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Lack of skills holding back digital transformation

The majority of businesses believe a lack of people skills is what is holding back digital transformation efforts, according to a new report from the Cloud Industry Forum. 

The report found 80% of organisations state digital transformation success is being held back by a lack of people skills, and that while DX is driving demand for skills today, within the next three years it will be all about cloud project management, AI and RPA experience.

Over a third (37%) of all businesses surveyed said they are looking for digital transformation strategists and visionaries to help deliver IT projects in the very near future, while at the same time identifying what skills will be needed tomorrow, next year and the year after that, the research shows.

Digital skills in demand also include cloud project management (43%), technical implementation skills (42%) and infrastructure and operations expertise (37%).

The research, which was conducted by Vanson Bourne and surveyed UK-based IT and business decision-makers, sought to understand how they were exploiting cloud and other next generation technologies, and the digital skills organisations are looking for today and in the near future.

“A successful digital transformation means ensuring the right blend of skills across an organisation and the empowerment of the IT department to make a positive difference," says Alex Hilton, CEO, Cloud Industry Forum.

"Skills requirements have changed and are now required in more specific focus areas, such as implementation and innovation. Remote working and end point management are more challenging plus the perennial challenge of doing more with less," he explains.

The report found 41% of respondents stated that they did not have enough human resource, preventing their organisation from becoming digitised more quickly.

This figure leaped to 51% when IT decision makers are asked if they do not have the skills in-house.

Digital strategists are in high demand today (37%), a figure that rises to 43% in the next year, However, while demand for skills in robotics and AI are today limited, 40% of the sample stated that these will be in high demand within the next three years.

When it comes to the delivery of cloud services, 90% of respondents have at least some form of structured training in place be that internal or a mix of internal and external (34%).

Exactly half the sample stated that the skills required today for infrastructure and networking professionals are now far more technical than previous with 43% of the same group agreeing that innovation has to be at the forefront of their thinking.
 
“Our findings indicate that in 90% of businesses the IT function now reports directly to the board. This is a vital step forward for IT projects and the success of digital transformation. Seven years ago less than one third were at board level, most reporting into the finance leader," says Hilton. 

"A place at the board table means joined-up thinking when it comes to the effective roll-out of projects of this nature."

Hilton says that cloud usage is now at an all-time high, it is ubiquitous in business, and yet organisations are still struggling with a digital skills gap. 

"With over 40% of our sample claiming that they either do not have enough people or having the required skills they need in-house the challenge remains how to prevent any bumps on the road to true digital transformation,” he says.