Only 1 in 4 Uses IM at Work, Says Study

As someone who covers cutting-edge tools for WebWorkerDaily, it’s very tempting to think that everyone uses the kind of technology that we rave about every day. Clearly that’s not the case, but some figures in a new Forrester report, “The State Of Workforce Technology Adoption: US Benchmark 2009,” which surveyed 2,001 U.S. information workers, in companies of 100 or more employees, really surprised me. For example, according to the study, one out of every five information workers shares a computer:

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Also very surprising is the low take-up of collaborative software, like video conferencing tools, document sharing and even IM:

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Email is obviously still king when it comes to collaboration in most workplaces (a topic I wrote about for GigaOM Pro, sub required, in “Email: The Reports of My Death are Greatly Exaggerated“), but I was shocked by the IM stats. According to the study, only about 25 percent of workers use IM at all — and only about 10 percent use it on a daily basis. Is corporate America that far behind the curve? It’s not like IM is a new thing. Obviously there are concerns about employees “goofing off” on company time, but surely the productivity benefits outweigh that risk.

This low adoption rate of collaborative technologies is even more surprising given that the same study reveals that one in three of the workers surveyed telecommutes at least some of the time. Part of the reason behind this low takeup might be that the workers surveyed seem very change-averse — according to the study, only 10 percent would be happy to see their word processor changed, for example.

The figures revealed in this report represent a serious opportunity for vendors in the corporate sector — if they can penetrate a market that is obviously reluctant to embrace new productivity-enhancing tools. If only one in 10 workers is currently using video conferencing on even a monthly basis, for example, there is plenty of room for the sector to grow substantially in the future. No wonder there are so many companies currently jockeying for position in the market. It’s up to vendors to create tools that demonstrate clear productivity benefits, can be slotted into current working practices and are very easy to use.

If this report is any indication, few businesses are taking advantage of the productivity-boosting technologies and tools that many of us take for granted. If you work for such an organization, maybe it’s time to demonstrate how much more efficient it could be if it adopted just a few of these tools.

Are you also surprised by these figures? Do you believe that they’re representative of corporate America?


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