Legacy IT systems and infrastructure revealed as UK’s top digital transformation challenge

Expleo, a global engineering, technology and consulting service provider, has published the results of new research that points to an increased urgency in digital transformation programmes. Upgrading legacy IT systems and infrastructure was identified as the top challenge to success, cited by 58% of respondents.

Concerns around internal IT teams being too stretched (54%) and cybersecurity (51%) follow closely as the other top barriers to the success of transformation projects in the UK.

Despite these challenges, business and IT leaders are bullish in their attitude to investment: 75% of UK respondents expect to increase tech budgets by at least 10% in the next five years, with nearly two in five (38%) anticipating an increase in budget of over 30%. Work has already begun, with UK organisations having accelerated their digital transformation plans by an average of 11 months in response to Covid-19.

Expleo commissioned a survey of 1,030 business and IT leaders from large organisations across France, Germany, Ireland, the UK and the US to understand the motivations and effectiveness of business transformation projects worldwide. This research informs Expleo’s “Business Transformation Index 2022”, a new report providing a comprehensive analysis of the critical success factors of such programmes.

Half of respondents believe skills shortage is a major barrier to achieving digital transformation

Of those surveyed, nearly half (49%) of UK respondents believe the skills gap and talent shortages are the main challenges to achieving business transformation, and 82% believe that skills shortages in technical disciplines are having an impact on their organisation’s future plans.

Businesses understand they need to be more proactive in the adoption of automation to tackle these issues. In fact, over a third (34%) already view process automation as a potential solution to addressing staff shortages.

However, there is also a need to address the skills gap – as 72% of leaders believe that a lack of skills or experience internally to competently manage emerging technologies (such as AI/ML and AR/VR) is a problem when implementing new digital transformation initiatives.

Bold approaches to digital technologies will lead to success

Looking to the future, the research found that business and IT leaders are adopting a proactive mindset. In the UK, 61% of respondents believe that a bold approach to digital technologies will leave them better placed to succeed, a figure in line with global findings. By comparison, just 27% believe that a cautious approach that waits for technology to mature is more likely to lead to success.

Despite the overall preference for a bold approach, 61% also believe that not having a sufficiently bold vision is a problem when their organisation is implementing new digital transformation initiatives, demonstrating a disconnect between their ambitions and how they are operating in practice.

Stephen Magennis, Managing Director of Expleo UK Technology, commented: “We’re now living in an increasingly tech-centric world, and the pandemic has truly highlighted the importance of being digitally agile. Businesses need to be ready to adapt quickly to changes in market conditions and consumer behaviours, but many companies are still unaware of exactly how to succeed on a digital transformation journey.

Our research finds that success in transformation is reliant on commitment from all corners of an organisation. From top management buy-in and boldness of vision to the raising of digital skills levels across teams, an end-to-end continuous improvement mentality needs to be encouraged.

Many organisations will benefit from working with third parties who can support them on this journey through their deep understanding of technology and learnings across industries. Expert support helps businesses to change direction nimbly with speed and confidence – and pull away from competitors in the process.”

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