- Among companies who've outfitted their front-line workers with tech tools, 72% saw productivity rise "at least moderately," according to a survey of 464 executives published by the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services and tech company ThoughtSpot released Tuesday.
- Communication and collaboration tools (55%), self-service analytics (54%), and AI tools (41%) constitute the top three tool categories that early adopters expect their front-line workers to use over the next two years.
- Three in 10 respondents cite difficulties stemming from front-line employees' lack of skills to use tech-driven insights. Currently 46% of businesses say they're building tech skills among their front-line workers.
As the pandemic puts front-line workers in the spotlight, a window opens up for vendors to provide tools that can increase their efficiency.
Companies including Microsoft — through a dedicated software bundle for front-liners — and Google, with Chrome Enterprise and Google Cloud, have begun to tailor tech solutions to the needs of front-line workers.
Earlier this year, Microsoft added a set of features to its 365 package, providing workers access to a walkie-talkie-like system built into Microsoft Teams and streamlined access management features and real-time task tracking. Retailers Mattress Firm and IKEA were among the first to adopt the new features.
To get to a streamlined future, one challenge awaiting companies is the level of IT literacy among front-liners, which "might not be as high as with knowledge workers," said Leif-Olof Wallen, research VP at Gartner, in an interview with CIO Dive.
Training workers successfully in the use of tech tools will unlock an augmented workforce for managers, so long as robust data infrastructure is in place to power technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Success of tool adoption will depend on availability of digital services, currently under the strain of unprecedented traffic levels as work and life shifted online.