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Security & talent concerns hampering UK digital transformation efforts

Image: Adobe Stock / Connect world

The pandemic was a big catalyst for the adoption of cloud technologies. Whilst momentum had been building for a number of years, companies were forced to quickly innovate to adapt to the overnight shift to remote working.

And as the UK now emerges from this period, there is an expectation that enterprises can continue their rapid rollout of digital transformation strategies. However, early evidence is showing that there is still a hesitancy in the adoption of new cloud technologies. In fact, new research from Rackspace Technology has revealed that despite many companies accelerating their digital transformation programmes, just 42% of technology leaders report a willingness to take on risk.

Cloud technology has firmly cemented itself as a crucial business tool in recent years. And never more so than during the pandemic. As such, it remains a key component of many IT strategies moving forward, helping businesses to improve customer experience and ease of use, as well as providing the agility to scale up and down based on demand. The future of cloud is serverless, with a third of companies already using the technology, and many more utilising it to automate workflows, scale IoT applications, and deploy virtual assistants.

However, concerns around security and IT talent have brought a dark cloud over the pursuit of such digital transformation and resulted in a low appetite for risk.

Security challenges stalling innovation

Rackspace Technology’s research found that nearly half of respondents considered security and data privacy concerns to present the top barriers to preventing their organisation from achieving peak cloud benefit and innovation in the space. Almost nine in 10 respondents are either running applications on serverless or planning to in the next three years and half cited security specifically as a barrier to adoption.

A decade ago, this fear wouldn’t have been so irrational. Cloud security certainly wasn’t what it is today. Indeed, cloud security is no longer just trying to keep up with the security of on-premises – it now paves the way for data privacy and security. That’s why even our national security service is willing to put its trust in the cloud to protect the country’s top secrets. 

When identifying the right cloud for your sensitive data that requires maximum security, you need to be considering a multitude of factors, including encryption, data redundancy and geo-replication, and administrator controls. Indeed, not all clouds are made equal. Every platform excels in different areas – and that’s why taking a multi-cloud approach can have crucial benefits. Despite commonly cited concerns, introducing additional cloud partners strengthens security rather than diluting or complicating it. 

Talent concerns an inescapable reality

Many industries are currently feeling the squeeze from talent shortages, and tech is no different. The great resignation is impacting almost all industries, so it is not a surprise that the second most commonly reported challenge is the talent shortage, which is in turn exacerbating leaders’ security challenges. In fact, the talent shortage is inhibiting organisations’ adoption of new development methods in their DevOps and is presenting a significant barrier to serverless adoption.

Businesses are bolstering their efforts to attract new IT talent by promoting training and development opportunities, increasing salaries and promoting opportunities for hybrid and remote working. And the same incentives are being offered to current employees to help curb staff turnover.

In the face of this, companies need to change how they approach recruitment. Instead of hiring like-for-like replacements, enterprises need to be more flexible with the exact skills they are after. They can then move towards more agile teams based on combinations of people, rather than fixed hierarchical structures. This ensures they can continue to give all their staff the support and flexibility they need to do their jobs.

Partners at the core to overcoming these concerns

Whether it’s moving to a multicloud environment, application of business processes, or the adoption of new technologies like serverless computing and the edge, digital innovation is at the core of many organisations’ business strategies. But it is evident that the current security landscape has put a dark cloud over many organisations’ technology ambitions, with IT leaders facing immense pressure between the pursuit of innovation and taking on greater risk through the adoption of new technologies. This has been further aggravated by the talent shortage that continues to plague the IT and security sectors.

To ensure that businesses don’t have to stall their digital transformation projects, or take on undue risk in pursuing them due to a lack of skills, IT leaders should look for partners that can bring greater expertise and resources to help them continue to innovate safely. Nearly half of technology leaders are now working with external strategic partners for support with security, IT strategy, managed services, and training, helping them to balance the risk presented by security and talent concerns and the pursuit of innovation.

Picture of Andy Brierley
Andy Brierley
UK General Manager at Rackspace Technology

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