplaces. This new culture would need to adopt and adapt to next-gen technologies – including artificial intelligence (AI), digital platforms, shared ledgers, and robots – to extract the productivity advantages they offer. 

Combining these enterprise technologies with a society that adopts such tech developments as smart cities and precision agriculture, and medicine, would also improve productivity. Yet, it also meant that tweaking around the edges of current organisational models simply wasn’t going to be sufficient. 

Arina Popa, Product Marketing Manager, ActiveOps

This need to combine talent with technological change was emphasised by the pandemic. Last year led to a sudden change in working culture worldwide, forcing organisations to rethink how their people, processes, and technology interfaced despite industry-wide expectations that the pandemic would damage productivity.

Across the economy, reports have since suggested that pandemics in the 21st century have led to a productivity decline of 9%. However, in knowledge-based organisations, CIOs and CTOs reported no significant decrease in productivity. Beyond the pandemic, of course, managers and business technology leaders still need to prepare for a potential fall in output. What can they learn from businesses who survived so well during the pandemic?

Decline and fall out

A growing cadre of research demonstrates that productivity is falling as organisations do not effectively connect their talent, technology, and processes. As technology modernises the way organisations work, so too must the ways productivity is measured and managed. 

This is especially true for middle management, leading to a lack of effective productivity planning despite an excess of middle management staffing in organisations. If productivity is to improve, this will need to be rectified. 

So, it would seem that some areas are more challenging to shift than others. Most environments, particularly complex, data-rich ones, will almost always require a partnership between humans and machines, with machines doing the heavy data processing work and people interpreting and reinforcing decisions.

Yet if there is a positive link between workplace productivity and correctly implemented technology, then the possibilities for growth are endless. Does that mean that productivity is being held back by outdated IT? Maybe even a lack of innovation, poor business planning, and low uptake of flexible working can be to blame too?

The secret to productivity

It’s a fact that organisations need to start shaping the way people and technology work together. Leveraging unique strengths and unlocking the potential on both sides could be the answer many businesses have been looking for.

Once organisations rethink the way they work, equal leverage tech-side can unleash the potential of an organisation’s people. Indeed, the answer to becoming more productive is for organisations to use technology to ensure their teams can achieve outcomes instead of functions – as long as business leaders can recognise that the talent they require is motivated differently from previous generations.

Employees joining the workforce now will want to work towards a purpose that resonates with them. Gone are the days of simply doing a job for the sake of working. The ‘purpose’ and ‘why’ companies do what they do has shifted, and that may well be thanks to the pandemic or at least the way that lockdowns have changed the way we live. Either way, it is vital that recruiting and retaining the right talent is a fundamental part of strategic planning for any business. 

A brave new world 

If there is one thing that 2020 demonstrated, it is that the workforce can be trusted to move beyond the traditional 9-5. Forced to work at home by the Covid-19 virus, CIOs and CTOs across the knowledge sector are still reporting productivity on track and, in some cases, vastly improved.

This is a trend that will continue for any business to stay productive and ahead of the game.