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UK Employees Failing to Understand Digital Transformation

April 9, 20194min

New research among British businesses examining employees’ attitudes toward digital transformation, innovation, and cutting-edge technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, reveals confusion about the true meaning of ‘digital transformation’ and a high degree of scepticism about their employers’ appetite for digital innovation.

The research, conducted by YouGov amongst employees at 500 businesses with 50 or more employees, on behalf of Cherwell Software, reveals that 57 percent of employees don’t know the correct meaning of ‘digital transformation’: 20 percent of respondents could not hazard a guess at its meaning, and 12 percent thought it meant moving to a paperless office.

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.

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 nine 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.

“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, Vice President of EMEA sales for Cherwell.

“Unless business leaders bring their teams along with them on this journey British organisations are likely to fail and our ability to compete in the global market place will be severely compromised.”

Mixed reaction to Artificial Intelligence

Meanwhile, reactions to adoption of AI in the workplace were mixed: 34 percent of employees were confused (five percent), threatened (21 percent), or saddened ( eight percent); 20 percent were optimistic (16 percent) or excited (four percent); 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 six 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.

Andre Cuenin, Chief Revenue Officer at 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.”


Paul Ainsworth

Paul Ainsworth

Experienced Irish journalist and former newspaper editor now helming executive editorial duties with Customer Experience Magazine, the UK's premier online source for Customer Experience news, features, and opinion, along with its sister site, CXM World.


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