Closing the digital transformation skills gap and more

Based on an interview with Kelvin Wong, CTO, KPMG Singapore

Enterprises worldwide are facing a growing skills gap – and the unfortunate truth is that this will likely be a long-term problem.

Over the last three years, enterprises in virtually every industry and sector have had to undergo rapid digital transformation (DX) to survive in a fast-changing business landscape and keep up with the competition. Factors such as widespread travel restrictions, employee retention challenges, and rapid technological development and adoption have prompted a spike in demand for top talent with specialized digital skills and expertise. 

When the pandemic was at its peak, travel restrictions due to COVID-19 and curbs on foreign work visas contributed to manpower shortages in many industries worldwide. Although many economies have since reopened and travel restrictions have been largely lifted, there is still considerable economic uncertainty across the globe, leading to increased hiring, training, and retaining pressure. As such, many enterprises continue to have difficulty hiring in the tight labor market [1].

On top of that, changing attitudes towards work and the increasing prevalence of remote work has ramped up the talent war on a global and made it much more difficult for businesses to retain key employees [2]. The talent pool in the market is also limited, and upskilling and reskilling people takes time and resources. This means enterprises are facing exacerbated staff costs in order to hire, train and retain the right people with the right skills [3].

So how can you ensure your organization has what it needs to thrive in a digital future?

Enable the workplace of the future with the correct IT systems and infrastructure

To flourish in such a challenging environment, enterprises must develop better IT capabilities to address employee wants and facilitate smooth business operations.

Creating a modern and flexible workplace helps the enterprise to attract and retain the right people, and allows the organization to respond rapidly and well to unexpected changes in the world at large. To enable such an environment, enterprises must ensure their IT infrastructure, networks, and security capabilities are able to support flexible work arrangements and remote collaboration. Exploring new and advanced technologies to create a more adaptive, agile, and responsive work environment are also key.

“Our focus is around technologies that allow multi-sensory collaborative work to be done in the office, and facilitate our people to be able to work from anywhere; and more importantly making sure our people can operate in a safe and secure setting within and outside the office,” says Wong.

With so much operational activity occurring in the cloud, enterprises also need to have IT infrastructure and networks that are reliable, safe, secure, and scalable. Only with these in place can sustainable and effective growth and digital transformation be achieved. 

Secure the necessary skills through the right hires, reskilling and upskilling, and partnerships

Even as the world strives to narrow the skills gap, technology is continuously advancing, and the business landscape is in flux. Thus, it’s crucial that your enterprise has the employees and skills to be able to maximize the benefits of ongoing digitalization and transformation.

Whether you’re hiring new personnel or supporting your existing employees through robust internal learning and development programs, more generalized, brand-agnostic technical skills should be prioritized to ensure flexibility and proficiency across a wide variety of platforms and systems [4]. In many ways, the architecture and functionality behind cloud technology is similar, but with the number of cloud offerings growing exponentially and multi-cloud adding additional layers of complexity into a cloud environment, there will be a critical need to develop knowledge and expertise that can span multiple cloud offerings and understand the differences between them. For more specialized and platform-specific skills, in-depth training and external hiring may be necessary, especially for someone in a technical consultant role, whose skillsets are constantly evolving.

To help narrow the skills gap, a key strategy for enterprises is to invest resources to upskill employees [5]. Assisting workers to develop the right skills, abilities, and knowledge base – and cultivating an environment that encourages continuous learning – both improves their individual capabilities and helps the company grow.

Build a workplace culture that embraces change and continuous improvement

In today’s turbulent and rapidly changing business landscape, change is the only constant. This means enterprises need to be open to and accepting of ongoing change and transformation to be truly future-ready.

To that end, effective organizational change management should be implemented to help leaders and employees across the enterprise understand why change is necessary and how to effectively approach change to deliver the best possible outcomes for all. This will help ease the DX journey by focusing on the most important aspect of transformation: people.

“Change management often requires more soft skills to create awareness among the people about why we want to create this change,” says Wong. “We socialize, create awareness and adopt the ADKAR model to ensure change management is managed well, is well supported, and has a high rate of adoption.”

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Narrowing the skills gap to build an agile, flexible, future-proof enterprise

With the world bracing for economic headwinds, looming recessions, and slower growth6 in 2023, enterprises must find cost-effective ways to close the skills gap to enhance operations, boost productivity and enable efficiency, to survive and thrive through ongoing digital transformation and change. This may require internal changes to the organization in addition to external partnerships with managed service providers (MSPs) that have the skills, knowledge, experience, and network needed to achieve your business goals.

Unfortunately, not every enterprise has the resources to train or hire talent at an advanced level, and economic concerns can be a further strain on resources. IT partners and MSPs can be helpful in such cases, by providing the skills, experience, and knowledge that your enterprise needs, and partnering closely with you to work towards shared goals. with you to work towards shared goals.

If you’re looking for managed or co-managed services that can support your business growth and needs, schedule a chat with our team today.