Lack of IT support negatively impacting manufacturing workers’ attitude to technology

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A lack of support from their company’s IT department is having a detrimental impact on manufacturing field workers’ attitudes towards – and confidence with – technology, while also endangering the success of digital transformation initiatives, new research has found.

With the nature of their work meaning that they are rarely at the office, digital solutions can be an effective way of improving field workers’ communication with the rest of the business, as well as improving efficiency and productivity.

However, the data, published in WorkMobile’s The Forgotten Workforce report, revealed that although 63% of manufacturing professionals use some form of digital technologies while out in the field, many remain unconvinced of their usefulness. 

When asked to describe their feelings towards the roll out of new technologies many seemed apprehensive, with more than a third (46%) saying that they are generally reluctant to embrace them, and 22% believing that they can cause problems if they’re not implemented carefully.

Some of this may be linked to a lack of support from the business during the roll out, with 27% of those surveyed saying that they don’t feel they are given enough help and support when they are expected to start using a new piece of technology or digital solution. 

Not only is the lack of attention having an impact on employee morale, but it also means that the technologies used are not necessarily having the desired impact on business operations, rendering any attempts at digital transformation within field service less effective than they should be.

Very few manufacturing field workers (14%) said that technology enhances their day-to-day life, and 18% even said that it prevents them from doing their job to the best of their ability. Just over half (55%) said that they improve efficiency and productivity – two of the key benefits of carefully chosen and implemented digital solutions – and under one in 10 (9%) think that it positively impacts customer relationships. 

However, the good news is that only 5% of manufacturing field workers think that the traditional way of operating is more effective, while 41% of respondents said that they appreciate the benefits of new technologies, suggesting that the situation could be improved, provided the right tools are implemented with a good level of support and guidance from elsewhere in the business. 

Colin Yates, chief support officer at WorkMobile, commented: “It’s important to remember that while digital transformation should make companies more profitable, enhance the customer experience and enable them to keep up with competitors, it should also always improve the employee experience. 

“If a new technology will not ultimately make the daily responsibilities of manufacturing employees simpler or more efficient (following the appropriate training), then it is not the right technology for that business and will likely not be a success in the long run.”

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