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Blog · 20 Jun 2017

Are skills shortages hindering your digital transformation?

Digital transformation is creeping up the business agenda, but companies might not possess the right skills to leverage digital technologies effectively.

Chief executive officer of the Cloud Industry Forum

Digital transformation is the phrase of the moment in the IT industry and businesses are constantly being told that if they don’t digitally transform themselves, they will wither on the vine.

This may sound like hyperbole, but there is more than an element of truth here.

We have witnessed time and again how young start-ups are leveraging digital technologies to disrupt industries and fundamentally change the way that consumers do things. The speed and innovation facilitated by digital technologies have over the last few years seen market leaders toppled and the balance of power shift from the old guard to digitally native organisations. In fact, according to a study into corporate longevity, approximately 50 per cent of the S&P 500 will be replaced over the next 10 years.

But what is clear is that innovation is happening across the entire spectrum of organisations, from the Ubers and Airbnbs of this world to more established organisations.

It should come as no surprise that digital transformation is creeping up businesses’ agendas as they seek to stay ahead of the competition, steer and make better use of technology, attract talent and drive innovation. In fact, our latest research found that 44 per cent of organisations have already implemented, or are in the process of implementing, a digital transformation strategy, and a further 32 per cent expect to have done so within the next two years.

Cloud is very much part of the digital transformation agenda, and it is clear from this research project that for those companies with designs on digitally transforming themselves, struggle to do so without the delivery model. Unbound, at least from a technology point of view, from fixed infrastructure and proprietary IT, businesses using cloud are free to take more risks and are able to drive change within their organisations and respond quickly to changing market conditions.

The very nature of cloud computing dictates that this technology should alleviate digital skills challenges as there is less IT to manage. However, the journey to the cloud – and, by extension, to unlocking the potential of digital transformation – is far from complete and our research highlights that skills shortages are a perennial challenge.

The cloud brings tremendous benefits and, when harnessed effectively, has the potential to facilitate new business models to serve stakeholders and drive productivity. As such, business and technology leaders need to consider the digital imperatives and should review how they support their staff and their business by ensuring they have access to the necessary skills and training for their own development and to help drive wider digital initiatives further.

To truly take advantage and deploy digital technologies securely and effectively, organisations need to have a number of specialised skillsets at their disposal. For example, many organisations are now moving to hybrid cloud models so that they can leverage all the benefits of the cloud whilst having some data stored on-site. This is an inherently complex model, and it requires unique skillsets both throughout the process of adoption and afterwards in maintenance.

This is why we launched our Professional Membership and eLearning schemes. The schemes, which have been designed for all individuals involved in the assessment, selection, adoption, integration and management of cloud technologies and services, were key factors in BT’s decision to join CIF. The schemes provide the means to aid the development of key digital and cloud computing skills. In an age of digital disruption, and in order to combat the skills shortage as a barrier to migration, businesses need to take action. CEOs and CTOs need ensure that their organisations have the right skills to make their digital transformation a success, or they will be left behind by the competition.