Gartner says a high-performance workplace will be essential to business success during next decade
May 23, 2005
Analysts explain why IT must move beyond lowering production costs to enhance non-routine activities
IT needs to reinvent itself from being focused on cost driven initiatives and instead help key employees create higher impact growth objectives that promote business agility through non-routine activities, according to Gartner, Inc.
"Raising productivity by cutting the cost of production time is running out of steam," said Tom Austin, group vice president and Gartner Fellow. "To increase competitive advantage, organizations need to look for opportunities to increase market impact, including value and agility, by investing in a high-performance workplace."
Gartner analysts are discussing the role of skilled workers in creating a high-performance workplace during the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, being held here through May 19. High-performance workplace approaches augment the ability of people to perform non-routine tasks that support or facilitate unstructured, exploratory, creative, teaming, leading and learning activities.
"Businesses must help people deal with non-routine situations, empower individuals and raise the quality and impact of what people do," Mr. Austin said. "This shift is driven by major changes in the nature of work, the skills of the workforce and the upcoming fall off in opportunities for new 'big bang' automation projects."
Gartner is creating a new research focus on the work processes and technologies that enable people to better contribute to the overall success of the enterprise, whether the goal is growth or a need for efficiency. This high-performance workplace research is focused on the unique impact of people on the success of the enterprise and the conditions under which the organization, particularly the IT organization, can enhance their contribution.
As a traditional discipline, IT systemizes and structures. It displaces jobs, even as it creates new industries and new jobs. IT is primarily focused on driving down costs. However, Gartner analysts said enhancing people's ability to discover and innovate drives business.
"IT has been a roadblock to agility, innovation and creativity; it has been anti-creative and anti-collaborative," Mr. Austin said. "The high-performance workplace is focused on the unstructured, on transformational agility, innovation and creativity without losing sight of structured obligations."
Five technologies have a significant role in innovation programs. They include content and knowledge base management, expertise location, search and classification, collaboration support, and business and competitive intelligence.
"Collectively, these technologies provide information access; relationship mapping across multiple sources of information; patterns and trends information; and tools to allow people to find each other, connect and collaborate," Mr. Austin said. "The collective benefits of these technologies can be measured as high productivity, increased idea generation, and improved relevance and quality innovation program deliverables."
A high-performance workplace will enhance the structured and unstructured activities that are key to creating competitive advantage, driving long-term, top-line growth and enhancing productivity.
"High-performance workplace strategies raise the impact of skilled people," Mr. Austin said. "Skilled workers earn more and companies want more from them. Ultimately, the returns from augmenting non-routine activities will exceed the returns we've seen from automating business applications."
Additional information on the high-performance workplace is available in the Gartner Spotlight report Introducing the High-Performance Workplace: Improving Competitive Advantage and Employee Impact The Spotlight includes links to 10 additional reports that provided detailed insight into creating a high-performance workplace. The Spotlight report is available on Gartner's Web site.