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Kiwi lack of curiosity impacting tech innovation

11 Nov 2015

A new study has revealed that New Zealand businesses aren’t placing enough emphasis on curiosity in the workplace, leading to a loss of ‘technology potential’.

The Rackspace Curiosity Quotient, which surveyed 328 New Zealand white-collar workers, found just 42% of respondents felt their organisation was curious and 72% of them agreed technology played an important role in innovating new products and services.

However, in ‘non-curious’ organisations, that number dropped dramatically to just 39%.

In ‘curious’ organisations, 85% of respondents felt it was essential to be curious about technology and its application in the workplace, compared to 64% in non-curious organisations.

Angus Dorney, Rackspace ANZ director and general manager, says being curious about technology is extremely important in helping manage complexity and gain more knowledge to manage disruption.

The vendor says curious organisations are more likely to see greater technological innovation of products and services, and technology application in the workplace.

Despite the lack of curiosity in Kiwi businesses, 80% of overall respondents said it was important to be curious in life generally, and 74% said it was important to be curious within their day to day job.

Sixty-three percent strongly agreed that curiosity played an important role in driving increased revenues in the business, 73% agreed it was essential to be ‘curious about technology and its application in the workplace’ and 67% agreed that ‘technology had enabled a greater level of professional potential for them at work’.

But the report also highlights the importance of being able to switch off from technology – with smaller businesses leading the way.

“Time away from technology is equally important too,” Dorney says. “The human touch is critical in supporting technology and what it can do.

“Technology can be a huge competitive advantage, but it is the people that piece it all together that make competitive advantage real.”

While 63% of respondents agreed it was important to switch off from technology for periods of thinking and quiet time, only 26% said their workplace encouraged time away from technology for day-to-day contemplation.

However, small businesses apparently know better, with 60% of those from businesses with a turnover of between $200,000 and $2 million saying they were encouraged to take time away from technology, compared with just 34% in businesses earning over $10 million.

The survey also shows 63% of respondents use technology to stay ahead of developments that are making old skills obsolete, with 45% saying jobs were becoming harder to come by due to increased levels of technology-driven job automation.

Rackspace says this highlights the need to be increasingly curious about technology and the skills it can provide.

Greg Symons, CEO and founder, ClearMatch and co-founder of SocietyOne says there is a divide occurring in technological prowess or skill.

“I think the people most at risk are those that sit in the middle of their technical skills. You’re either using your curiosity and your skill set and your knowledge to automate, or you will be automated.”

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