Unlocking Frontline Worker Potential: Why Enterprise IT Investment Should Prioritise Frontline

Investing in Frontline Worker Technology Solutions as the Key to Enhanced Productivity, Engagement, and Organisational Success in the Digital Age.

frontline worker

Various estimates highlight that frontline workers, who constitute approximately 80% of the global workforce, typically use only about 1% of their organisation’s technology budget. This disparity underscores the pressing need to reassess IT investment priorities to better align with the realities of enterprise workforce composition and the evolving nature of work.

In enterprise IT investments, this prevailing trend often sees a disproportionate focus on back-office functions like finance, procurement, and HR. While these sectors are undoubtedly crucial for business operations, there’s a growing recognition that the actual engine of productivity lies beyond the confines of office walls—in the hands of frontline workers. The reasons for underinvestment in frontline technology solutions are multifaceted:

Historical Lack of Solutions: In the past, there was a scarcity of robust technology solutions tailored to the unique needs of frontline workers. Enterprise mobility was often an afterthought, with most innovations catering for the back office. However, as technology continues to evolve, so do the capabilities to address the challenges mobile workers face.

Read our related article, The Revolution of Frontline Worker Technology: From Wearables to a Neuralink Future?

Engagement and Accessibility: Unlike their counterparts in office settings, frontline workers are not always easily accessible or integrated into their organisations’ technology-driven initiatives. Remote work, by its very nature, presents challenges in communication, collaboration, and training. Overcoming these barriers requires a concerted effort to engage frontline workers and involve them in co-creating solutions that cater to their specific requirements.

High Cost of Technology: Historically, frontline solutions were expensive, making it difficult to justify the ROI; however, technological advancements have changed things for the better. These days, mobile devices are commercially available, bandwidth is cheap and accessible, while solutions, like ODS solutions and accelerators, are more standardised.

The back office is where the initial waves of digital transformation swept through, revolutionising processes and optimising workflows. However, it’s time to shift the spotlight to those who operate on the front lines—the mobile workers, the backbone of countless industries.

While back-office systems have reached a certain level of maturity, the ROI that can be achieved within these domains is limited. At this time, the true potential for innovation and efficiency gains lies in empowering frontline workers with the tools they need to excel. By redirecting investments towards enterprise mobility technologies like wearables for frontline workers, businesses can unlock new avenues for growth and competitive advantage.

Now more than ever, with a significant portion of the workforce operating remotely by design, prioritising frontline workers is critical. To support this assertion, let’s delve into some compelling data and research findings:

Enterprise IT investment should prioritise frontline workers for several reasons rooted in the evolving dynamics of today’s workforce and the transformative potential of technology in enhancing operational efficiency and driving business success.

Despite their crucial roles in retail, manufacturing, healthcare, oil and gas, and other industries, frontline workers often grapple with outdated systems and processes that stifle productivity and dampen employee experience. Reportedly, only 40% of employers believe they have the right technology infrastructure for frontline workers, indicating a significant technological deficit.

Fortunately, employers increasingly acknowledge the necessity of investing in innovative technologies to bolster frontline productivity and efficiency. Research indicates that nearly three-quarters (73%) of decision-makers across industries consider adopting innovative technologies as a critical driver for enhancing frontline work performance.

Frontline worker solutions aim to bridge the gap between traditional office-based roles and frontline operations by increasing worker connection to the business.

Furthermore, the transformative potential of technology in enhancing the employee experience and driving business outcomes is evident. Studies, including the Microsoft Work Trend Index special report, highlight the significant role played by technology in frontline worker job satisfaction and retention.

When equipped with user-friendly, mobile-enabled technologies, frontline workers experience many benefits, including improved productivity, engagement, customer service, collaboration, and real-time performance insights. However, challenges such as selecting the right tools, providing adequate connectivity, and ensuring proper training and support still need to be addressed.

Prioritising technology investments that target the unique needs of frontline workers can yield significant returns. Research findings indicate that organisations with mature digital frontline practices experience double-digit revenue growth year over year, underscoring the correlation between frontline technology adoption and business performance.

According to a Gartner study, organisations investing in mobile technologies for frontline workers can achieve up to 45% productivity gains. This significant potential for efficiency improvement highlights the critical role of technology in frontline operations. Similarly, research by McKinsey & Company has shown a clear correlation between frontline technology adoption and overall business performance. Companies leveraging mobile solutions for field operations experience higher customer satisfaction and faster response times, indicating tangible business benefits.

Despite the clear advantages of prioritising frontline technology, challenges remain in adequately preparing organisations to address associated complexities. A survey conducted by Deloitte revealed that while 72% of executives consider mobile technologies for frontline workers a strategic priority, only 32% believe their companies are adequately prepared to tackle the challenges involved. This gap between strategic recognition and operational readiness underscores the need for comprehensive strategies to bridge the gap.

Addressing the challenges of frontline technology adoption requires a multifaceted approach encompassing technology selection, training, support, and ongoing evaluation. Organisations must engage frontline workers in co-creating solutions tailored to their specific needs, highlight the benefits of frontline worker technology adoption, provide contextually relevant training, and appoint ambassadors to drive adoption.

In conclusion, the need to prioritise frontline workers in enterprise IT investment is clear. Organisations can drive efficiency, agility, and innovation by harnessing technology’s transformative potential to empower frontline workers. As the digital age redefines the modern workplace, investing in frontline technology is a strategic imperative and a pathway to organisational success in an increasingly competitive business landscape.

On Device Solutions is a specialist IT consultancy, SAP Gold, and TeamViewer Partner that provides highly rated enterprise mobility solutions. If you’re interested in comprehensive strategy input and turn-key enterprise solutions for frontline workers, Contact Us Here to learn how your organisation can achieve significant ROI using mobile and wearables.

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