The Transformation of Work, released today at the Canadian Telecom Summit in Toronto, is a first of its kind national research study by researchers at Ryerson University, with support from Rogers and Mitacs, that explores the role of mobile technologies and adoption rates in the rapidly evolving Canadian workplace. The report shows that in spite of the potential benefits, many Canadian organizations lack the capacity for adoption. Only half of managers (50 per cent) surveyed had clearly integrated mobile technologies into their business strategy.
The lack of mobile technology adoption is a major business issue that, if left ignored, could have a major impact on productivity and competitiveness for Canadian companies. The report advises that new technologies, including wireless and mobile devices, strong network infrastructure, web-based collaboration tools, Machine-to-Machine (M2M), pervasive and scalable cloud-based IT solutions, as well as analytics and applications can lead to dramatic improvements in productivity, development of new products and services, and more engaged employees and customers.
Transformation of Work reinforces the findings from other reports that suggest that a disjointed approach to managing technologies in Canadian organizations is limiting adoption and impeding productivity and innovation. “Digital technologies have the potential to transform virtually every sector, said Wendy Cukier, Vice President Research and Innovation, Ryerson University and co-author of Transformation of Work. “There is ample evidence that under-investments in technology are impeding growth and productivity improvements. A strategic approach supported by management and operational policies, measurement and a culture embracing innovation are essential. Creating something new does not produce innovation unless it is actually adopted.”
While only half of companies surveyed are integrating mobile technologies into their business strategy, according to the report there are many companies who are leaders in adoption of mobile technologies. These organizations had well-defined mobile strategies linked to corporate objectives and the policies and structures needed to support their implementation and they also reported significant benefits from their use of mobile technologies.
Reasons given for not utilizing mobile technologies to the fullest include challenges with privacy and security concerns, integration with legacy systems, the costs of implementation, and the policies, processes and talent required to implement them effectively.
A key finding in the report shows that businesses are just starting to understand and manage the opportunities in mobile technology and need help to develop management processes that drive value.
Ryerson University understands this important business challenge. Adoption of technologies is a key area of research at Ryerson. Its researchers work with partners to develop next generation technological solutions, but they also explore the strategic, organizational and individual factors affecting their adoption.
“The Ryerson Centre for Cloud and Context-Aware Computing (RC4) partners with industry not just to develop leading edge technology and tools but also to examine the impediments and drivers of mobile technology adoption, and to develop evidence-based strategies to promote them,” said Jarrod Ladouceur, a contributor to the report and project manager of RC4.
Other key findings from the report:
1) Mobile technology adoption is important and growing in Canadian organizations:
- Almost all (96% of) companies are using mobile technologies.
- Canada has a higher rate of smartphone adoption than the United States, yet is behind the US in the adoption of mobile apps in the workplace.
- 70% of Canadian employees are mobile in some way (physically) and this is expected to increase to 73% by 2016.
- The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) estimates that every 1% increase in mobile technology adoption will lead to 0.08% of GDP growth.
2) Mobile technology is clearly impacting and transforming the Canadian work environment:
- Mobile technology is improving access to information and changing the very definition of the workplace.
- The workforce is becoming more mobile and workers increasingly expect flexibility and support for their use of technology.
- Organizations reported improvements in effectiveness, collaboration, and access to information.
- Fewer than 30% of organizations see a clear value proposition for the technology.
- Half of managers reported more research is needed on impacts and metrics.
3) The adoption of mobile technologies is being driven by a number of factors, but understanding and measuring the value remains elusive:
- Change is coming from both the needs of management and the demands of employees.
- There is an unclear return on investment (ROI) for mobile adoption.
- Businesses do not completely understand the potential of the technology as it applies to their workplace — less than 30% of companies saw a clear value proposition for the new technology.
4) Obstacles remain to maximizing the value of mobile technologies in the Canadian workplace:
- Privacy and security concerns are the most talked-about barriers to adoption.
- Mobile technology management has been ad-hoc or opportunistic and differentiated across organizations.
For Canadian companies to reap the full benefits of mobile technologies, Cukier advises, “Canada is preoccupied with the innovation gap and most of our attention has been focused on supporting entrepreneurs and startups that commercialize and develop new technologies and processes – the supply side. Unless these new technologies are actually used, there is no innovation. We need additional focus on understanding the human, organizational and policy issues that affect the demand and adoption of these technologies to drive productivity improvements and global competitiveness.