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Workforce IT Can No Longer Afford to Lag Industry 4.0

IT teams are being asked to improve employee productivity and engagement while lowering costs; fortunately, device fleet telemetry and predictive analytics can help.

ITPro Today

April 22, 2024

6 Min Read
person changing dice reading "3.0" to "4.0"

IT teams are under pressure. Sixty-five percent of U.S. helpdesk teams report unsustainable levels of stress and burnout, and it's easy to understand why. Employees have higher expectations of a seamless tech experience, cybersecurity threats are growing in volume and sophistication, and remote work means more devices outside the office that must be managed and kept compliant. And from my conversations with CIOs, I know they're being asked to cut costs while still improving employee productivity and engagement.

Burnout is a serious problem because IT teams are so vitally important for ensuring their organization is ready for the future of work, keeping up with the pace of technological change, and ensuring staff have the devices, environment, and connected experience they need to perform at their best. As it turns out, only 27% of office workers say their company gives them the right tools to succeed. If organizations can provide employees with the right technology and solutions, they will be able to apply their talents with less friction and make work feel more rewarding. But if companies can't make working for them feel great, they will struggle to attract or retain talent.  

A lot can be learned about how to address the challenges IT teams are facing by considering how other sectors have used "Industry 4.0" technology and ideas to make the leap from scheduled management and maintenance to predictive.

Related:IT Professionals Prioritizing Work-Life Balance, Report Finds

Learning from Industry 4.0

When looking at major infrastructures people rely on, whether it's energy turbines or a manufacturing assembly line, you need a lot more than a helpline or a ticketing system to resolve issues. IoT, telemetry, the cloud, and AI-driven data analytics are all being used to constantly monitor equipment conditions and predict issues before they happen. This prevents downtime and extends equipment lifetime.

A similar mindset should be applied to help companies accommodate today's new work styles and set their workforce up for success, especially given that 49% of employees lose between one and five hours per week dealing with IT issues. Harnessing this strategy enables IT teams to lighten their workload while speeding up remediation and lowering IT costs — without compromising on security, sustainability, or productivity.

Here are three key areas leaders should focus on:

  • Reactive support and responsiveness can be improved by deploying an AI chatbot, which functions across devices, enterprise apps, and HR systems, to help reduce overall support calls and enable teams to prioritize more meaningful work.

  • Proactive support can help accelerate employee time to productivity, such as using Windows 11 and Microsoft Intune to streamline onboarding. A great deal of time can be saved per employee by shipping devices directly to staff and then configuring and managing them remotely.

  • Predictive support can help IT staff resolve issues before they impact users by tapping into the power of a comprehensive platform that is capable of spotting problems ahead of time and automating a solution or fixing the problem remotely.

Related:IT Career Trends and Predictions 2024 From Industry Insiders

HP has already seen massive results by applying this model to our own global workforce across 180 countries, 24 time zones, and 80,000 devices: a 50% reduction in level one support calls, three hours saved per employee for onboarding, and an 84% reduction in the number of issues IT has to deal with manually. As a result, HP has saved millions of dollars because of reduced on-site PC setup and support costs.

Cumulative Benefits from a Predictive Approach

What's particularly interesting is how these strategies add up to more than the sum of their parts when it comes to employee satisfaction, productivity, and IT team efficiency.

For example, when IT teams have access to device telemetry and analytics capabilities, they no longer need to blindly operate a one-size-fits-all four-year refresh cycle. Being able to monitor the whole fleet and individual machines means spending can be targeted where it's needed most to identify where it will have the biggest impact on productivity and engagement for staff.  

This can uncover core, repeating issues — like memory problems that are slowing down machines. Even if the device is just a year old, you know it's so frustrating for staff that you're inclined to replace it. However, if you can spot a memory issue ahead of time and remediate it remotely and automatically, then even better. You're saving time and money as well as making staff happier and more productive simultaneously.

Increasing AI capability and widespread enterprise adoption are only going to make taking an Industry 4.0 approach to workforce IT more valuable and effective because AI massively increases the amount of data you can process, the speed at which you can analyze, and the quality of insights you're able to derive. It's even estimated that AI has the potential to save $183 billion worth of time annually across the IT sector alone. Plus, the natural language interface of generative AI makes querying data and building custom visualizations more intuitive for IT teams, so acting on the insights becomes easier, too. This is how switched-on IT teams can leverage AI effectively to shape what the future of work looks like for their organization. 

Double Down on the Employee Experience, and What You're Best At

Business and IT leaders will benefit from leaning into the employee experience and taking a data-driven approach to measuring and understanding what's working and what isn't — and where the needs, gaps, and opportunities are. Learning from Industry 4.0 means empowering IT teams so they can offer the proactive support that enables businesses to free up capacity and double down on their core competencies.

Leaders must be committed to continually learning and sharing insights more broadly across the industry. Being part of a public dialogue is invaluable because we can all help each other work more effectively, overcome digital friction, and make every day more rewarding for our employees. The businesses that get this right will be well-positioned to recruit and retain top talent and drive business growth, regardless of the market conditions.

John Gordon is President & GM of HP Managed Solutions.

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