Seven-country survey shows Chinese firms digitalize faster than companies in other countries
[Shanghai, China, 19 September 2023] A new study ‘Digitalization and its impact on workplaces’, released by Huawei today, has provided fresh insights after surveying over 13,000 employees in 7 countries worldwide. It is the first international study of workplace digitalization relying on the actual experiences of employees instead of arbitrary counting of technology.
"This study highlights the transformative impact of digitalisation on the nature of work across diverse international contexts," said the author, Prof. Dr. Schneider of the Hochschule Trier, University of Applied Sciences in Germany, " As digitalisation accelerates, organisations must adapt strategies to utilise the skills workers already have and take advantage of the latest technologies, or risk falling behind."
The research was conducted by Prof. Dr. Anna Schneider in collaboration with YouGov, in China, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the UK, and the US. She shared three key findings from the report:
One key finding is that China’s firms rely more on digital tools in the workplace than those in the other countries surveyed.
A continuously upgraded broadband infrastructure combined with a population and businesses embracing new technologies explain the leading position of firms in China as part of the survey. Growing levels of digitalisation in businesses are opening up opportunities for a more agile workforce.
Long-established routines in European businesses further curb the use of digital technologies. Human-computer interaction (HCI) is one particularly illustrative example revealed by the survey. HCI is becoming increasingly intuitive as touchscreens, large language models, and augmented/virtual reality come into maturity. However, in offices in some European countries, more than half of all HCI happens on hard keyboards, even in the most digitalized workplaces.
The second key finding is that a high level of workplace digitalization will stimulate knowledge exchange within the workplace by more than 20% compared to firms with a lower level of digitalization. The availability of digital tools makes it much easier to communicate remotely and flexibly. Advanced digital tools furthermore enable superior internal access to stored knowledge through intelligent search algorithms or applications mimicking social networks functionality. New interfaces empowered by large language models may further accelerate the ability to access and exchange knowledge for those firms that adopt them.
In addition, for the future development and success of the digital transformation, digital skills and new ways of interacting with computers will be two decisive building blocks. In all surveyed countries, the use of advanced and virtual interfaces in the workplace lags noticeably behind private use. Respondents consistently expect this gap to widen in the next five years. Businesses often face significant inertia in adopting new interfaces caused by longer product lifecycles of professional equipment and lack of resources to reskill employees. The survey indicated that the latter may be much less of an issue than typically claimed by businesses. Individuals are clearly readier to embrace new interfaces than the firms they work at, as they tend to be very confident in their ability to operate touch-centric, voice, and gesture interfaces, regardless of how digitalized their workplace is.
The study for Huawei points to an urgent need for policy action and investment in areas that can accelerate a comprehensive upgrade of the digital technologies used in firms and ensure digital dividends are shared inclusively.
The report can be downloaded here.