There's some perverse comfort in the iSociety report on technology in UK workplaces ... twelve months of research and eight case studies shows that highly-paid executives and private sector staff are struggling. So it isn't just nonprofits - who can't afford the latest kit and training - who have difficulty as others have found. The Guardian reports that in the past, the technology industry made big claims for the productivity gains its products would bring. "But technology is not transformational on its own," says iSociety co-author Max Nathan. "The rhetoric of solutions you hear from the technology industry is particularly corrosive. It implies that you can just stick this stuff on the desk and things will start changing."
What's needed, says Max, is complementary investment in people and processes. He argues for involving employees in the design of systems, and gives examples of complex knowledge management systems unused and even basic email producing problems. He argues for - among other things - compulsory training for the 'lost generation' of managers who know less about technology than their employees. That senior management problem sounds the same as that found in research carried out by LASA for the Baring Foundation, Leading the Way to ICT success, in the voluntary and community sector. More here too in a Journal article I wrote on the subject with Martyn Pearl, and an earlier item on this blog. If you like diagrams, here's one on avoiding the technology trap I did with colleagues for community and nonprofit use. Seems relevant here too. It seems to me that technology does at least three things - 1) it changes the landscape of how we get services and communicate with each other; 2) it gives us another set of tools; and 3) it raises the age old questions of how we deal with change. All these reports conclude that what's important is focussing on 3) and the issues of what people want, how they cope with change, and how we need to reshape collaborations and organisations to deal with 1) and 2). So... is it still useful to focus on e-commerce, e-democracy, e-government? Doesn't that encourage us to look through the technology window on change, when a wider perspective is needed?