I just now finished reading a research brief from MIT Center for Digital Business on measuring the Impact of Electronic Data Management (EDM) on Information Worker Productivity. Authored by Sumit Bhansali and Prof Erik Brynjolfsson from MIT Sloan, this research brief has reported the findings from their project, in which they studied the effects of digitizing work on information workers' time-use and performance at a large insurance firm.
The authors used four complementary data sources:
- Extensive on-site observation (of 4 managers) and interviews (17 pre-EDM interviews and 20 post-EDM interviews)
- Detailed time use records at three different time points (one pre-EDM and two post-EDM)
- Office-wide surveys (one pre-EDM and one post-EDM)
- Accounting data on multiple intermediate and final performance metrics such as current year closure rate, previous year closure rate, retention rate, YTD loss leakage and YTD average amount per claim on physical therapy cost and chiropractor care cost.
Some of the important findings reported are as follows:
- EDM changed task composition at the individual level. EDM led to a significant decline in the substitutable routine labor input and an increase in non-routine cognitive labor input at the information worker level.
- EDM caused the "IT-enabled slack", which allowed information workers to spend more time on value-adding communication activities as well for more personal time relaxing and resting at work or at home (less overtime).
- Post-EDM, both the quantity and quality of routine informational inputs significantly increased, which in turn increased the productivity and performance of workers performing non-routine tasks that demanded those inputs.
- Introduction of EDM got associated with the positive effects on the performance metrics.
We all know that introduction of new technologies such as EDM improves employee productivities. Such research projects help establish this proposition with systematic evidence and can help (perhaps!) establish the business case for New Technology Introduction (NTI).