tools on a wooden table

Can productivity tools lead to business innovation?

by Daniel Newman

Small innovations are often a big key to success in a fast moving society.

But we can’t ignore the fact that innovation, small or big, is hard to achieve. Especially with distractions galore, it’s easy for productivity to jump the track. And today, businesses are more distracted than ever before by the latest and greatest in new technologies and tools. We need to be asking ourselves if the distraction is offset by making employees more productive and helping businesses innovate faster. Let’s explore the answer to that question together, shall we?

Correlation between tech tools and productivity

Employees today are immersed in tech, almost from the moment our eyes open in the morning until we close them at night. Smart phones are always at hand; laptops and tablets help us work on the go; we are teleconferencing in the office; and in some cases technology has helped us do our job without ever leaving our home.

But are we getting more done?

Dell and Intel have released their Global Evolving Workforce Study¹ containing some very crucial insights in this regard. According to the study, 1 in every 4 employees globally report they are influenced by the technology provided to them at work and are more likely to accept a new position if they are provided better technology that increases their productivity. Again, 46% of employees feel that technology has made them more productive, and has enabled them to communicate faster with co-workers. The numbers explain how today’s employees feel about technology, and what impact it has on their productivity and performance. Since this study included nearly 5,000 workers in 12 countries, the stats cover diverse geographic locations and working environments.

The data provided is very interesting in its inclusiveness, but it leads us to our next question:

How productivity leads to innovation

It’s human nature to perform better when we are happy. We tend to feel more satisfied at work when we are less stressed, and a stress-less environment facilitates more opportunities for innovative thinking. Technology gives employees the power to do more, and when employees are empowered and excited they tend to be more creative and more effective. Creativity and effectiveness sound like the perfect ingredients for an environment of innovation.

Technology is leading us to an era of productivity where evolving tools can help us move from problem to solution much faster than ever before, leaving more room for us to create and innovate.

So, do tools directly lead to innovation? My answer is: yes, no and maybe. An environment of innovation is created by several variables. I think tech-lead innovation will depend on the environment, the purpose of the business and the tools available to employees.

How does technology trigger productivity?

Tools are driving employees to engage with technology in a way that helps them get more done in less time. I’d argue that the sense of greater productivity is arising from the adoption of various tech tools that make tasks such as reading and answering e-mails, searching and collecting information, communicating and collaborating internally, and other role-specific tasks much easier and less time consuming.

We often hear about technology being a distraction: The chime of a text message, the addictive pull of social media, and the expansive world of the internet at our fingertips. True, technology can be quite distracting and employees are struggling to find the middle ground. But, technology is not the only productivity-killer; an increasing number of employees are complaining about having to deal with noisy co-workers, work overload, and information overload, reports a recent survey.² Are these contributors killing productivity any less than tech distractions?

Contrary to other productivity-killers, technology serves as a terrific opportunity to empower employees by easing burden on their shoulders. They are able to get their work done more quickly and effortlessly. With more time on their hands, what can we expect to happen?

Productivity leads to innovation

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Dan Newman is the president and founder of Broadsuite, where he consults a wide range of brands on their digital strategies. He is the author of two books, including the Amazon best-selling business book, “The Millennial CEO,” and “The New Rules of Customer Engagement.” Newman also contributes to Forbes, Huffington Post and Entrepreneur, and was recognized by the Huffington Post as one of the 100 business and leadership accounts to follow on Twitter.

  1. 1"Global Evolving Workforce Study." 2014.
  2. 2"2014 The State of Workforce Productivity Report." 2014.