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Aussie IT teams not prepared for digital business demands, report says

By Julia Gabel
Fri 28 Apr 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

More than half of Australian IT teams will struggle to meet the demands of digital business over the next 12 months. And they will struggle due to a lack of the ‘right’ skills.

This is according to a global study by Brocade that aims to uncover whether IT leaders around the world are prepared to meet current and future business demands.

The study looks at 6 markets and surveyed 630 IT leaders in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia and Singapore. Of these 6, Germany came out on top as the most prepared to meet its digital transformation goals.

A close second is the United States. Australia and Singapore were at the back of the pack, lagging well behind their counterparts. The research finds that organisations are at a tipping point as new technology demands are set to outstrip the skills supply.

The study suggests that organisations that address this now, through additional skills training, will be in the best position to ensure business growth and competitive advantage.

Reassuringly, 91% of global IT leaders recognise IT departments as very important or critical to innovation and business growth. However, 54% predict they will struggle with a lack of IT talent in 12 months.

Contributing factors identified from the research include skills shortages, prevalence of outdated skills, lack of commitment to training at the corporate board level and the rapidly changing technology environment.

“Businesses are approaching the peak of IT strategic influence,” comments Phillip Coates, systems engineering manager, Australia and New Zealand for Brocade.

Coates says that now is the moment that IT teams feel they have the strongest opportunity to influence the transformation of their organisations.

“However, with a rapidly changing technology landscape and potential impact on international labour markets, it’s critical that IT receives the right training to further develop their skills and business relevance,” continues Coates.

In addition, the research found that skills planning needs to be aligned with other areas of business planning to avoid the risk of a technology skills deficit, where IT teams are expected to deliver the benefits of technologies that they are ill-equipped to implement.

To meet current business needs organisations are moving their IT departments away from the traditional roles. However, these IT teams are still hindered by a lack of skills and the time taken to learn these skills.

In the study, IT decision makers believe this could be a major contributor to their inability to meet business demands now and in the future. This puts their organisation at risk of loosing customers and falling behind their competitors.

Approximately, 1 in 4 respondents in Australia, Singapore, France, Germany and the United States claim that they cannot deliver on current business demand due to staff shortages. For the United Kingdom, this number rises to 42%.

Moreover, respondents claim that the lack of access to talent will prevent them from implementing new technologies efficiently, lead to a decrease in employee satisfaction and result in the loss of market share.

The study highlights another contributing factor to the widening skills gap – the political landscape. And as market uncertainty is expected to intensify over the next few years, it’s crucial for IT departments to stay agile and utilise new technologies.

92% of those questioned had some level of concern about future hiring of IT staff, while 54% were concerned about a lack of skilled talent to choose from.

43% of global respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the current political climate makes it difficult to hire employees with the right skills. In the U.S. and Australia, the numbers were 52% and 54% respectively.

The study finds that organisations should prioritise training. However, the report says that organisations are facing several hurdles, making a focus on training not so easy to implement.

Training continues to be an issue as day-to-day IT maintenance tasks take priority. The research suggests that businesses want to efficiently address their technical skills deficit must invest time and money.

67% of respondents agree that the key to closing the skills gap would be to spend more money on training.

And those who don’t may face consequences of not doing so, the report claims. Overall, there is consistent demand globally to spend more time on increasing skills — from 15% of time that is currently spent on this to 22%.

Constraints hindering IT departments’ development of skills include insufficient budget (45%) and training time (45%). These factors rise to 60% and 50% respectively in Australia, but drop to 37% and 30% in Germany.

Currently, only 3 hours are allocated per week for learning and skills development. Respondents in Singapore average 4 hours of skills development per week.

To conclude, considering these statistics, the report encourages IT professionals to take control of their professional future.

IT leaders must take increased responsibility for their own professional destiny, embracing the opportunities delivered by new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and all areas of IoT from device management to security.

The report offers artificial intelligence as a beacon of hope for the future of IT departments - AI could revolutionise the IT skills that are required and the way that we work.

The report predicts that AI is likely to replace several IT roles and tasks. 56% of respondents believe that developing AI-related skills is key to securing a role in the future. However, this doesn’t mean the end for the IT department.

Employees need the right skills to be able to work alongside AI and embrace its future impact, so that organisations can unleash its full potential.

Brocade announced the new Global Digital Transformation Skills Study, which aims to uncover how prepared global IT leaders are to meet current and future business demands, this week.  

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