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Digital Skills Evolve Without IT Organization Engagement

While there's less commentary about the challenges of "Shadow IT" projects within the enterprise market, the underlying issues that created this phenomena are still very apparent in the workplace. Bypassing the legacy IT organization is a common practice. It's now somewhat expected.

As many IT workers develop greater technology skills and apply them to advance their careers, savvy digital workers in non-IT departments believe their CIO is out of touch with their technology needs. Less than 50 percent of workers (both IT and non-IT) believe their CIOs are aware of digital technology problems that affect them, according to the latest worldwide market study by Gartner.

The Gartner survey further revealed that European workers said that their CIO is more aware of technical challenges (58 percent) than U.S. workers believe they are (41 percent). Clearly, it's a big problem.

Ongoing Indifference to Legacy IT

"Non-IT workers aren't likely to use the IT help desk as their first source of assistance, and are less likely to believe in the value of their IT organization," said Whit Andrews, vice president at Gartner. "Only one in five non-IT workers would ask their IT department to supply best practices for employing technology."

The survey findings revealed that savvy millennials were less likely to approach internal IT support. About 53 percent of surveyed millennials outside the IT department said that one of their first three ways to solve a problem with digital technology would be to look for an answer on the internet.

Non-IT workers were overall more likely than IT workers to express dissatisfaction with the technologies supplied for their work. IT workers express greater satisfaction with their work devices than do workers outside IT departments.

Only 41 percent of non-IT workers felt very or completely satisfied with their work devices, compared to 59 percent of surveyed IT workers. According to the Gartner assessment, many IT departments will be more successful if they are able to provide solutions that workers say they really need or want.

IT workers feel more confident than non-IT workers at using digital technology. The survey found that 32 percent of IT workers characterized themselves as experts in the digital technologies they use in the workplace. Just 7 percent of non-IT workers felt the same.

Sixty-seven percent of non-IT workers believe that their organization does not take advantage of their digital skills. Moreover, about three in four digital workers either somewhat agree (48 percent) or strongly agree (24 percent) that the digital technology their organization provides enables them to accomplish their work.

The most common types of workplace application used by survey respondents were real-time messaging (58 percent), sharing tools (55 percent), and workplace social media (52 percent).

Generational Differences are Commonplace

However, huge distinctions exist in the workplace. Millennial digital workers are more inclined than older age groups are to use workplace applications and devices that are not provided by their organization -- whether they're tolerated or not by the CIO.

In addition, relative to the total workforce, a larger proportion of millennials consider the applications they use in their personal lives to be more useful than those they are given at work. The survey found that 26 percent of workers between the ages of 18 and 24 use un-approved applications to collaborate with other workers, compared with just 10 percent of those aged between 55 and 74.

Given this backdrop, it's very disconcerting for a CEO that has approved the IT budget for a significant digital transformation investment. If the IT infrastructure is deemed to be inadequate to meet the needs of the workers it's intended to benefit, then this is a major setback for the incumbent CIO. It's one of the key reasons why CIOs are still at risk of being disregarded by Line of Business (LoB) leaders.

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