Lack of skills means 42% of businesses have cancelled digital projects

More than four in 10 (42%) UK businesses have cancelled digital projects in the past two years, losing on average £483,690 each time, a study by Fujitsu has found.

Its global Digital Transformation PACT study revealed that 73% of UK leaders felt there was a clear lack of digital skills, and 87% believed attracting “digitally native staff” would be vital to their success in the next three years.

A lack of digital skills was the biggest hindrance to cyber security efforts for 82% of respondents, while two-thirds worry that this will hamper their ability to adapt to artificial intelligence as it becomes more important for businesses in the coming years.

The cost of cancelled digital projects in the UK was higher than the global average, according to Fujitsu – £483,690 as opposed to £423,534 – and globally, a third had cancelled projects, compared with 42% in the UK.

Fujitsu’s research found that customers were the biggest drivers for digital transformation, cited by 58% of organisations. Almost half (26%) have already delivered digital transformation projects and seen results, it added. Almost eight in 10 (79%) were prepared to adapt their business models to respond to technological change.

“UK businesses know how powerful technology can be and want to use digital to deliver for customers and keep ahead of the competition,” said ‎Ravi Krishnamoorthi, head of business consulting, digital and application services at Fujitsu EMEIA.

“However, digital transformation is about much more than the technology alone. Businesses need to have the right skills, processes and partnerships in place – and that’s where we’re seeing UK executives struggling. We’re living in a time when digital disruption can change the business landscape virtually overnight, so UK organisations must ensure that they can transform successfully and secure their place in the global landscape.”

Targeted recruitment

In terms of responding to the lack of digital skills, the most popular measures are targeted recruitment (49%) and apprenticeships (40%). Almost two-thirds (65%) have undertaken or are planning to undertake co-creation projects with partners, and 77% would be willing to share sensitive information for these projects to succeed.

Krishnamoorthi added: “The pace of technological change is only continuing to grow, and UK businesses must adapt if they are to keep up with their competition worldwide.

“Businesses must take steps to address their skills gaps, including upskilling their existing staff and attracting new talent. Executives have to instil a culture that fosters and supports innovation, with the processes in place to make use of new tools. And finally all UK organisations must recognise the power of true collaboration, to deliver extraordinary new ideas.”

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