IT managers must empower the information worker

3 Jun 2010

Eighty per cent of Irish firms that have deployed Microsoft’s SharePoint content management system to provide better information flow in their organisations have reported greater business efficiencies, even though they are using less than 50pc of its capabilities.

That’s according to a study of 50 Irish IT managers by Storm Technology, which employs 35 people between Dublin and Galway. A partner in the Microsoft ecosystem, the company has delivered projects for organisations like Forfás and the ESB.

Karl Flannery, CEO of Storm Technology, explains that this study points not only to the untapped potential of the technology but also to a greater need overall by Irish firms to start being clever about what they’re doing with all that knowledge in their business.

In an adverse economy, firms in downsizing mode are discovering to their pain that as people leave or are pushed, out goes vital knowledge, experience and expertise.

But it’s not just that. Are firms actually empowering their workers to be information workers who can create micro-sites and knowledge libraries to boost internal communication and better services to their clients? Or better still, improve workflow so that there are less steps involved and become a more efficient organisation?

The full range of the SharePoint technology’s capabilities include functionality for collaboration, portal, enterprise search, enterprise content management, business process and forms, business intelligence and social computing.

Storm Technology research findings

Specific findings from this research for the capabilities of enterprise content management, business process and forms and portal reveal that, of those businesses surveyed that have actively deployed the forms and business-process automation capabilities, 83pc report improved business efficiencies as a result. Further investigation shows 91pc of firms report time savings as a result of more streamlined processes and 78pc believe their organisation has improved its overall responsiveness.

Another 61pc believe that they have been able to reduce costs for their business and 74pc of organisations believe they have better control over processes and approvals within their business.

Flannery says more Irish organisations should look at ways of streamlining what they do. Using the SharePoint technology, 97pc of the IT managers surveyed by Storm cite improved efficiencies, while 62pc report better use of their workers’ time. The speed with which information can be found and retrieved by end users across all the organisation also rated highly, with 62pc of businesses heralding this as an important benefit.

Less duplication of effort and improved productivity are complemented by increasingly accurate information. Some 69pc of IT managers say a single repository for content has improved the accuracy of information in use across their organisations. Similarly, 88pc see version control as a major business-enhancing feature and 76pc applaud the clear and easy-to-use search and retrieval functionality.

The key to achieving these kind of results, Flannery warns, is involving the people at the core of the business processes – the information workers – and empowering them to make improvements.

“An information worker can do things like create a microsite for a team and do clever things with keywords, tags and even organise news-feeds for their colleagues. They can even provide their colleagues with tremendous document-search capabilities.

“Up to 80pc of the time IT managers are getting business value out of technologies like SharePoint. Now is the time for the IT manager to get back into that investment and drive further efficiencies. It is a quick win and inexpensive to implement,” Flannery says.


John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years