Chief Content Officer,
Techstrong Group

The biggest barrier to digital business transformation heading into 2022 appears to be a lack of talent as organizations look to launch multiple IT initiatives.

A global survey of 1,341 IT leaders and decision-makers conducted by Red Hat finds that just over a quarter of respondents (26%) are citing skills as the biggest barrier to transformation, followed closely by technical debt rising from legacy platforms (23%), integration issues (23%), changes to the way IT is managed (22%) and organization resistance (22%).

Not surprisingly, the highest spending priority outside of IT platforms themselves is technical skills training (37%) followed closely by people and process skills training (32%).

Overall, the survey finds that while 14% of respondents describe their organizations as on the leading edge of digital transformation, another 22% say they are accelerating their efforts. That compares to just under a third (31%) that say they are transforming processes to some degree, while another 19% state they are just getting started. Only 3% say their efforts have stalled.

The survey also suggests organizations in the earlier stages of digital business transformation are more likely to be focused on cost reduction and simplification. In contrast, the more organizations move down the path toward digital business transformation, the more they begin to focus on innovation. That dichotomy reflects the increased confidence organizations gain as they move along the digital business transformation maturity curve, noted Stu Miniman, director for market insights for cloud platforms at Red Hat.

Top priorities for the next 12 months cited by survey respondents include modernizing applications (36%), improving digital user experience (31%) and automating business processes (27%.) Emerging technologies that are most likely to be funded include artificial intelligence (AI)/ machine learning (53%) and Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives (49%) and serverless computing platforms (40%).

The top AI/ML challenge organizations face is selecting, deploying, and life cycle management of AI/ML tools and frameworks (35%) followed by the level of collaboration across teams required to deploy ML models in a production environment (25%).

The survey also finds that nearly half of respondents have either established a hybrid cloud computing strategy (33%) or are in the process of defining one (18%). There also appears to be a much greater appreciation of IT security with 46% of respondents identifying it as a high priority, followed by IT cloud management (38%) and cloud infrastructure (35%).

Less clear, however, is the degree to which IT organizations are moving to reduce the total cost of IT by centralizing the management of multiple clouds. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, most organizations opted to employ multiple clouds to advance various digital business transformation initiatives. Each IT organizations heading into 2022 will need to decide to what degree it makes sense for individual fiefdoms to manage their own cloud platforms versus shifting more control back to a centralized IT team that could reduce costs using a common framework to manage multiple clouds.

The core issue, of course, is that not many business units are all that excited about giving up control over what they now perceive to be their digital business transformation destiny, no matter how much savings IT leaders say might otherwise be dropped to the bottom line of the organization. That’s not necessarily a new conflict, but the one thing that is apparent to all involved is the stakes involved are now higher than ever.