Industry Study 2023: Employees ignore data handling guidelines

In six out of ten companies, employees ignore data handling guidelines out of convenience or to save time. This negligence can jeopardize production processes and projects, especially since only just under a quarter of the workforce has a very high level of risk awareness when it comes to handling data. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by the technology company XPLM. A total of 126 decision-makers from industry were surveyed.

Many companies are pushing for secure and compliant data handling. Unfortunately, however, the barrier-free flow of information is made so difficult by different IT systems or media discontinuities that employees choose their own "shortcuts" that do not meet security standards. Charly Wachtel, CEO of the technology company XPLM and responsible for the data networking tool XSPHERE, warns against handling data too carelessly. Although most managers have recognized the potential risks, he says, "they can't get a grip on the problem because the existing IT infrastructure puts obstacles in the way of employees. As a result, employees in 61 percent of companies ignore or circumvent existing guidelines for handling data," says Charly Wachtel.

In daily work, data access is often associated with additional effort, which is why a lot of information is not passed on or queried. This leads to missed opportunities and unused potential. For example, seven out of ten companies state that their employees often do not think about using all the data available in the company. One reason for this is the cumbersome handling of data. In three out of four companies, for example, a lot of data is still exchanged by e-mail instead of being made available in the actual application programs.

"The results of the study show that companies are still falling far short of their potential due to the lack of data access. It's not always technical barriers that disrupt the flow of information. Sometimes it's also due to silo thinking in different departments or a lack of know-how. Many employees are not even aware of the information they could actually access that is important for their work," says XPLM manager Wachtel. This not only means that employees often don't have access to up-to-date data, but that retrieving and processing outdated data can also result in serious errors and avoidable costs. 

For example, it often happens that employees in product development receive the detailed requirements for their design in paper form. This is problematic because adjustments have to be made again and again. The result: inefficiencies and delays in the design process.

Careless handling of data increases security risk

Careful handling of data is also important from a security perspective. As many as a quarter of the study participants admit that risk awareness in handling data within the workforce is rather low, and only 28 percent assume that risk awareness is very high. However, it is not always possible to ensure that installed systems are handled in compliance with the rules by means of internal company training.

Industry expert Wachtel therefore advises a solution that provides the workforce with intuitive and secure data access and at the same time interlinks various business processes: "It is important to have a solution where employees can link and open all the data and information they need from their familiar application. The viable solution lies not in lengthy organizational changeovers, but in a lean solution that seamlessly connects a variety of systems."

About the study

126 executives from the industry were surveyed for the “Industry Study 2023, Success Factor Data” conducted at the end of 2022. The survey participants work in companies with a minimum turnover of 40 million euros in the mechanical engineering, automotive, electrical industry, chemical, pharmaceutical, food, medical technology and energy sectors.

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With XSPHERE web services, companies in industry and other sectors can conveniently share technical data. All relevant information can be linked across locations and systems from the familiar working environment. The linked data updates automatically without any synchronization. Data models remain unchanged. Since XSPHERE does not require any implementation, integration or migration, there are only low installation costs without any project risk.

XSPHERE is a product of XPLM, a global solution provider. Founded in 2005, the company's core competence is to connect people, systems and processes. XPLM is headquartered in Dresden, Germany, with offices in the USA and Japan.