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Majority of Workplaces Impacted by Widespread Complexity

Majority of Workplaces Impacted by Widespread Complexity

Majority of Workplaces Impacted by Widespread Complexity : Today’s workforce is more connected, collaborative and dynamic than ever before. But these connections have created an unprecedented degree of workplace complexity that is adversely impacting business success, according to the Simplifying the Future of Work survey from Knowledge@Wharton and SAP.

The survey found that corporate inertia, lack of clear prioritization from top management and underutilized technology solutions are the reasons for a jarring disconnect between what companies say and what they actually do about business simplification. While simplifying business is a growing strategic imperative for today’s companies, many leaders are not aligning their actions effectively with their stated goals of simplifying business processes, decision making and technology. The study also outlined several ways that companies can make simplification more effective including self-diagnosis, support of senior leadership and driving change from the bottom up with regular updates.

The study was commissioned by SAP and conducted by Knowledge@Wharton, the online business analysis journal of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Based on nearly 700 respondents at companies across industries, geographies and sizes, the findings were supplemented by interviews with Wharton professors and SAP executives.

The research outlined the broader factors behind workplace complexity: Complexity is Widespread

Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of all respondents cited that process and decision-making complexities have inhibited their ability to meet business goals. This problem becomes more pervasive among top management, as only 27 percent of respondents believe that senior leaders take day-to-day actions designed to simplify business.

Technology has not helped to solve the whole problem. Sixty percent of respondents felt that technology was limiting their ability to meet strategic goals. Technology’s lack of effectiveness is due to its lower priority to businesses, as only 39 percent of respondents say they have simplified technology within their organization.

“HR leaders must refresh strategies, streamline processes and embrace new technologies to focus on long-term growth,” said Stefan Ries, chief human resources officer at SAP. “Companies should no longer accept inefficiencies, but challenge the complexities that increasingly permeate today’s workplaces. Simplifying is the new imperative.”
Simple is Strategic

The majority of senior leaders believe business simplicity is beneficial, with over two-thirds (67 percent) saying that it will be very important in the next three years. Furthermore, 42 percent of respondents are optimistic that efforts to simplify business will be strongly effective in three years.

Respondents also believe that technology will be a key enabler in reducing complexity. In three years, they expect a 165 percent growth in leaders’ ability to access information through self-service tools, supporting quicker decision making. The most desired technologies to improve simplification include:

More efficient talent management and performance tools, Deeper insights and analytics, to assess the effect of leadership, Comprehensive learning and development processes, Collaboration tools for engaging employees and having leadership discussions.

“The first way to reduce complexity is to devote serious time and resources to solving the problem,” said Morris Cohen, a professor of Operations and Information Management at the Wharton School. “These results show the lack of attention that complexity has received. This lack of attention cannot continue any longer.”


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