Complexity, lack of time, and a skills shortage mean that Irish IT Departments are failing to meet business expectations for digital technology.

Dublin, Republic of Ireland: July 13th 2016 – Research from Sungard Availability Services ®  (Sungard AS), a leading provider of information availability through managed IT, cloud and recovery services, has revealed that IT decision makers (ITDMs) in Ireland are struggling to keep up with the increased digital demands placed upon them by employees and business leaders[i].

Digital technologies are a game-changer for businesses and a powerful tool for growth. This has caused a huge drive to adopt new and emerging technologies, from cloud based applications through to online collaborative working, to increase productivity, develop new revenue streams and improve communications with internal and external parties. The research highlighted just how high expectations are when it came to this digital push, with 78% of Irish IT departments stating that digital adoption is critical in remaining competitive within their industry.

Employees in Ireland are also demanding more digital technologies, claiming it makes their jobs easier (74%), and enables them to develop new skills (66%). This is a significant rise on UK figures, 63% and 59% respectively, suggesting that Ireland is more proficient in using digital tools within the business.   

Failure to keep up with digital demands

However, expectations are not living up to reality. Despite 63% of Irish workers believing that their IT team is critical in delivering this digital drive, over a third (38%) are concerned that their organisation is falling behind the competition. It is clear that this employee demand is creating pressure for the IT department, with a staggering 76%  of Irish ITDMs believe the speed of digital transformation is not meeting employee's expectations, while 45% feel they are behind on management demands.

These demands and expectations mean IT departments are now struggling to control their technology. Almost half (44%) of ITDMS in Ireland believe they lack the skills to integrate new systems into their legacy estate, while 41% stated that security skills were lacking. This skills shortage is also compounded by time pressures, with 36% claiming that they do not have enough time to dedicate to implementing digital tools.

Keith Tilley, Executive Vice President, global sales & customer services management, Sungard Availability Services, notes: "Ireland has always been a technologically progressive nation – best demonstrated by the number of high profile tech brands that have made the country the base of their EMEA headquarters. The demand for the latest digital tools and services is just another example of the region's appetite for IT.

"Part of what makes Irish businesses so successful is that IT must deliver the digital-first approach that employees need. Failure to do so could seriously hamper their organisation's chance of growth. 

"Of course, for the IT department, it's not so simple. We can liken IT to a bear: at its best IT can be a force for good, but at its worst can be slow, unpredictable, and liable to lash out if placed under too much pressure. Controlling this bear is a challenge in itself, but once done it will allow IT departments to position themselves as a centre point within their organisation's strategic vision. Harnessing the strength of this 'bear' will offer huge benefits to Irish businesses, allowing them to stay at the cutting edge of technology.

"Right now, all eyes are on the IT department to help to drive this change, but they don't need to go it alone. Working with the right partner can offer the support needed to generate success and keep the bear in check."

 Research was conducted by Vanson Bourne, on behalf of Sungard Availability Services, to investigate attitudes towards digital transformation in five countries across the world, focusing on expected benefits, challenges and business demands. Interviews were conducted in May 2016 across two groups of respondents: IT decision makers (ITDMs) and employees from the wider business. The research questioned respondents from businesses with a minimum of 250 employees in Ireland and Sweden and respondents from businesses with over 500 employees in the US, UK and France. These businesses operated in a variety of sectors, including financial services, professional services and retail.

Overall, 715 interviews were conducted online and over the telephone with ITDMs, including 101 from Ireland, 205 from the US, 153 from the UK, 156 from France and 100 from Sweden.

At the same time, 1400 interviews were conducted online and over the telephone with general employees, including 200 from Ireland, 400 from the US, 300 from the UK, 300 from France and 200 from Sweden.​

This research defines digital transformation as implementing new and emerging technologies including cloud based technologies, digital platforms, website mobile site/applications, social media, and customer-facing technology systems, to increase productivity, develop new revenue streams and improve communication with internal and external parties. This can include consolidating or expanding the IT estate to support the deployment of digital solutions.