Australia is lagging well behind overseas counterparts in terms of its preparation to meet digital transformation goals, according to a recent global study from Brocade.
The research - which surveyed IT leaders in the U.S., UK, France, Germany, Australia and Singapore - indicated that many companies are at a tipping point, as new technology demands are set to outstrip the skills supply.
Over half (54 per cent) predicted they will struggle with a lack of IT talent within the next 12 months, suffering from factors included skills shortages, prevalence of outdated skills, lack of commitment to training at the corporate board level and the rapidly changing technology environment.
Specifically from a local perspective, more than half (54 per cent) of Australians agreed that the current political climate makes it difficult to hire employees with the right skills.
Insufficient budget (60 per cent ) and training time (50 per cent) were also highlighted as constraining IT departments’ attempts to develop skills more than any other factors, according to local respondents.
Additionally 59 per cent of Australians added that new skills acquisition is not seen as being as valuable as it should be by the board, while 35 per cent think their boards view gaining knowledge and skills as a cost to the business, rather than an asset.
“Businesses are approaching the peak of IT strategic influence,” said Brocade systems engineering manager for A/NZ, Phillip Coates.
“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.”
Coates added that the companies that address this now through additional skills training will be in the strongest position to ensure business growth and competitive advantage.
The research also found that skills planning had 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.
AI: friend or foe?
Artificial intelligence (AI) was viewed as the most critical skill by IT leaders in Australia, with 64 per cent citing AI will shape the role of the CIO in the next 10 years.
Whilst Brocade said AI is likely to replace a number of IT roles and tasks, this doesn’t mean the end for the IT department. Employees need to have the right skills to be in a position to work alongside AI and embrace its future impact, so that business can unleash its full potential.
According to the global study, desktop support (23 per cent), data analyst (20 per cent), software testers (17 percent), system architects (14 per cent) and network engineers (11 per cent) topped the list as current roles set to be replaced by AI.
Research also revealed that within the next 10 years, these numbers are expected to increase: desktop support (37 per cent), data analyst (34 per cent), software testers (33 per cent), system architects (31 per cent) and network engineers (31 per cent).