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From Talent Loss to Data Breach: The Risks of Outdated Technology

November 13, 2019 No Comments

Featured article by Steven ZoBell, Chief Product and Technology Officer, Workfront

An impressive 91% of knowledge workers say they’re proud of the work they do and care about bigger picture objectives, according to Workfront’s 6th annual State of Work report, which surveyed 3,750 knowledge workers in the US, UK, the Netherlands, and Germany. But almost half of those surveyed struggle to be productive because of outdated workplace technology.

We know that deploying modern workplace solutions to help people get the right work done is a key attribute that successful companies—those that regularly outpace the competition—share. By letting work management drive their technology strategy, they also connect individual digital tools into one orchestrated whole to support dynamic work processes and capture information that supports visibility and context.

Most knowledge workers (84%) surveyed in the State of Work report think businesses that don’t move to more modern technology solutions are missing opportunities. But what I think is equally concerning as missed opportunities, are the serious risks associated with outdated workplace technology, from losing your top talent to jeopardizing your data security. Let’s take a closer look at these outdated technology risks.

Hiring—and keeping—top-tier talent is difficult.

According to “Technology Is Critical To Recruit And Retain A Workforce That Is Only Getting Younger,” a Forbes article written by David Karandish, companies with outdated technology and legacy systems may be less appealing to top-tier candidates, particularly as more digital natives enter the workforce. David writes, “As the talent war continues, and Gen Z keeps demanding a great enterprise experience, a company that ignores tech tools in the workplace does so at great risk. But don’t take my word for it—ask your youngest employee if they have more experience with WhatsApp or TPS reports.”

Paul Tasker, director of marketing technology & demand operations at Sage, said, “The expectations of someone joining the workforce today—versus their mother or father—plays into everything from a platform design or UX to the company’s ways of working. Companies that fail to recognize and adapt to this dynamic environment will quickly be left behind.”

Dale Whitchurch, director of the engineering global program management office at Arthrex adds that, “End users want to bring their own device, work in their own apps, work on their own schedules. As a business, we have to agree to work together during some intervals, in common technologies. In order to do so, our needs must converge.”

Outdated technology not only impedes hiring, but also hurts retention. When worker frustrations with outdated technology mount, they may leave. According to Unisys Corporation’s “New Digital Workplace Divide” study, workers at “technology laggard” organizations were 600% more likely to seek jobs elsewhere than those who worked at “technology leader” organizations.

What’s reassuring is that 88% of knowledge workers surveyed in the State of Work report believe workplaces with modern technology attract and keep the best talent. So, while outdated tech can hold businesses back, modern solutions can give them a competitive edge in hiring and retention.

The consequences of outdated technology can impact more than just your people; they can impact your customers too.

Securing data and meeting compliance standards is tougher.

“The Risks of Using Outdated Technology,” a blog post by Omega Computer Services, likens running a business with outdated technology to driving an old car. While it may keep working with fixes along the way, you’ll still have slow and vulnerable equipment. With technology, this can lead to serious security and compliance risks. Legacy systems may no longer be supported by security updates and patches, and disaster recovery and backup solutions begin to pile up.

Many industries, like healthcare, must meet strict requirements to protect customer data. Without modern technology’s security safeguards, customer data is at a higher risk of attempted hacks and other security threats. If data breaches occur and businesses can’t abide by industry standards, like HIPAA in healthcare, they’re at risk of expensive fines and penalties, not to mention the loss of credibility and customer trust.

Minimize risks—and maximize opportunities—with modern workplace technology.

I’ve focused on the risks associated with outdated workplace technology, but consider the upside: 91% of the global knowledge workers surveyed in the State of Work report crave modern solutions. This statistic paired with the fact that an equal percentage of workers are proud of the work they do speaks to the opportunity businesses have to maximize an already engaged workforce with modern workplace technology that they’re decidedly eager to adopt.

The case for deploying modern workplace technology is as much about minimizing risks (like losing top talent to businesses that provide the modern digital experiences they want), as it is about maximizing opportunities. Modern solutions—workplace technology that connects people’s daily activities to enterprise goals, reduces excessive emails so teams can focus on high-value work that drives results, etc.—create opportunities to not only engage (and retain) your most valuable people or safeguard your customers’ data, but also achieve your desired business outcomes.

For more State of Work insights, visit


Steven ZoBell, Chief Product and Technology Officer, Workfront

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