Martin Wells, eir evo

Frontline services organisations ranked as ‘highly digitalised’ but workers still feel left out

Survey from eir evo shows rise of 'shadow AI'
Martin Wells, eir evo

12 April 2024

Eir evo, has released the findings of a comprehensive research study providing an assessment of digitalisation within frontline service organisations, assessing digital maturity and the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

This study, supported by Microsoft Ireland, gathered insights from over 400 professionals across health, education, local and national government, retail, and hospitality, shed light on the challenges and opportunities in fostering digital inclusivity and revealed the emergence of a digital gap in frontline services.

Almost two thirds of respondents said they considered their organisation to be ‘highly digitalised’ however almost the same number (62%) considered themselves ‘digitally poor’ as they did not feel the full benefits in their role.  This points towards a gap between organisational digital strategy and the digital experience at the frontline level. 




More than a third of respondents identified limited connectivity and a lack of real-time digital collaboration tools as barriers to optimal job performance. And nearly 31% still relied on manual, time-consuming processes for tasks that could be automated, such as data entry and reporting. A clear challenge emerging is how frontline services can better leverage, integrate and connect their devices and solutions for frontline workers to address these pain points.

The study also underlined the emergence of a ‘shadow generative AI culture’ among frontline workers, with 27% actively using open source AI tools like Chat GPT to navigate daily challenges. This underscores the urgent need for organisations to provide secure, reliable, and officially sanctioned AI tools to their teams.

In relation to cyber security and data protection, some conflicts have emerged in the findings that pointed to a strong theoretical culture of cyber vigilance but in practice, security breaches and data mismanagement appear commonplace. For example, 65% felt confident that they were compliant with the data security protocols within the organisation. Yet, 39% experienced a data security incident or breach in their organisation. Almost 70% were confident in the accuracy of the data they work with. Yet, 56% had encountered data inconsistencies or errors.

“Our research highlights a disparity in digital adoption among frontline workers across Ireland,” said Martin Wells, managing director of eir evo. “While they have better access to technologies and are confident about their digital capabilities, there is a gap between organisational digital goals and the actual digital experiences of frontline workers. What is crucial now is to focus on enabling frontline workers to better connect with each other and their customers through real-time collaboration and to realise the value and potential of increased digitalisation through greater inclusion and literacy.”

Microsoft Ireland public sector lead Dr Frank O’Donnell said: “Eir evo’s study specifically focused on workers who are customer-facing or who are on the frontline as these individuals are at the heart of delivering the essential services that communities rely on. Their first-hand experiences and insights are invaluable in understanding how digital tools and AI can enhance the quality and efficiency of vital services, ensuring that the benefits of digital transformation reach every corner of our society. This focus helps to identify and bridge gaps in digital inclusion, ensuring that the frontline of our communities is empowered with the technology, the culture and the skills they need to excel in their critical roles.”

TechCentral Reporters

Read More:

Back to Top ↑