Growth businesses face a skills shortage when it comes to their employees getting the most out of new technology.
One fifth of staff in medium-sized businesses say they don’t have the skills to reap the benefits of new technology their employers have invested in, according to IT solutions provider Aruba.
Aruba surveyed 2,700 medium-sized business employees around the world for attitudes as to how employers are using technology.
Medium-sized business employees (over 100 and fewer than 1,000 employees) are the most vocal when they say this new technology “requires too much time to learn.”
Medium-sized companies are also in a bind when it comes to cybersecurity and data protection. While their employees are more conscious of their organisation’s cybersecurity than large corporates (59 per cent said they think about it ‘all the time’ compared with 51 per cent at the largest employers), they are also more likely to be reckless with security – nearly three quarters (74 per cent) said they had taken risks with company data in the past year. Infractions included sharing work devices, using non-approved devices and apps, and writing down passwords.
Worryingly, medium-sized business employees are more likely than any other group to think that data security is the responsibility of their IT department and not themselves. Less than half (48 per cent) said that security was the responsibility of “every employee”, much lower than the largest employers (66 per cent). More than a quarter (26 per cent) said that security was the IT department’s responsibility, compared with 20 per cent at smaller and larger employers.
Morten Illum, VP of EMEA at Aruba said: “For medium-sized businesses to realise the full value of their investments and eliminate the risks, their leaders must ensure employees are given the training and support needed to make both productive and safe use of the new tools.”
Growth businesses ahead
However, medium-sized businesses provide a better tech-enabled working environment than larger competitors. Almost two thirds of medium-sized business employees (63 per cent) rated the choice of technology, applications and IT support either good or very good. This compares with 53 per cent of those employed by the largest companies.
And medium-sized businesses are ahead of large companies when it comes to using cutting-edge cloud technology or voice-activated search such as Alexa or Cortana.
Almost half (49 per cent) of medium-sized business provide cloud-storage software to their employees. Around a quarter (24 per cent) had invested in cloud storage within the last 12 months, compared with 17 per cent of large firms.
Thirty-nine per cent of medium-sized company employees said their employers had invested in cybersecurity in the last year (31 per cent for large businesses).
And 27 per cent employ sophisticated audiovisual technology, such as smart speakers, compared with 16 per cent of smaller businesses and 22 per cent of the largest employers.
Nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) said that were allowed to use personal laptops, tablets and mobiles at work, well ahead of large employers (53 per cent).
Consequently, two thirds of those at medium-sized businesses (66 per cent) rather their work environment as either good or very good, compared with 57 per cent for those at the biggest companies.
But the pressure to remain abreast of new technology is felt more keenly at medium-sized businesses, with two thirds saying their organisation was “at risk of falling behind our competitors” by not implementing the latest tech (63 per cent at the largest employers).
Morten Illum, VP of EMEA at Aruba said: “Medium-sized businesses have a distinct opportunity. Though often forgotten in the digital transformation conversation – with the focus instead on how large companies are struggling to adapt or smaller businesses are seizing the ability to scale – it is medium-sized businesses whose employees show the agility and willingness to make better use of technology and understanding of the opportunities it brings. The key is enabling them to do so. But with that comes a certain degree of security risk.”
Increased technological change
Medium-sized business employees want their employers to both accelerate the pace of technological change, and also take more control of the process.
An above-average 38 per cent of medium-sized business employees want their organisations to provide more cloud-storage software and 44 per cent advocated more cybersecurity software.
More than three quarters (77 per cent) believe that “if not managed correctly, the introduction of new technology could damage employee morale”, while 78 per cent think that their employers’ management and control of connected devices in use could be improved.
As for the future, more than two thirds (67 per cent) think that technological advances will render traditional offices obsolete (60 per cent at the largest employers); three quarters (75 per cent) believe that the workplace should be fully automated, with temperature and lighting controlled by AI; and, looking even further ahead, 58 per cent believe that augmented and virtual reality will become the norm within a decade.