Employee buy-in crucial to digital transformation success

The manufacturing sector is failing to keep the workforce at the heart of its digital transformation, leading to employee dissatisfaction and hindering the success of digitalisation initiatives, new research has found.

Less than a quarter (24%) of manufacturing businesses’ employees react positively to the implementation of new technology, while only 40% appreciate the benefits of new technologies, according to the Connected Enterprise report, produced by digital transformation specialist Nexer in partnership with applied futurist Tom Cheesewright.

The report also shows that 15% of businesses in the manufacturing sector find their that employees are reluctant to embrace new technologies, and 8% of business leaders would like to implement more technology but worry that they will face resistance from employees.

The research suggests that a lack of adequate consultation and education prior to the implementation of new business technologies may be behind employees’ negative reactions.

Tellingly, just 24% of manufacturing companies said that their workforce finds it easy to learn how to use new technologies, while around half (49%) said that some or many of their employees find it a struggle.

Colin Crow, managing director of Nexer, commented: “Only when used correctly and consistently can digital solutions make a tangible difference to business operations and outcomes.

“So while it’s vital to get the C-Suite on board in order to secure funding for exciting new technology in the first place, it’s equally as important that those who will be using the technology day-to-day are convinced of its benefits.

“In order to ensure optimum return on investment, businesses should always take a collaborative approach, explaining to employees the reasons behind any new digital technologies and providing as much support as needed for them to feel comfortable using them.”


According to the research, only 1 in 10 manufacturing businesses’ employees tell them that business technology improves their day-to-day life. Furthermore, 8% said that they regularly receive complaints from employees following the implementation of new technology.

Colin continued: “It’s important to bear in mind that while digital transformation makes companies more profitable, enhances the customer experience and enables them to keep up with competitors, it should also always improve the employee experience.

“If a new technology will not ultimately make the daily responsibilities of employees simpler or more efficient – following the appropriate training – then it is not the right technology for that business, and will likely not be a success in the long term.”