Public sector struggling with cloud due to skills shortage

The public sector is struggling to take full advantage of the benefits digital can bring as a result of a growing digital skills gap, according to research by the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF).

This lack of technical expertise and digital proficiency is hampering the ability to deliver digital services and must be addressed if organisations are to embrace digital transformation, the industry body added.

Conducted in February 2017, the research polled 250 IT and business decision-makers in large enterprises, small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and public-sector organisations. The results reveal that although digital transformation projects are most likely to be driven by the CIO or Head of IT (37%) or the CEO (32%), large-scale organisational change requires the buy-in and support from all members of the senior management team to be successful.


Confidence lacking

Alex Hilton, CEO of CIF, stated: “What came out loud and clear from our research was that while respondents believe that their senior leadership teams generally recognise the need to deliver digital transformation, they are less confident in their ability to actually deliver it – particularly in the public sector.”

According to the findings, whilst a quarter are confident that their leadership team recognises the need for digital transformation, only 17% are confident that the leadership can transform the business. Worryingly, just 12% of respondents from the largest organisations – and 12% specifically from the public sector – are completely confident that their leadership team can deliver digital transformation.

“Having the right skills in the broader workforce to deliver digital transformation is similarly critical. However, just 45% of respondents believe that their organisation has the skills required to adapt to digital transformation. Our figures also found that while 15% are actively recruiting to plug their skills gap, three in ten had no plans to do so,” added Alex.

Other key findings include:

  • Over half – 55% – believe that their organisation does not have the skills required to adapt to digital transformation
  • The top three sought after digital skills are: strategy (37%), digital roadmap for implementation (37%) and cloud specialists (35%)
  • In 39% of organisations, the IT team has been maintained in its current form but refocused on new IT priorities
  • In a further 35% of cases the team was maintained but workloads on legacy systems was reduced to take account of new digital transformation projects
  • In the overwhelming majority of IT departments – 85% – the team size has been maintained

Alex commented: “The structure and activities of the IT department are changing thanks to cloud services. Although some respondents have seen their internal IT teams reduced, the fear that cloud will drive the IT department to extinction appears to be largely unfounded. Instead, in the majority of cases, the IT department has been maintained in full, but refocused on other priorities.”

Around three quarters of all IT departments stated that cloud has changed – or will change – the role of IT staff within the organisation. According to the CIF research, a third of respondents spent less time trouble-shooting application issues, and a quarter spent more time on planning, strategy and other value-added activities.

“All of this should be heartening for IT staff, assuming of course that they are able to adapt and hone their skillsets. Flexibility is now the order of the day and staff must equip themselves with the skills needed to thrive in the digital economy. Those staff that fail to adapt, and the businesses that they work for, will find themselves at a distinct disadvantage,” concluded Alex.

To this end, CIF have built and launched their Professional Membership programme offering a structured learning roadmap and testing for individual and corporate members to follow, leading to a recognised Professional Cloud Certification.

The research is available as a White Paper (20) and can be downloaded from:

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