Enterprises might be falling behind in their digital transformation efforts, but their employees aren’t.

That’s the conclusion of a new global study by enterprise software developer BMC Software Inc., which found that only 50 per cent of enterprise employees see their companies as innovative; that 41 per cent fear they won’t be able to keep up with the current pace of digital disruption; and that 88 per cent believe creating an innovative culture is their employers’ job.

In a Jan. 18 statement, BMC executive vice-president of digital transformation Paul Appleby said the study illustrates just how many of today’s enterprise employees want to serve as what he called “digital change agents,” but noted that they require support from surprisingly reticent employers to do so.

“The massive digital disruption we are experiencing is forcing societies and businesses to create new learning environments to train their labour forces so they are able to meet the demands of digital industry,” Appleby said. “To put it simply, businesses that take the initiative to lead today will be those that others follow tomorrow.”

When it came to specific agents of change, the survey found that roughly 47 per cent of global workers believe they will have to learn how to use new software and apps, and that 33 per cent expect some of their tasks to become automated by 2020. (BMC notes this sentiment was higher in countries with a high manufacturing base such as China, where 48 per cent of respondents believe part of their jobs will soon be taken over by robots.)

Fortunately, BMC also found that 74 per cent of respondents felt empowered to “embrace change and seize new opportunities,” and that 71 per cent described their workplaces as “inspiring,” though not every respondent considered the pace and degree of digital change disrupting their work as positive – hence the 41 per cent who reported fearing they won’t learn digital skills fast enough to thrive in the workplace of the future.

The challenge for employers, then, is to ensure they proactively equip their employees with the skills needed to embrace digital transformation – otherwise they risk extinction, BMC says.

To produce the study, research firm Opinion Life conducted online surveys of 3230 respondents in 12 countries, including 250 from Canada, on BMC’s behalf. All respondents were employed full- or part-time at companies with at least 500 employees in the U.S., or 250 employees in the other countries.

BMC also released an infographic summarizing the report’s findings, which you can check out below (click for a larger version), and an eBook, Mission: Launch a Digital Workplace, which you can download here.

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