The role of the IT department has been shifting continuously since its inception. At first it was merely a cost centre, but today it’s firmly rooted in business transformation. The next step, as revealed in our recent Global Digital Transformation Skills Index, is moving the IT department into an internal consultancy role. However, this is easier said than done, and as we saw with the previous transition it will require a lot of talented people to steer this move in tandem with the emerging technologies that are shaking up the industry as a whole.
This is why we need to talk about training. Our research shows that, of all the activities that the IT department dedicates time to, the least is spent on upskilling. Whilst some markets are greater offenders than others - the UK dedicates only an hour a week to training compared to Singapore’s four - it’s still a race to the bottom when one considers the current advances in technology and the opportunities that are being missed out on.
One of the key issues that our research highlights is that planning for training timelines does not align with longer IT planning cycles. So, for instance, whilst a grand plan for a strategic IT shift may kick-off two years in advance, training and staffing concerns are only considered six months in advance.
This disconnect is being felt by CIOs and IT decision makers, with around one in four claiming that lack of skills, outdated skills and insufficient manpower are holding the department back from delivering on its goals.
It’s a curious scenario, as our IT decision maker respondents almost unanimously (91%) agree that their company recognises the importance of the IT department for future innovation and growth. Despite this, nearly half of the IT decision makers we surveyed pointed to insufficient budget and training time as key blockades to their success, and 67% agree that the key to closing the skills gap would be to spend more on training.
The importance of further investment (both time and money) in IT upskilling cannot be understated. We have entered a period of rapid technological advancement where numerous technologies are coalescing to dramatically change the face of IT.
It’s telling then that, when queried on which skills would be vital for future success, IT leader’s responses were so varied. Whilst those at the front of the pack aren’t that surprising - AI, cyber security, the cloud - other, less headline grabbing skills such as DevOps and SDN were also popular choices. In fact, 68% agree that the future of the IT department will rest on the acquisition of more specialised skills.
Organisations and CIOs recognise the importance of IT for future success, they recognise the problems they need to solve, they know how to solve them and they know they have to do it quickly. It’s time for CIOs and the board to step up the training regime and solve the IT skills gap.