Skills shortages inhibiting digital transformation

31 January 2019

The pace of digital transformation in enterprises is being held back by skills shortages along with migration and integration challenges, according to new research by the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) and BT.

As part of their joint study, the two organisations surveyed 100 senior IT and business decision-makers from large enterprises in the UK with more than 1,000 employees. Their aim was to understand how large enterprises were making technology decisions in the face of heightening levels of digital disruption.

The study found that 52 per cent expect their business models to be “moderately” or “significantly” disrupted by 2020, and that 74 per cent either have a digital transformation strategy in place or are in the process of implementing one.

However, just 14 per cent believe they are “significantly ahead” of their competitors in terms of the adoption of next-generation technologies. The CIF and BT believe this indicates that many are struggling to adapt to the digital revolution.

“Of all the parts of our economy, it is large, enterprises that are the most vulnerable to digital disruption,” said forum CEO Alex Hilton. “Many have invested heavily in their company assets and carry with them a significant amount of tech debt, often making change difficult, slow and expensive.”

The research suggests that skills shortages sit at the heart of this issue, with larger enterprises significantly more likely to report facing skills shortages than their smaller counterparts. Fifty-nine per cent of those polled stated that they lack staff with integration and migration skills (compared to just 28 per cent of SMEs), 64 per cent need more security expertise, and 54 per cent require more strategic digital transformation skills.

David Simpkins, BT’s GM of managed services and public cloud, said the research findings confirm that most enterprises have well-developed strategies aimed at minimising digital disruption and enhancing competitiveness. “Unlike small organisations, who can easily be more agile and nimbler in the face of market conditions, change within large enterprises, whose IT estates are infinitely more complex, is much more difficult to achieve,” said Simpkins.

“Increasingly, we’re seeing enterprises managing a wide range of workloads, combining public and private cloud deployments with data centre infrastructure, while at the same time addressing a range of new security threats. This is changing the skillsets that enterprise IT departments need, and it is clear that many will need greater support to safely transition to the digital age.”