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  1. Hardware
August 25, 2017

Fighting BATs and Promoting Productivity

SnapLogic's Gaurav Dhillon looks at the damaging effect repetitive, manual tasks are having on productivity.

By James Nunns

Ever find yourself searching for that missing document? What about spending an infuriating amount of time rummaging through spreadsheets? We’ve all been there. In fact, our recent research has shown that nine in ten (90%) of us complete tasks at work that they find boring and repetitive. On the face of it, this may seem just a harsh reality of the working world. After all, we can’t always be doing those particular jobs that interest us most. However, when you dig a little deeper it becomes apparent that the impact of these rote, repetitive tasks goes far beyond merely boring and frustrating us – they’re actually having a profoundly damaging effect on productivity.


Britain’s Productivity Pains

It’s been well documented that the UK is deep in the midst of a productivity crisis. UK workers are currently 23 per cent less productive than their French counterparts, and 27 per cent less productive than their German ones.

The problem, unfortunately, doesn’t appear to be fixing itself, either. In fact, it’s only seems to be getting worse. Earlier this month, Office of National Statistics figures revealed that the productivity of Britain’s workers, measured by their output per hour, fell 0.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2016 after a 0.5 per cent fall in the first quarter. The workers of 2017 are actually slightly less productive than those of 2007. Worrying statistics given the importance of productivity for the continued success of businesses and the economy as a whole.

So what do boring jobs have to do with Britain’s poor productivity? Actually, as the second stage of our Disconnected Data research revealed, quite a lot. Our survey of employees in large businesses found that employees are spending on average, 32 minutes a day on jobs such as moving data from one system to another, data entry, searching for data, accessing archived data and data processing and analysis. These minutes, when extrapolated, equate to 19 working days per year per employee. That’s about 12% of an employees’ working year, give or take, being spent on activities which hold no real value for the business. That’s a serious dent in n employees’ productivity.

With modern businesses now regularly operating more and more systems, the burden on employees is only set to increase over the coming years.

Uniting Data to Bolster Productivity

What’s most frustrating about this situation is that these tasks that employees are spending so much time on: data entry, data processing and so on, could be easily automated if better data integration practices were implemented. This is particularly problematic in larger companies where there are likely more systems, more departments and bigger projects than in smaller enterprises.

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Speaking of which, these issues are only compounded by the lack of collaboration seen between different departments in larger companies. Our research shows that four in ten (44%) respondents confirmed there is a lack of collaboration between business departments, while three in ten (30%) have found that different departments are protective of their own systems and data.

Siloed data and lack of collaboration between departments suggest that there’s also a good chance that employees from different departments could be entering the same data but into different systems. This is not only repetition of efforts, but leaves the data itself open to interpretation by different individuals, or in some cases missing all together. Business leaders won’t have a holistic view of the workings of the business if the data remains fractured.

Often heralded as holding the key to better productivity, the fact that data is causing such productivity pains is certainly worrying but not altogether surprising. So what can businesses do to fight back against burdening their employees with these tasks?

Employees are already recognising the need to unite and connect data better, to help reduce inefficiencies and boost the productivity within their organisation. The majority (85%) of respondents in our study stated that separate departments in their organisation need to share data more. Something that would go a long way to begin the integration process and improve the overall productivity of the business.

As the research concludes, data that is not properly integrated can have a huge effect on businesses. Unsurprisingly, nearly two-thirds (61%) of our respondents expressed frustration that projects suffer delays caused by poor data integration. Additionally, our respondents speculate that, if these data gaps were closed, they could see a 28% boost in efficiency.

It’s time for business and IT leaders to step up and address these problems before they become too big to handle. After all, data is the lifeblood of a modern business, it provides valuable insights and fuels their strategies for the future. Having data that flows throughout the organisation not only improves efficiency, productivity and innovation but will ultimately drive growth and improve business results.

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