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May 11, 2015

Accenture: employer/employee digital disconnect ‘worrying’

Employees are generally optimistic about the potential of digital in the workplace.

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The European workforce is optimistic about the possible impact of digital technologies, according to research from Accenture.

57 percent of workers believe digital technologies such as robots, mobile apps, data analytics and artificial intelligence will improve their working experience. This compares to 8 percent who believe they will have a negative impact.

In addition, 50 percent think that digital technology will improve their job prospects while 12 percent think it will limit them. In preparation for the growth in digital, 62 percent of workers are assessing new skills that will be required of them and 64 percent are learning new tools and skills.

There was a generational gap in the results, with 69 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds believing technology will improve the work experience compared to 53 percent over 45. Only 44 percent of those over 45 believe digital will improve job prospects, compared to 56 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds.

The research also revealed that 90 percent of business leaders believe it is important to act now and 48 percent have a digital strategy for talent development.

However, 45 percent believe the lack of digital skills is the biggest obstacle to becoming a digital business and only 34 percent believe they are well-prepared to recruit these skills.

Although 77 percent expect to be a digital business within the next three years, 55 percent do not have a digital strategy to support their overall strategy.

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Leaders were generally conservative about digital, with 61 percent saying they do not want to be a digital leader in their industry. 72 percent of European executives claimed governments had a role to play in promoting digital, comparing to 50 percent in the US. However, only 23 percent believed government actions are supporting new business models and 39 percent believed governments do not have a strategy for doing so.

Despite the optimism of employees, there was also considerable concern. 78 percent claimed that the pressure to keep up with new technologies was a worry, 76 percent are concerned that their employers will track them and 70 percent believe remote working will erode team spirit.

"Europe’s future competitiveness depends on digital skills and the disconnect between business leaders and their employees is worrying," said Bruno Berthon, managing director, Accenture Strategy.

Bethon added: "With employees positive about the impact of digital on their work, CEOs should begin to experiment with new digital talent strategies today as they develop longer term plans. Companies cannot afford to wait and see, but must act now before their competitors disrupt their markets with digitally savvy workforces."

"Digital will play to different strengths in different people," said Céline Laurenceau, managing director, Accenture Strategy. "The millennial generation may be more tech savvy, but older workers may be better attuned to new forms of collaboration, management and the provision of training. Employers need to ensure their digital talent strategies take these differences into account as they transform their workforces."

The research polled over 2500 workers and 500 business leaders in the European Union.

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