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We live in an age where technology plays a central role in every aspect of our lives; even in the work that we do. This has led to several trends within the workplace such as IoT and BYOD. But, despite the evolution in technology and the simplification of tasks, there still seems to be a problem with productivity.

This isn’t just a second or third world problem. The gap between technology and productivity is prevalent even among the world’s largest economies.

There is no doubt that the transformation that technology brings to the business arena is tremendous. This is accepted unanimously. However, there are no dividends on the productivity end of the spectrum despite such a transformation.

The numbers

In the US, the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that productivity grew only by .2% in 2016 and the overall growth for the last 6 years was at a paltry .5%.

In contrast, IT spending had grown by 4% in the same period and is predicted to maintain that growth for the next 5 years as well.

So, if IT spending is up, why is productivity down?


It all simply boils down to something called “complexity”. Technology is growing at a rapid rate and many of the investments made are usually in the arena of technologies known for being highly transformative. Examples would include IoT, Cloud, Analytics, and Software as a Service.

These technologies, though efficient and effective, are also quite complex and that’s where the problem takes root.

Sadly, complexity isn’t something that can be measured quantitatively. However, experts such as Chris Witeck, Principal Technology Strategist at Citrix, have been able to make observations about complexity via qualitative studies.

When presented with the question of how the evolution in business workflows impacted users, professionals from various sectors responded with more or less the same experiences.

For instance, in the health sector, digitizing patient records was seen as a “frustrating” requirement. Doctors complained that they spent more of their time interacting with a digital interface than a patient. There were also complaints about how technology was actually taking time away from patients, which is the exact opposite of what health experts want.

Similar feedback came from other fields such as education, where teachers felt burdened with learning how to use a range of technological tools to carry out online education. Many of them actually see technology as a barrier.

The key challenge here is to identify areas where manual involvement from the user takes place. Users want to avoid playing an active role in furthering digital transformation. This is especially true for users who are technologically challenged. They want technology to take care of itself and make their life easier.

Hopefully, the advent of IoTs will change this. IoT reduces complexity by connecting users and their devices. The data generated allows developers to understand more about the user and how they interact with technology. This leads to a better understanding of how interactive workflows can be developed to minimize user interaction.