The number of intelligent workers is set to increase sharply over the next five years, according to Coleman-Parkes research commissioned bu Ricoh.
Only 4% of business leaders surveyed describe their employees as intelligent workers who are defined as reliable and skilled employees who have 24/7 access to all the information necessary to meet business and client needs.
“Those same business leaders predict that situation will change significantly over the next five years,” says Richard Pinker, MD of Ricoh SA. “Thirty-seven percent of them believe that the majority of their workforce will be intelligent workers by 2018.”
Acceleration of intelligent workers may be connected to the growing consequences of ineffective information sharing. When asked to rank the areas that have been impacted the most, business leaders cited lost revenues in first place (49%), followed by lost customers (43%) in second and a lack of customer insight (27%) in third.
Yet there remain challenges to be addressed before the intelligent worker can gain traction in businesses. While almost three quarters of businesses are investing in new technologies to improve employee productivity inside and outside of the office, the majority highlight the need to review existing processes so that employees can access business critical information more easily.
Over 70% believe the inability to access documents from a mobile device is holding their business back, while two-thirds say that unsuitable search functions are preventing employees from finding the information they need to help the business move forward. In addition, 62% say that disjointed information silos are hindering the sharing of information.
“While the population of intelligent workers is set to rise significantly the question remains: are businesses ready?” asks Pinker.
“Business leaders are more aware than ever before of the need to further optimise the way they use technology and eliminate the information silos occurring across the business. There is an urgency to review and change traditional ways of working and keep up with technology-led change, which will continue to bring new challenges.”
Business leaders highlight the most important next steps to enable the acceleration of the intelligent worker. Activities most effective in enhancing employee knowledge are (ranked first) making use of collaboration tools: enabling collaboration and knowledge sharing in multiple locations.
This is followed by optimising business processes (joint second): reviewing the way employees work and ensuring technology is being used for maximum benefit, alongside making the transition to the cloud.
In fourth spot, leaders ranked the digitisation of hard copy documents: ensuring better access to current and historical business critical information, which aids future decision making. Such actions will bring significant benefits for businesses.
Research from McKinsey highlights that companies with higher concentrations of knowledge workers (above 35% of the workforce) create, on average, returns per employee three times higher than those of companies with fewer knowledge workers (20% or less of the workforce).
“Now is the time for organisations to optimise critical business and document processes to prepare more effectively for the future. With greater innovations and technology led-change on the way, the establishment of the intelligent worker as a more informed workforce is essential to realising business growth, improved business agility, efficiency, productivity and responsiveness to client needs,” says Pinker.