The LIFE 2 Study focuses on the question of whether and to what extent information and communication technologies (ICT) shape and change the world of work. The status quo was just as important in this context as the position and significance of ICT in five years. To sketch a broad picture of the role of ICT in the world of work, the study combines qualitative and quantitative elements. One of the main emphases was on illuminating the topic from different angles: Academics were interviewed, as were industry experts and executives representing the enterprises.
Listening to the standpoint of the users was equally important. One of the key findings of the study is that ICT plays an incredibly diverse role in how we work, influencing countless parameters in the business world. ICT is particularly interesting from an economic point of view due to its contribution to growth. The ICT sector itself has grown faster than average in the past years and its contribution to value creation and employment is steadily increasing. But ICT also acts as a growth driver in other industries and sectors by creating the basis for innovation and new business models. The results of this study show that the macroeconomic influence of ICT will continue to increase substantially.
From the point of view of the enterprises, the two main aspects in using and assessing the significance of ICT are growth and cost reduction. ICT can, for example through virtual collaboration solutions in research and development, considerably strengthen an enterprise’s innovative capacity. ICT-based solutions and technologies, such as connecting everyday objects in electronic networks by using RFID tags, also enable new business models. But alongside its role in enabling innovation, ICT is also seen as a crucial cost lever. A cost-effective approach to designing a company’s ICT infrastructure, e.g. by using flexibly sourcing or cloud computing, is only one of many aspects. Equally important from the corporate point of view are savings that can be unlocked through the intelligent use of ICT, for instance by using ICT-supported process design within the company, or saving travel time and expenses by using virtual collaboration technologies, or cutting back energy costs by embracing green IT.
At individual job level ICT primarily has an influence on the perceived quality of work: Mobile working, decentral work, virtual collaboration and shorter project times are the main keywords here. The many different priorities and standpoints of the groups that were interviewed sketch a picture of ICT as a key technology and enabler for a wide range of industries and sectors at many different levels. Academics, business representatives, professional IT users and consumers are all unanimous that it is in this role that ICT will continue to have a decisive and ever-increasing influence on the way the business world develops in future.