The grass is always greener on the other side of the cubicle. Or, in the case of the American office worker, the software is always newer, faster, and more efficient.
"[In offices] there's a general perception that workers in other industries—no matter what the sector is, from local government and small business to major enterprise companies—have better technology," said Mike Fitzmaurice, vice president Nintex, a Seattle-based software automation firm. "But it's not really true!" he exclaimed, adding that a broad swath of American workers believe that company-mandated software is rarely adequate.
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In October Nintex asked 600 American public and private sector office workers about how they use software to work, as well as their perception of how office workers in other industries use software. The results demonstrate that a majority of workers believe company-issued software is not enough to get the job done. "There are a lot of divisions and differences between how people work," Fitzmaurice said, "but about 20 percent of respondents from all sectors referred to their [company] technology as 'antiquated.'"
Employees, said Fitzmaurice, believe themselves better equipped at keeping up with rapid technological innovation than companies and are solving problems using a mixture of personal mobile and desktop applications. The survey confirmed that 50 percent of government employees and 47 percent of private workers use one or two personal mobile applications for work.
According to Fitzmaurice, these might be positive indicators. "Employees are using unique [tech] tools to solve local problems," he said. "We found that the best IT departments acted as coaches, not cops. [Departments] and workers learn from each other."
The report found a number of other positive technology signs. Most respondents felt optimistic about IT growth in 2017. Only 11 percent of respondents felt IT budgets would go down, and 30 percent believed tech budgets would rise in the coming year.
Additionally, the survey found that:
- A majority of survey respondents in both the public and private sector agreed that modern technology in the office is on the rise but is not sufficient for all work tasks.
- Employees use multiple mobile applications to get work done. A small number—about 11 percent—of employees in the private sector use a large number—more than 11—personal apps for work.
- The cloud is here. Most companies leverage cloud computing in some way. The report found that only 12 percent of private and 15 percent of public workers reported still running all business operations on premise.
- Collaboration is king. Efficient communication and collaboration tools are critical. According to the survey 44 percent of public workers and 29 percent of workers list collaboration tools as a top, or "imperative," priority.
- IT automation saves valuable time. A whopping 42 percent of public employees and 22 percent of private workers reported spending more than half their time on administrative tasks.
Cloud computing improves efficiency in all sectors and is slowly gaining momentum. 34 percent of private workers and 25 percent of public workers said that half or all business processes are run in the cloud.
Workflow automation is another rising trend, survey respondents said. 38 percent of private sector workers and 44 percent of government workers expressed enthusiasm about task and process automation. Tools that improve automation and collaboration were the number one technology priority for public sector employees.
What the survey really demonstrates, Fitzmaurice said, is a host of reasons for tech sector workers to be optimistic. "Tech employees are all looking for better ways to work together. Smart companies use the cloud and automation to prioritize IT spending and make it easier for workers to collaborate."
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Dan Patterson has nothing to disclose. He does not hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Dan is a Senior Writer for TechRepublic. He covers cybersecurity and the intersection of technology, politics and government.