By Daniel Hunter

Canon UK, leader in imaging solutions, has identified a gap in communication and understanding between those making office IT purchasing decisions and the needs of end-users. The division, outlined in a new pan-European study into office technology trends, threatens to limit the value organisations are able to glean from long-term IT investments.

The independent report, commissioned by Canon Europe, involving a survey of 1,671 end-users and decision-makers, and 60 in-depth interviews, was designed to help office equipment buyers and influencers make informed buying decisions.

Despite the effort being made to reduce paper use in organisations, the survey found that printed and electronic documents are still central to our working lives. However, the way employees want to create and manage them is changing due to increased flexibility of working arrangements, with mobile connectivity and consumerisation of IT being the key drivers.

According to the research, organisations across Europe struggle to provide technology that enables seamless work on the move, with a significant minority equipping employees with smartphones or tablet PCs; even though those already using them believe they are critical in enabling them do their job.

The majority of respondents also indicated they need advice and support from IT departments to be able to fully optimise productivity when working in or outside of the office. Only a quarter feel they understand the full capabilities of their office equipment meaning that the benefits are not effectively communicated. The research also reveals that instead of being involved, employees feel excluded when it comes to choosing the technology purchased on behalf of the company.

“Technology is constantly evolving to meet user’s needs. In today’s offices, this is happening faster than ever with new working practices fuelling the change,” comments Matt Wrighton, European & UK Marketing Manager, Canon Europe.

“For organisations to maintain a productive workforce, it’s important they feel their needs are catered for. Making decision makers aware of user requirements is key to identifying the right IT equipment; the next step is to educate end-users to ensure it is used to its fullest capabilities.”

Maintaining security when handling documents is also an issue that highlights the divide between what end-users expect and what IT departments provide. Over two-thirds of office staff interviewed work with confidential or sensitive documents, but allow them to be printed on openly accessible devices. Users assume their organisation is effectively managing document security when in fact fewer than five per cent of decision-makers said security was a factor when choosing printing, copying or scanning hardware.

“It’s clear to see how the division within organisations between the two key parties — decision-makers and employees — will, if not already, prove harmful to productivity in the workplace,” continues Wrighton.

“To close this gap and to ensure the value from IT investments is realised, end-users need to have greater influence on the buying process. Engaging with customers to better understand their wants and needs early on in the process means buyers can tap into previously unused potential and remain one step ahead.

“With this process working effectively, the productivity of an organisation has the potential to be greatly improved, leading to better return on investment in IT solutions and better profits for the business overall.”

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