Emerging Tech Trends Show Major IT 'Skills Gaps'

Growth In IT

After narrowly averting the fiscal cliff, attention is once again drawn to getting America back to work. As the technology landscape continues to shift, the IT sector has continued to show signs of hiring growth. However, meeting those growth needs will prove difficult in 2013 due in part to security concerns and what IBM, in its Fast Track to the Future: The 2012 IBM Tech Trends Report, refers to as the "skills gap."

In a survey of 1,200 professionals who make technology decisions for their organization from 16 different industries among 13 different countries, as well as more than 250 academics and 450 students across those same countries, IBM's report looks at the emerging technology trends that will shape 2013, asking respondents how well they feel their organizations and institutions are prepared to handle them. Here's a look at the report's most significant findings.

Tech Trends Overview

Among respondents, the report found that 49 percent globally said their organizations have adopted mobile, 39 percent have adopted cloud, 34 percent have adopted social business and 54 percent have adopted business analytics. And, over the next two years, more than 25 percent of enterprises plan to increase investment in the four pivotal technologies by 10 percent, according to the report.

Although a number of organizations have already begun tackling these growth areas, as the survey demonstrates, in order for companies to scale to meet that continued growth, they will need to bring on new skill sets. "Across all four technology areas -- mobile, business analytics, cloud and social business -- only one in 10 organizations has the skills it needs," the report said.

And, 75 percent of students and educators, or three out of four, reported a moderate to major gap when it comes to meeting the skill needs of the IT workforce, according to the survey.

Mobile Breakdown

Of the 13 countries surveyed by IBM, Germany and Spain led the pack with 70 percent of each county's respondents reporting that their organizations have adopted mobile computing, followed by South Africa at 64 percent, Canada with 63 percent, and the U.S. and U.K tying with 57 percent each. Italy, with 27 percent, and China, at 24 percent, trailed the most in mobile adoption.

However, when it came to skills gaps within mobile, Japan topped out with 80 percent of respondents reporting moderate to major skills gaps, followed by France at 72 percent, the U.S. with 70, the U.K. at 66 percent, and Germany and China tying at 65 percent, respectively. On the opposite end, Brazil was the most confident with its mobile skills, with only 33 percent reporting moderate to major skills gaps.

And, across all those surveyed, 43 percent of respondents said their security policies do not meet the needs of mobile.

Cloudy IT Landscape

In terms of cloud adoption, Spain and India came out ahead with 57 percent of respondents from each country reporting that their organizations have adopted cloud, according to IBM's survey. Brazil came in next with 53 percent, followed by Japan at 48 percent, South Africa with 47 percent, and Russia and the U.K. tying with 45 percent. The U.S. came in at 36 percent, whereas Italy trailed the rest at 16 percent of survey respondents stating their organizations have adopted cloud, with Canada at 23 percent and Germany at 29 percent.

Despite Italy's meager cloud adoption, only 64 percent of respondents claimed to have moderate to major skills gaps, whereas Canada showed the least amount of confidence in its cloud skills, with 81 percent. In Japan, 71 percent noted the cloud skills deficit, followed by the U.S. and China at 70 percent each.

Among students and educators, only 6 percent reported having sufficient cloud skills being taught within their institutions to meet the work needs of the IT workforce.

Social Business Seeks Security, Skills

When it comes to adopting social business, Brazil led with 57 percent of respondents saying their organizations have adopted social business, followed by South Africa with 56 percent, Spain at 49 percent, and India and the U.S. each with 38 percent, according to the survey.

Of the countries that felt they had moderate to major skills gaps, Japan and France led with 75 percent, followed by Canada at 72 percent, the U.S. at 68 percent and the U.K. with 63 percent. India felt the most confident in its social business skills, with only 28 percent of respondents reporting a deficiency in needed skills sets.

According to the report, security poses a primary concern when it comes to both adoption of and confidence in social business. To address this, it recommends organizations, as well as IT practitioners, focus on three main areas: customer privacy expectations, regulatory compliance and employee guidelines, with emphasis on confidentiality, acceptable use and corporate brand protection.

Big Business In Business Analytics

With the need to streamline business processes and cut costs, business analytics has been on the rise. And, according to the survey, Spain led with 74 percent of respondents reporting that their organizations have adopted business analytics, followed by South Africa with 67 percent, Brazil with 63 percent, Russia at 62 and the U.S. with 58 percent.

However, security still weighs heavily on most organization's minds, with the report naming it the second most-noted barrier when it comes to adopting business analytics. "Even in business analytics, where data typically stays inside an organization's firewall, securing and controlling access to data still places as the number-two barrier to adoption," the report said.

As such, a number of respondents reported having moderate to major skills gaps within business analytics, with Japan leading at 76 percent, China at 74 percent, France at 68 percent, Germany with 64 percent and the U.S. with 62 percent. At 19 percent, Brazil felt the most confident in its business analytics skills.