New UKCloud survey shows a shift towards digital technology
New gathered by UKCloud has found a shift towards new technologies, 97% of UK public sector respondents stated they were, at minimum, evaluating digital technology and its potential to improve outcomes and services.
According to the UKCloud’s State of Digital and Data survey, most organisations are evaluating or experimenting with the use of new technologies such as IoT, artificial intelligence (AI), or machine learning (ML), to drive more value from their data. More than a third (35%) are already using such technologies consistently across their organisation, while almost half of those surveyed (47%) use them in specific systems.
Moving to the cloud
The survey revealed a wide spectrum when it comes to where data is stored. While just over half (53%) say their data remains on-premises – rising to 71 percent within Central Government – 58% say their data resides in the public cloud and more in Police and Justice (62%) and Central Government (68%) organisations. 56% of respondents (65% within Central Government) said their organisation’s data is spread across multiple cloud services, using different locations for different workloads.
The survey also revealed a lack of knowledge and tools, which could be impacting the delivery of services. With the pandemic requiring people to work from home where possible, 41% said their organisation was unable to access all the data it needs to provide the best service. A similar number (40%) admitted their teams don’t possess the capabilities to understand where their data is held, and how it’s currently being used.
“The survey highlights the continued tension that exists between cloud adoption and the perception that such adoption leads to an increase in cyber risk. In reality, these two factors are not inextricably linked. Cloud adoption can positively reduce risk, as many of the controls that are baked into a modern cloud platform are more comprehensive and better managed than those in on-premises equivalents. However not all data is created equal, so organisations should apply a sense of proportionality when considering where and when cloud is the right option,” Mark Jackson, National Cybersecurity Advisor, Cisco UK & Ireland.
Skills and Capability
Only half (52%) of those surveyed believe they have the resources necessary to understand and drive efficiencies from the data they have, meaning they can’t determine its true value. And a large majority (67%) of public sector organisations currently allocate no more than a few days each month for employees to innovate and research ways to unlock more value from data, suggesting there just isn’t enough time for them to discover new ways of working. Fortunately, there is growing awareness across public sector of the benefits of tapping into the capabilities and innovation of the UK tech sector with more than half (55%) of those surveyed say their organisation recognises the social value benefits of using specialist British partners to help it safely adopt digital technologies.
Data privacy concerns
More than half of respondents to the survey (53%) say they have concerns about their organisation’s over-reliance on the limited number of global technology providers, rising to 76% in Central Government. A similar number (54%) express concern about the possible misuse of their organisation’s data.
This survey of more than 300 respondents across the UK public sector, healthcare and defence, provides an insight into the sector's adoption of digital technologies. The survey made it clear that there is still a lack of understanding over the amount of data that is reliant on these technology platforms, and some organisations are simply unaware of all the locations where their data may reside. There were positive findings which are encouraging such as the fact that those survey reported actively evaluating the use of digital technologies and that two-thirds of those surveyed believe that better use of their data is key to delivering better services.
Improving Skill Initiatives in Technology Businesses in 2021
According to Tech Nation’s most recent , UK technology companies now employ more than 2.93 million people, with the sector seeing a 40% growth in the last two years. The new world of work and the uptick in digitalisation caused by the pandemic with the mass uptake of digital services and online communications has meant that the technology sector has seen a huge demand for specific skills across the job market.
Whilst many businesses have done well to adapt to the digital transformation witnessed over the last few years, this rapid advancement of technology has also resulted in widespread difficulties recruiting experienced tech employees. McKinsey reported that over of organisations have reported huge digital skills gaps, which suggest that whilst most tech businesses are aware of and actively trying to tackle these issues, many are struggling to do so effectively.
To remain competitive and overcome this shortage of skilled workers, technology businesses must look at how they can upskill current employees, move employees to new areas of the business, and ensure their technology talent is as up to date as possible.
So how can tech businesses stay ahead of the skills curve this year?
Make an inventory of desired skills – and offer training for them
To introduce effective skilling programmes within technology businesses, management teams should identify and agree on skills that the business is in greatest need of – both in the immediate and longer terms.
Over the past three years, demand for tech skills such as AI, cyber and cloud automation has with AI and cyber in particular growing by 44% and 22% year on year, respectively, from 2019. For many tech businesses, these skills will continue to be desirable for the business to progress, and senior leadership teams must agree on what skills the business wants to prioritise in its workforce.
Next, management teams should then look to create an inventory of these desired skills and also identify what job roles need to be introduced to further this expertise within the business. This can be done through hiring external candidates or even introducing a programme that current employees can take to develop these particular skills.
This technique requires technology businesses to be malleable in their approach, and they can therefore look to introduce training that builds on these skills gaps or even move employees around the business to utilise their existing skills in areas that are most needed.
Incentivise the workforce
Finally, a good way to develop the skills available amongst the workforce in a technology business is to ensure employees are excited about the prospect. If new candidates and existing members of the team feel included in the approach, can see a benefit in taking additional training and feel motivated to further their own career progression, this could be the tech companies’ strongest asset.
For example, companies such as Amazon have set the bar for investing in reskilling and upskilling to keep their entire workforce motivated and, most importantly, up-to-speed. As many people join Amazon, some without any previous educational qualifications to some possessing PHDs, the business’s skilling programme is provided to give all employees the skills they need to either move up at Amazon or move on to a qualified position outside of the company. By offering this training, employees are motivated to think of their own career and future, and Amazon has the benefit of seeing the operational and financial benefits of a skilled, engaged workforce.
According to recent research completed by , software development, cloud migration and project management experience are top of the list for hiring managers in 2021, with tech-specific skills being some of the most in-demand across all sectors. The pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated this increased demand for technology skills and talent, and industry leaders are at a pivotal stage to ensure their workers’ skills sets are up-to-date and being utilised effectively within the business.
For tech businesses that wish to attract this new talent as well as keeping current employees engaged and competitive within the industry, bosses must not only incentivise their workers with skilling programmes, but they must work to identify what skills they are in most need of and then put the necessary training programmes in place.