Digital roll-out success comes down to creating the right culture at work with 29 per cent of UK businesses still not bringing in digital technologies 

Businesses hoping that their digital woes will be solved by a surge in Millennials joining the workforce are in for a shock. New research commissioned by Cisco, in partnership with the Institute of Cultural Capital (ICC), has found that creating a positive digital culture at work and encouraging worker confidence in digital tools are the most important factors in ensuring digital roll-outs are successful.

Based on a survey of more than 3,000 UK workers, the findings outline the most important factors to determine whether businesses will succeed with digital roll-outs. Research has found that different organisational cultures lead to contrasting rates of digital adoption. Company digital culture ranked far above an employees’ IT experience, company size or the sector in which they operate, when determining attitudes to digital roll-outs.

Digital vision vs reality

British workers are largely optimistic about their experiences with digital technologies, with more than two thirds (67 per cent) stating that digital technology has had a positive impact on the way they work. Yet there is still work to do. A concerning 29 per cent of businesses are still not bringing in digital technologies. Research also revealed a disconnect between what employees and businesses at large thought was a successful digital roll-out.  Around a quarter (26 per cent) of workers suggested a digital technology to leadership that they thought would benefit the organisation, but nothing came of it.

Employee confidence in leadership when it comes to digital technology is also mixed. Whilst a quarter (24 per cent) of workers are confident in the digital vision put forward by senior management, just under half (45 per cent) are undecided and around a fifth (19 per cent) stated that they are actively concerned about their company’s digital future. The research also found that 29 per cent of employees believe that their leadership team is struggling to push through new digital ways of working, with the same number stating that culturally their organisation is not ready to embrace digital solutions.

Phil Smith Chief Executive, Cisco UK & Ireland: “There’s no doubt that organisations today face a digital double-edged sword. On the one hand new technologies are continuing to re-invent what is possible in the workplace and it is clear business leaders and employees alike understand the potential benefits digital technology can bring. But our research reveals that without first fostering the right culture in the workplace and following a few golden rules when engaging with employees, it’s possible for digital roll-outs to go off-track. Employees are craving clear digital leadership to drive the organisation forward and the boardroom must ensure digital delivers on its promise to help drive productivity and organisational effectiveness.”

Getting digital culture right

There are clear lessons to be learnt from those organisations getting digital roll-outs right. Employees that demonstrated the most positive attitudes to digital technology revealed that there are four key areas for businesses to address for success.

  1. Clear digital leadership Demonstrating a clear digital vision is important but so is taking the time to ensure that workers are on board and equipped to undertake the same digital journey. Research found that 40 per cent of workers stated that the digital technology wasn’t explained effectively to them by their employers.
  1. Fostering positive attitudes to digital technologyThe more time organisations spend consulting staff, and building a culture that nurtures an acceptance of change, the more effective implementation of digital technology is in the workplace. A concerning 64 per cent of workers stated that they weren’t consulted prior to the provision of new digital technologies.
  1. Limit organisational barriers – Prior to roll-out, organisations must assess their structure to highlight any potential barriers to success. This could include addressing out-of-date internal processes, removing restrictive legacy technology systems, or resolving a pre-existing negative digital culture. Employees do value digital technology, with 58 per cent believing its implementation can make their organisation more productive.
  1. Good communications – Employees appreciate traditional forms of communication around digital roll-outs. This includes face-to-face interaction, dedicated training on the new tools and a clear articulation of how the new digital technology will impact their role at work. Research found that 57 per cent of employees stated that they would have liked more information on how to use new digital technologies.

Simeon Yates, Director, Institute of Cultural Capital: “The UK is one of the most digitally engaged nations in the world with 87 per cent of the population online. Despite this, there are few nationally representative studies on the uptake of technology by the UK workforce. At a time when digital technologies are bringing disruption to many sectors, our research has found that that digital access at work (71 per cent) is lower than at home. This report has found that the key to successful digital roll-outs are the intangible characteristics of culture and leadership, more so than the tangible factors of having access to the right technology. It consequently means that organisations’ ability to become digitally ready is firmly in their own hands.”

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