Majority of customer-facing employees shut out of digital transformation

Elizabeth Barry 26 September 2017

employees

New research from Microsoft reveals only one-fifth of "firstline" workers are included.

Microsoft has today released research that highlights how firstline employees, defined as customer-facing or product-handling, are being left out by their companies' digital transformation endeavours.

The survey of 1,390 employees in retail, manufacturing, health and financial services found that only 21% of firstline workers are included in digital transformation initiatives. A further one-third (33%) are not involved in initiatives but would like to be.

A growing number of businesses have been embracing digital initiatives, but many are not doing enough to include employees in their strategies.

“There’s obviously room for improvement in all sectors and all scales of business. By engaging firstline workers from the get-go, enterprises will be better positioned for success," said Ian Heard, general manager of Digital Workplace & Collaboration at Microsoft Australia.

“Digital transformation is powerful but everyone needs access. Firstline workers are the key to the next wave of successful digital transformation and sustained competitiveness – they must be part of the program.”

A successful digital transformation initiative will need to be rolled out successfully to the entire organisation, but the research shows this will not be the case with many businesses.

More than one-third (36%) of firstline workers say their organisation isn't effective about communicating digital transformation initiatives and 39% don't have a clear idea of what their organisation is doing with such initiatives.

However, while firstline workers feel left out of the loop when it comes to digital transformation, they appreciate its benefits. The survey found that 84% of firstline workers agreed that technology can help streamline processes while 82% said technology was key to unlocking inefficiencies.

“Organisations that engage firstline workers in their digital transformation initiatives – ensuring that these programs are inclusive, simple and effective, supporting firstline creativity and teamwork while preserving enterprise and employee security – will be better placed to succeed with their strategic priorities."

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