Guess What? IT and Non-IT Execs Don’t See Tech the Same Way

This will likely not come as a big surprise to all the IT execs out there, but now there’s actual research to back it up: Your company’s executives have a different view of IT than you do.

A lot of IT folks are saying “duh” right now. In your heart, in the deepest recesses of your soul, and in that part of your brain that (hopefully) controls homicidal rages, you’ve always known it. But don’t you want to know how divergent those views are, and even be able to spout off some numbers? Canon has made that possible.

Canon U.S.A. implemented a Workflow Optimization Study, conducted by Harris Poll in May among 211 professionals. The results? Unsurprising but seriously eye-opening findings that show just how differently IT decision-makers and non-IT executives see the importance of integrating cloud, mobile and digital workflow strategies. Here are some of the hard numbers revealed by the survey, in which IT and non-IT executives were asked whether investing in certain technologies was very or extremely important to running their businesses more effectively:

  • 79 percent of IT decision-makers said cloud-based document technology was very or extremely important, while less than half (47 percent) of executives felt the same. (I’d like to see the answer when said exec is on the road and wants to access a critical document from his or her iPad).
  • 77 percent of IT decision-makers said integrating paper-based and digital information into company databases was very or extremely important. 55 percent of non-IT executives felt the same.
  • 71 percent of IT decision-makers said managed print services were very or extremely important. 46 percent of non-IT executives felt the same.

I can visualize all kinds of scenarios for that last result. Maybe the IT folks really understand the streamlined efficiency and cost savings enabled by a managed print program, or maybe they like the idea that fewer printers equals fewer printer problems and less toner under the fingernails — or better yet, they’re fans of that nifty service contract that was hopefully sold along with the managed print contract that keeps in-house IT out of it altogether? And on the other hand, is it the exec who doesn’t want to get rid of the non-networked, super-high CPP color inkjet on his desk, or the laser device in his office?

Another major area of divergent opinions was companies’ Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. Fifty-seven percent of IT-decision makers and just 23 percent of non-IT executives said their companies provide support for all devices and platforms. Once again, I sense a communication issue at play. Is it a matter of support, or a matter of the exec not being able to get email working on his new Galaxy Note Pro or Microsoft Surface?

The good news is, there are areas of agreement as well, and one of the most important is security. According to the study, 65 percent of all professionals cited security breaches as an area of concern in current document workflows. Another area of agreement means good news for print hardware providers — 82 percent of all professionals, IT and non-IT, agree there will still be a need for paper-based workflows in their organizations for at least the next decade. Of course, opinions on the access to that paper also differ – less than half of non-IT executives feel printing information from the cloud is important, and less than half also believe mobile printing is offered by their companies— a big difference from the 67 percent of IT execs who say it is. Ten bucks on who’s right?

If I sound a bit biased in my opinions, I am. While I’m not technically an IT worker, I play one on TV, and I’ve seen more than my share of PEBKAC (Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair) issues. And I can’t help but wonder just how more divergent those opinions would have been had they travelled a little lower in the IT department food chain.

Look for more (less opinionated) coverage of this study and discussion of how companies can start to bridge the communication gap in the September issue of Workflow magazine.