UK Employees Don't Understand the Meaning of Digital Transformation
April 23, 2019
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More than half of employees surveyed either don’t know (20%) or misinterpret (37%) the meaning of "digital transformation" according to a survey by YouGov, commissioned by Cherwell Software.

The research reveals that 57 percent of employees don’t know the correct meaning of "digital transformation," 20 percent of respondents couldn’t hazard a guess at its meaning and 12 percent thought it meant moving to a paperless office.

Other Key Findings:

■ 64 percent say their employers only adopt new technology once it enters mainstream adoption

■ 9 percent of employers are considered "digital innovators"

■ Mixed reactions to artificial intelligence: 34 percent negative, 21 percent positive and 30 percent in between

■ 42 percent of employees think their businesses do not integrate data and processes across departments well

This research focuses on the view from the workforce itself and its findings go a long way to explain why the 2018 Dell Digital Transformation Index placed the UK in 17th place in its adoption of digital transformation, lagging way behind emerging countries like India, Brazil and Thailand.

“It’s obvious that not enough time is being devoted to communicating with employees to develop their understanding and involvement in the process of digital transformation,” said Oliver Krebs, VP of EMEA sales for Cherwell. “Unless business leaders bring their teams along with them on this journey British organizations are likely to fail and our ability to compete in the global market place will be severely compromised.”

In a further blow to the image of UK businesses, the survey highlights a reluctance to adopt cutting edge technology. According to the survey just 9 percent of businesses are viewed by their workforce as being digital innovators, whilst 64 percent of employers only take on new technology after it has become widely available.

Mixed Reaction to AI

Meanwhile, reactions to adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace were mixed: 34 percent of employees were confused (5%), threatened (21%) or saddened (8%), 20 percent were optimistic (16%) or excited (4%), and 30 percent were intrigued — suggesting once again that leadership teams have not effectively communicated and engaged their team in the adoption of new technology.

Cross-Departmental Integration

Central to the success of most digital transformation projects is ensuring a consistent and integrated approach to the use of processes and data across all departments. Yet the survey reveals that just 6 percent of businesses' data and processes are very well integrated across all departments and 42 percent have not integrated inter-departmental data and processes well.

Commenting on the findings Andre Cuenin, Chief Revenue Officer of Cherwell said, “The research demonstrates that UK businesses still have a lot to learn in terms of planning and implementing digital transformation and their adoption of new technologies like artificial intelligence if they want to shed their image of digital innovation followers. The deep level of confusion and miscommunication amongst employees must be addressed by industry leaders. This may be due to the fact that digital transformation is frequently pigeon-holed as an IT issue, whereas in reality it should be seen as an initiative that involves everyone across the business, from the board, down to the most junior employee.”

Methodology: Independent research company YouGov was commissioned to conduct online research among employees at 501 GB companies with 50 or more employees. The research was conducted between Jan 31 and Feb 4, 2019 and was carried out online.

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