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AI adoption lagging among workers, study finds

A new study shows that 91 per cent of individuals find Generative AI and 85 per cent find automation to be helpful or miraculous. 

However, there’s a significant gap between leaders (51 per cent) and workers (25 per cent) adopting AI. While 66 per cent of knowledge workers believe their companies should use Generative AI, only 22 per cent have embraced it. Additionally, poor technology tools are costing companies up to 6 months of working hours each year, impacting productivity for 87 per cent of respondents, and 13 per cent are even considering quitting due to these issues.

Adobe has recently conducted research on Australian knowledge workers’ attitudes towards digital technologies and their impact on productivity. The report, titled “The Future of Digital Work: Australia,” sheds light on the factors that contribute to and hinder productivity, as well as the digital tools and processes crucial for a successful and content workforce.

The findings indicate that while 82 per cent of knowledge workers recognize the essential role of digital technologies in their day-to-day work, digital proficiency is lacking. Only a small fraction (10 per cent) considers themselves top experts, and just over one-third admit to merely getting by. The majority (72 per cent) of knowledge workers agree that digital documents are indispensable, followed by technology-supporting collaboration (65 per cent) and video conferencing (58 per cent).

As hybrid work arrangements become more common, leaders tend to rely more on collaboration and video conferencing tools, while employees prefer instant messaging platforms and digital approval tools for communication and workflow needs. Despite the increasing adoption of digital technologies, paper-based work remains prevalent in many workplaces, with more than one-third of knowledge workers stating that at least half of their work still involves paper.

Generative AI emerges as a game-changer for knowledge workers, with respondents highlighting its benefits, such as accelerated work processes (86 per cent), elimination of redundant tasks (84 per cent), more time for engaging and meaningful work (83 per cent), and production of high-quality output (83 per cent). However, despite its advantages, only 22 per cent of respondents reported that their companies currently utilize generative AI. Nevertheless, 58 per cent of workers anticipate regular usage of this technology in the coming years, showcasing their confidence in its value.

Both leaders and employees acknowledge the positive impact of AI on their work, with 68 per cent recognizing its influence. 23 per cent even consider it miraculous, and 24 per cent claim it has revolutionized their work for the better. Interestingly, more businesses have adopted AI solutions than the workforce is aware of, with 52 per cent of leaders acknowledging their organization’s use of AI compared to 25 per cent of employees.

The study also reveals a shift in traditional notions of productivity, with Australians redefining success in the workplace by prioritizing impact alongside volume and speed. Knowledge workers are almost twice as likely to equate productivity with doing impactful work rather than simply focusing on efficiency. Employees themselves are leading this paradigm shift, with 52 per cent emphasizing the importance of impactful work, even surpassing their leaders (43 per cent).

Despite the growing reliance on digital tools, poor technology hampers productivity, according to 87 per cent of knowledge workers. Of these, 12 per cent say it’s killing productivity. Leaders echo this sentiment, with 88 per cent agreeing that substandard technology negatively affects productivity, resulting in significant time loss—up to 2-4 hours per day, translating to up to 25 weeks (6 months) per working year.

Poor technology also impacts talent retention, with 13 per cent of employees considering quitting their job in the next six months due to work technology hindering productivity. This figure rises to 39 per cent for full-time remote workers.

Chandra Sinnathamby, Director, Digital Media B2B Strategy & GTM, Asia-Pacific, highlights the importance of overcoming technological barriers and embracing digital tools to unlock productivity and satisfaction in the future workforce. Automation and AI hold the potential to revolutionize work, while generative AI offers promise in enhancing document workflows and delivering higher-quality work. By embracing technology, organizations can empower their workforce and unleash its full potential.

Adobe’s The Future of Digital Work: Australia 

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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