We all have aspects of our jobs that we’re not quite so enthusiastic about. Whether it’s compiling reports, giving presentations or attending networking events, more often than not we dislike these tasks not because they’re unnecessary or boring, but because we’re perhaps not so naturally adept at them. In reality, only by confronting those tasks we find uninteresting or feel less comfortable with do we actually improve our skillsets, grow professionally and increase our input to the business as a whole. No pain, no gain, after all.
However, when highly-trained employees are forced to perform tasks that add no value, this dynamic shifts. The second part of our Disconnected Data research, on Productivity Pains, has revealed that many business users and IT workers are being burdened with tasks that not only do they find boring and repetitive, but are actually having a significantly damaging effect on productivity.
All in all, these Boring Automatable Tasks (BATs) are being performed by nine in ten of the business users we surveyed, and businesses are wasting 24 working days a year per employee by asking their skilled employees to perform these rote tasks.
So what exactly falls into the BATs barrel? Tasks such as data entry, searching for data, accessing archived data, and data processing were signalled as the most burdensome BATs by our respondents. All tasks that should, in 2017, be easily automatable.
The Productivity Impact
With large businesses wasting so many man hours per employee, these tasks are also severely impacting productivity on a nationwide level.
It’s no secret that the UK is mired in a productivity crisis. British workers are currently 23 percent less productive than their French counterparts, and 27 percent less productive than the German workforce. Whilst BATs are certainly not the only factor at play in this issue, they’re clearly still a significant one. It’s highly unlikely that this productivity issue will resolve itself.
Last month, the Office of National Statistics released figures which revealed that the productivity of the UK’s workers, measured on their output per hour, fell 0.1 percent in the second quarter of 2016 following 0.5 percent fall in the first quarter. This means that the workers of 2017 are actually slightly less productive than those of 2007.
Considering the technological advances that have been made in the past 10 years, it begs the question – why are these tasks being performed manually, and why are businesses sacrificing nearly a month’s worth of workdays per employee every year?
Disconnected Data Strikes Again
Whilst the first stage of our Disconnected Data research revealed how siloed data and a lack of collaboration is hindering innovation and costing organisations billions, the second stage revealed that disconnected data is the root cause of these productivity pains and BATs, and it’s frustrating workers. In fact, 64% of our respondents pointed to poor data integration practices as an issue affecting productivity.
[easy-tweet tweet=”On average, large organisations use seven different business apps and systems regularly” hashtags=”Business, Data, App”]
This shouldn’t be especially surprising when one considers how many applications and systems, and departments and regional business units, are involved in large businesses such as the ones we surveyed. Nearly all of our respondents (98%) indicated that they were involved in projects that rely on company data from multiple systems and departments.
On average, large organisations use seven different business apps and systems regularly, with IT decision makers typically using more than business users (eight compared to five). Companies in the financial services sector use even more, clocking in an average of nine apps.
With data not properly integrated this means, inevitably, that much of this painstaking work will have to be done by an employee or employees. This, of course, is not the most efficient means of performing this kind of task, and it certainly doesn’t help with employee morale. Unsurprisingly, nearly two-thirds (61%) of our respondents expressed frustration that important projects often suffer delays caused by poor data integration.
Integration and Efficiency
It’s no coincidence then that, with nine in ten business users forced to spend time on BATs, the same proportion (91%) see connecting data, applications and systems as a beneficial move for their organisation. In fact, over a third (likely the most heavily involved with BATs) see it as essential. Additionally, our respondents speculate that if these data gaps were closed, they could see a 28% boost in efficiency.
Our research has shown that the impact of disconnected data on productivity is a powerful one, and could have immediate benefits for businesses if addressed. However, there’s a longer-term story at play here. AI and automation are set to be two of the key business technologies for the future and, although nascent, promise to revolutionise job roles and how businesses operate. If organisations want to be prepared to embrace this AI future, they’d be wise to get their house in order now, rather than playing catch up further down the line.