With GDPR and Brexit on the near horizon, employees are being kept in the dark with only a third being given insight into their business' digital roadmap for the next two years

London, United Kingdom, 22nd March 2018Sungard Availability Services ® (Sungard AS), a leading provider of information availability through managed IT, cloud and recovery services, today reveals that the skills shortage is having a detrimental impact on UK businesses and could pose serious risks in the years ahead. Both IT Decision Makers (31%), and Line of Business Decision Makers (41%) have labelled it as their biggest issue impacting digital initiatives, with seven in ten employees claiming they're not getting the training or tools they need to add value back to the business.

Technology priorities

Despite extensive media hype and scare-mongering about the technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) impacting or replacing human jobs, research* undertaken on behalf of Sungard AS reveals that just under half (49%) of UK businesses have this listed as a technology that will help them prepare for the challenges they face. In reality, Cloud (75%), Internet of Things (69%) and Big Data Analytics (64%) are the big three when ranking these technologies, AI doesn't even make the top four.

Employee disconnect

At least in the immediate future, many jobs and processes that are mooted to be automated or taken over by robots will stay firmly within the remit of the human workforce; yet 70% employees state they are underprepared for the digital journey ahead. Businesses therefore need to invest in their staff – not just in strategic technologies. This will ensure that employees feel supported by and committed to their organisations, and be confident they can do their jobs now and in the future. For business leaders, it means their companies have the skills in situ to optimise all technology investments.

Despite the benefits in doing so, the extent to which the majority of UK businesses are not prioritising investment in people makes for grim reading. Over a quarter of UK workers stated that a lack of training has stopped them from adopting digital working practices, only 30% claiming their company has provided them with the tools to overcome the challenges they are facing.

Meanwhile, increasing employee satisfaction, increasing staff mobility and increasing staff retention levels were revealed to be the three lowest priorities for business decision makers over the next two years, at only 32%, 23% and 19% respectively.

Communication is key

The research also found that businesses need to be more transparent about how they intend to navigate future challenges. Only 32% of UK employees polled feel like they are kept up to speed with their employer's digital roadmap. This is in stark contrast to the 75% of ITDMs who reported that they are kept well informed of strategic direction.

This lack of business-wide communication could have serious ramifications for business leaders and commercial success, especially when the UK is heading into the uncharted waters of Brexit, and has the European GDPR directive looming on the near horizon. For example, when asked about their understanding of the changes that will come into force as a result of GDPR, a large majority (84%) of line of business heads in the UK have some understanding, compared to 3% of employees who say they understand completely, contrasting with the 50% who report they do not understand at all. Considering that employees are often the weak link in an organisation's security chain, this lack of understanding about their roles and responsibilities when it comes to security compliance should serve as a wakeup call to businesses.

Commenting on the findings, Kathy Schneider, CMO, Sungard Availability Services said:

"In addition to Brexit and GDPR, the lack of digital skills is yet another challenge facing UK organisations over the next couple of years. To remain competitive, businesses will need to prioritise digital skills development and training to help navigate the new technology trends. This means investing not only in technologies and systems, but also in training around the required skills. Communication of the challenges and the digital journey ahead will be vital to ensuring business resiliency. Failure to do so could open businesses up to unnecessary – and avoidable – risks."

Eddie Curzon, Regional Director at the CBI adds:

"Despite the widespread news coverage highlighting the impact that skills shortages are having on UK plc and associated GDP, these findings suggest that some businesses are not making their staff a priority. A good business thrives off people, processes and technology and need to place equal emphasis on each to avoid going off course."

Notes for Editors:

*About the research

The Digital Compass: Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS) commissioned independent technology market research Opinium to conduct interviews with 150 IT decision makers, 150 Line of Business decision makers and 300 employees (middle management and below) in companies of 500+ employees in the UK, across multiple sectors, ranging from medium to large enterprises. The research took place during October 2017.

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About Sungard Availability Services:
Sungard Availability Services ("Sungard AS") is a leading provider of critical production and recovery services to global enterprise companies. Sungard AS partners with customers across the globe to understand their business needs and provide production and recovery services tailored to help them achieve their desired business outcomes. Leveraging more than 35 years of experience, Sungard AS designs, builds and runs critical IT services that help customers manage complex IT, adapt quickly and build resiliency and availability. Visit Sungard Availability Services at www.sungardas.co.uk or call 0800 143 413. Connect with us on LinkedIn , Twitter and our Blog.

Representing techUK (formerly Intellect), the trade association, Sungard AS is helping define ISO 27036 – the IT standard relating to information security in supplier relationships (including cloud services) as a member of SC27. Previously in a similar arrangement, Sungard AS helped develop both business continuity management standard BS 25999, now ISO 22301 and IT continuity management standard ISO 27031. Within the UK, Sungard AS became the first business continuity provider to secure certification against the BS 25999 Standard, which it retained in 2010. SunGard is also certified to ISO 27001 and ISO 9001, and compliant with IGSoC, PCI DSS and ISAE3402.

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