IT Investments Drive Worker OutputIT Investments Drive Worker Output
It's not easy to measure the productivity of a worker or manager. It's also difficult to gauge whether a new business-intelligence application or cell phone is building a healthier bottom line for companies.
June 7, 2002
It's not easy to measure the productivity of a worker or manager. It's also difficult to gauge whether a new business-intelligence application or cell phone is building a healthier bottom line for companies. But despite such difficulties, most business-technology executives agree that technology is generating gains for their companies.
That's why it's not surprising that improving worker productivity is a leading driver of technology purchases, especially considering how important productivity gains are to businesses this year. Of 100 managers working at small companies--businesses with annual revenue of less than $100 million--nine in 10 say boosting worker output is a key business priority. About four in five executives at 100 midsize and 100 large companies say the same thing. Tools that help employees work more efficiently include data-analysis applications, remote-access software, handheld computer devices, and more network bandwidth to guarantee integrated maneuvers, according to a recent survey of InformationWeek readers. Large companies, those with annual revenue of more than $1 billion, are more readily increasing network bandwidth and deploying remote-access software in an attempt to raise worker output. Three in four of the study's 100 large companies say IT divisions are focused on making such changes. Midsize companies are taking the same approach to increase worker efficiency. Of 100 companies that have annual revenue of $100 million to less than $1 billion, two-thirds are investing in additional network bandwidth and tools that allow remote access to business records and files. Data-analysis tools are another popular product that's slated for deployment this year. Almost 70% of large companies are empowering workers by rolling out systems that enable them to pull needed information, while half of small and midsize companies are doing the same. Evaluating the worth of these tools may prove challenging. Executives will need to come to terms with tasks too complex to regulate, and find the resources needed to track performance before these tools' true value can be gauged. Which tools or products will your company deploy this year to boost worker productivity? Let us know at the address below. Helen D'Antoni
Being on the road no longer means being off the company network. Cell phones, handheld computers, and lightweight notebooks have made being tied-in that much easier, and companies are realizing the value of such connectivity. However, among the sites interviewed by InformationWeek Research, small companies are more actively investing in handheld devices for personnel than larger businesses. Of the 100 business-technology executives surveyed at companies with annual revenue of less than $100 million, three in five report plans to distribute handhelds to employees this year. About half of the 100 midsize and 100 large companies interviewed report their IT divisions are implementing such devices.
The drive to increase worker productivity is spilling over into non-administrative and executive functions. Sales personnel are being caught in the fervor of increased worker output. Sales-force automation is appearing on the to-do lists of IT shops as companies look for ways to improve business efficiencies across their entire enterprise. In an attempt to help sales representatives work more efficiently, almost two in five large companies are implementing sales-force automation. More than a third of midsize companies, and one in five small businesses, are doing the same. Beyond assisting a representative's workflow, this strategy benefits companies as a whole by centralizing pertinent client information that can aid other parts of a company, such as marketing.
Fast, effective access to pertinent information improves worker productivity while creating residual benefits such as fostering better decision making and customer service. When the management of database and business-intelligence applications comes into play, a majority of companies are looking beyond their IT divisions to obtain the most out of those applications. Two-thirds of small businesses, three in five midsize companies, and nearly seven in 10 large sites surveyed by InformationWeek Research will look to managed or hosted services to handle the operations of their database or business-intelligence applications in the coming months.
A manager considering ways to boost worker productivity may weigh a number of scenarios, including whether a function should be administered in-house or outsourced to service providers. To ensure database and business-intelligence applications are being put to the best use possible, business and technology executives are frequently choosing to bypass in-house operations. Nearly three in five large and small companies surveyed intend to farm out data-storage management this year. Midsize companies are slightly less keen on external assistance: Slightly more than half of the study's 100 midsize companies plan to rely on outsourcing to handle storage operations.
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