New research reveals lack of investment in latest technology puts greater pressure on workers

firstline worker

New research commissioned by Microsoft, to coincide with today’s launch of Surface Go, the lightest and thinnest Surface ever, has revealed a lack of access to the latest technology, including devices has left over half (55%) of firstline workers – the very people who engage with customers directly – and business managers under pressure to complete their work correctly and on time.

Only one in four (25%) firstline workers and business managers in Australia say access to the latest technology is a benefit provided to everyone in their workplace. A third say their workplace offers outdated devices (19%) – those without wireless network connectivity – or none at all (12%).

The new research findings indicate that workers anticipate distinct advantages from having access to portable devices like mobiles, tablets, wearable tech or laptops in the workplace. In particular, the ability to work anytime, from anywhere, is viewed as a key benefit of connected devices in the workplace. Forty-two per cent of respondents expressed confidence that the most useful aspect of portable devices in their work would be the capacity to access data from different locations.

The technology accessibility gap exists despite those workers with access to the latest connected technology highlighting smarter and simpler tools for daily tasks (56%), streamlining of operations and workflows (47%), and an increase in team work and collaboration within the organisation (41%) as the top three advantages of incorporating such devices into their work routine. In addition, 45 per cent of those who do not have access to the latest devices expect increased employee engagement and satisfaction as one of the major impacts of introducing such tools, along with improved customer service (43%).

Firstline workers and business managers’ also identified expectations of improved communication among staff in their department (39%) and from other departments (38%) from the incorporation of connected portable devices into their workflow.

“Digital transformation is a priority for two out of three global CEOs this year. At the heart of that transformation must be your most valuable asset – your people. Devices like Microsoft’s Surface Go which is now available in Australia from today, have been purposefully designed to improve employee satisfaction and retention by making it easier for workers to work from anywhere at any time, collaborate and express creative ideas and save time. By providing devices that motivate, engage and empower firstline workers, companies are spurring innovation and competitiveness,” said Adam Pollington, Head of Surface Devices Product Marketing, Microsoft.

Digital transformation is reality

The findings of the research shed light on the workforce enablement potential of digital transformation initiatives – including the use of the latest devices – that target firstline workers and the gaps that currently exist. The study is particularly significant given that firstline workers make up the largest part of the global employee base (80 per cent, or two billion people worldwide) yet their voice is often missing in the growing conversation about –  and investment in – digital transformation.

Despite market intelligence firm IDC predicting digital transformation spending will reach $1.7 trillion worldwide by the end of 2019, a 42 per cent rise from 2017, very little investment in digital transformation to date has been directed towards firstline workers specifically. In fact, Gartner says that just 10 per cent of IT mobile and endpoint resources are dedicated to enabling them at present.

“Our research suggests a greater focus on digitally enabling firstline workers will help improve engagement and productivity, at a time when they’re feeling pressured to perform,” said Pollington.

Surface Go set to reshape the role of firstline workers

The Surface Go, Microsoft’s smallest, lightest and most affordable device is now generally available for purchase in Australia. Designed to help firstline workers be more productive, the high-performance device will provide much needed flexibility and portability for firstline workers across industries including retail, manufacturing, public sector and private health and medical services. Its innovative design will provide firstline workers with access to a smarter and simpler tool for daily tasks and empower them to collaborate from anywhere at any time. Surface Go starts at AUD$599 RRP and is available for purchase now from Microsoft Store, JB HI-Fi and Harvey Norman.

The online survey of 1,000 firstline workers and business managers in Australia across industries including retail, manufacturing, public sector, private health and medical services was conducted by research firm YouGov in August 2018. The research defines ‘latest devices’ as any cloud connected device which easily and securely interacts with other devices and networks from anywhere, while an ‘outdated device’ is one without such connectivity or which requires a hard wire or direct line connection.

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