Manufacturers face skills and internal collaboration hurdles to digital transformation

Skills shortage is biggest challenge to digital strategies of 40% of senior IT decision-makers in North America and Western Europe, survey shows

Manufacturers face challenges in acquiring the right IT skills and improving collaboration between their IT teams and the business.

According to a survey by Forbes Insights and open source software maker Alfresco, 40% of senior IT decision-makers in North America and Western Europe say a skills shortage is their biggest challenge in taking their digital strategies forward.

About one-third see a lack of collaboration between their IT department and business teams as a problem.

Most (80%) see the agility that digital transformation brings as more important than cost savings, with 78% confident that they will be able to launch new products and services more quickly.

John Newton, CTO at Alfresco Software, said the report, The great rethink: how digital leaders are building tomorrow’s organisations, revealed a more severe digital transformation skills shortage in manufacturing than in most other sectors.

“But it is not insurmountable,” he said. “Rather, manufacturers should look at how digital transformation initiatives can deliver real impact across the value chain, including employees, partners and suppliers, enabling better collaboration and knowledge-sharing.”

Manufacturers have opportunities to improve their operations across all business activities. Examples include automating the sourcing of raw materials, manufacturing using 3D printers and improving logistics through tracking software.

However, 91% of respondents to the survey realise that digital transformation requires fundamental changes to their business model. And 71% understand that although successful initiatives are driven from the top, CIOs must own and drive the digital transformation strategy.

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This chimes with the views of CIOs who responded to a recent Gartner survey. The industry analyst said that in the remaining months of this year and throughout 2018, CIOs will switch to a business executive role as organisations are transformed by digital technology. Its survey of more than 3,000 CIOs in 98 countries revealed that 95% expect their jobs to change over the next 15 months because of digitisation.

“The digital economy favours those who consistently demonstrate agility and do things differently,” said Alfresco’s Newton. “The flexible, digitised manufacturer will invest in technologies, including open source platforms, to create value across the extended enterprise, and in the process, deliver on innovation, revenue growth and customer satisfaction.”

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