The enterprise could be facing a growing number of self-professed “tech-savvy” users, according to an Intel Canada-sponsored survey released recently by research firm Harris/Decima.
The poll found that 10 per cent of the 503 respondents (culled from Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal) considered themselves “tech-savvy.” Laptops and digital cameras contributed to consumers feeling more “tech-savvy.”
Doug Cooper, country manager for Intel Canada, said that at-home adoption of technology will be helpful in the enterprise. “This will make it easier—(those who use technology at home) will be able to use technology more capably at work,” he said. These skills can extend especially to the Web 2.0 applications that have been slowly seeping into the enterprise space, such as posting to Internet sites, social networking (via popular sites like Facebook), and instant messaging. “These can be tweaked for a business environment,” said Cooper, “But beginning with confidence is a positive step.”
Yet over-confidence can also cause problems for IT staff called upon to help enterprise workers. Brendan Leddy manned the help desk for over two years at the University of Victoria while working on his computer science degree, and has seen the change in the way students—and future enterprise employees—interact with technology.
“It’s becoming more of a problem. People are now pretty stubborn,” he said. “They ‘know’ what the problem is, and the something that happened isn’t their fault. It’s your fault.”
It’s becoming more of a problem. People are now pretty stubborn. They ‘know’ what the problem is, and the something that happened isn’t their fault. It’s your fault.Brendan Leddy,>TextIT managers need to be flexible with these new technologies, and work with the “tech-savvy” attitude that goes with it, Cooper said. “The biggest issue is that IT management needs to reset their expectations,” according to Cooper, who said that the different ways of communicating and working that go along with those technologies need to be integrated into business strategies and not butted against. For example, an employee forbidden to use Facebook at work could be missing out on industry networking opportunities.
Learning by example can be helpful. IT staff and management can try and stay ahead of the Web 2.0 curve by paying attention to what does and doesn’t work. Cooper compared it to the learning curve of e-mail etiquette.
The prevalence of Web-based interfaces—even in the more in-depth enterprise applications—should also ease the learning curve for these workers, according to Cooper. This should aid in disseminating everything from CRM to ERP systems from the top-down to those on the ground.
Leddy, who is now working in the private sector as a developer, agreed, saying, “It’s easier for them to navigate interfaces with that kind of abstract knowledge, which is also helpful with systems.”
One way to help those in the workplace who don’t consider themselves tech-savvy would be to ask those who do to act as ambassadors in the workplace that could help implement more cutting-edge technologies, and aid those who might be daunted by them.
This could be useful, as the IT staff itself might not be trained in dealing with the more uppity employees. Leddy said that during his recent computer science university training, very little emphasis was placed on dealing with people. “A lot of computer science students could probably do with more people skills,” he said.