CIO

Lack of digital skills and change management nous holding back Aussie businesses, report

People challenges loom larger than technical ones, according to Infosys survey

The biggest barriers thwarting Australian businesses’ digital transformation efforts are a lack of change management capabilities, inadequate collaboration between IT and business lines, lack of skills and a risk adverse culture, according to an Infosys survey.

While those reported barriers were common across most regions in the global survey, the lack of digital skills appears to be very much an Australian issue.

The survey of 103 senior managers working at large companies in Australia, found the skills gap to be biting harder than ever before, with 42 per cent of respondents citing the issue in November last year compared with six per cent in March.

“We know that the digital skills gap is a major issue for Australian businesses. It’s been discussed as a challenge for many years and there has been no significant progress,” said Infosys A/NZ vice president Ashok Mysore.

“This is a critical barrier to acceleration and if you review the report, the digital skills shortage doesn’t make the top five barriers in other geographies,” he added.

Firms frequently report that the lack of skilled technology workers has become a barrier to growth. The situation may get worse before it gets better, a report from NBN and the Regional Australia Institute, forecast that half of all Australian workers will be in roles requiring high-level programming by 2030.

An Australian Computer Society report last year stated that Australia will need to fill a further 100,000 technology jobs on top of the 100,000 roles already forecast in the next five years.

Real mature

Infosys ranks the ‘digital maturity’ of businesses in different regions based on their progress across 22 initiatives from DevOps and IoT to 3D Printing and drones.

The report gave Australia a Digital Maturity Index score of 53. The global average score was 57, leaving Australia second bottom (above China) in the seven regions surveyed.

“Although Australian companies are trailing our global counterparts, I’m thrilled to see that over a nine-month period there is an increase in digital maturity in the region,” Mysore said. "We’re seeing more and more organisations becoming more nimble and behaving more like digital natives.

"Digital transformation is a journey, the question is how can organisations move through it as fast and effectively as possible."

Based on their score, the Infosys report categorises businesses as either ‘watchers’, ‘explorers’ or, the most digitally mature, ‘visionaries’. The number of Australian businesses categorized as visionaries grew slightly from 17 per cent to 19 per cent between surveys.

“As watchers move to the explorer digital maturity phase, they need to establish an agile technical foundation. Secondly, they need to enhance digital skills and attract more design and technology talent, and thirdly they need to become more nimble so they innovate at the speed of agile development,” Mysore said.

“To mature to the visionary phase and behave more like digital natives, developing and implementing a comprehensive strategy for automation and AI to bolster human capabilities, rather than focusing purely on cost cutting, is imperative,” he added.

The survey also found that two-thirds of responding companies’ partner for their digital initiatives. Watchers were most likely to run initiatives entirely internally, whereas visionaries were more likely to let partners run and create initiatives on their behalf.

“Effective collaboration across partner ecosystems, extends their organisation and enables them to co-create and innovate with greater speed,” Mysore said.