A lack of technical skills impacting future plans of eight in 10 UK businesses

According to the ‘Business Transformation Index 2022‘ from global engineering, technology and consulting service provider Expleo, upgrading legacy IT systems and infrastructure was identified as the top challenge to success by over half (58%) of participating UK businesses.

Concerns around internal IT teams being too stretched (54%) and cyber security (51%) follow closely as the other top barriers to the success of transformation projects in the UK.

In addition, nearly half (49%) of UK respondents believe the skills gap and talent shortages are the main challenges to achieving business transformation, while 82% believe that skills shortages in technical disciplines are having an impact on their organisation’s future plans.

Businesses understand they need to be more proactive in the adoption of automation to tackle these issues, with over a third (34%) already viewing process automation as a potential solution to addressing staff shortages.

However, 72% of leaders believe that a lack of skills or experience internally to competently manage emerging technologies, such as AI/ML and AR/VR, is a problem when implementing new digital transformation initiatives.

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Transformation investment and planning

Despite these digital transformation challenges, 75% of UK respondents expect to increase tech budgets by at least 10% in the next five years, with nearly two in five (38%) anticipating an increase in budget of over 30%.

Work has already begun, according to the study, with UK organisations having accelerated their digital transformation plans by an average of 11 months in response to COVID-19.

Looking to the future, it was found that business and IT leaders are adopting a proactive mindset, with 61% of UK respondents expressing belief that a bold approach to digital technologies will leave them better placed to succeed.

By comparison, just 27% believe that a cautious approach that waits for technology to mature is more likely to lead to success.

However, 61% also believe that not having a sufficiently bold vision is a problem when implementing new digital transformation initiatives, demonstrating a disconnect between ambitions and operations in practice.

“We’re now living in an increasingly tech-centric world, and the pandemic has truly highlighted the importance of being digitally agile,” said Stephen Magennis, managing director of Expleo UK Technology.

“Businesses need to be ready to adapt quickly to changes in market conditions and consumer behaviours, but many companies are still unaware of exactly how to succeed on a digital transformation journey.

“Our research finds that success in transformation is reliant on commitment from all corners of an organisation. From top management buy-in and boldness of vision to the raising of digital skills levels across teams, an end-to-end continuous improvement mentality needs to be encouraged.

“Many organisations will benefit from working with third parties who can support them on this journey through their deep understanding of technology and learnings across industries. Expert support helps businesses to change direction nimbly with speed and confidence – and pull away from competitors in the process.”

Expleo commissioned a survey of 1,030 business and IT leaders from large organisations across France, Germany, Ireland, the UK and the US, for its ‘Business Transformation Index 2022’ study.