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Building greater operational efficiencies, enhancing employee skills and innovation are top priorities for businesses, and technology plays a key role in reaching these goals for 72% of respondents in a new report from the nonprofit IT association CompTIA.

Also high on the priority list are launching products and services, identifying new customers and markets and diversifying revenue sources, CompTIA’s report reveals.

Top use cases for managed tech services

To help businesses meet those objectives, more than half of respondents reported using outsourced tech firms frequently or regularly (57%), while another 29% are doing so occasionally. Nearly one in four indicated they are using a managed service provider for ongoing IT operations management. Firms that outsource more often report higher perceptions of ROI, according to the report.

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The top reported uses of outsourced technology services include:

  1. Tech consulting
  2. Cloud related
  3. Cybersecurity
  4. Software, web or app development, and
  5. Troubleshooting, repair or maintenance related

Emerging tech: A mix of excitement and concern

Nearly half of the firms in CompTIA’s study said they are mostly excited about the potential of technologies that are still in the nascent stages of adoption such as AI, AR and IoT. One in five expressed some caution as well as excitement.

The remaining 36% largely feel apprehensive about the unknowns new technologies bring, according to the report. However, businesses that report a high level of ROI with their current tech tend to have a more positive view of emerging technologies.

Highest business priorities by country

Implementing new systems and work processes to enhance efficiencies was the top priority for respondents from Japan (57%), Australia (54%) and Germany (47%).

In the United Kingdom and the United States, operational efficiencies are on an even par with other objectives — enhancing workforce skills for U.K. companies and launching new products and services for U.S. firms.

Innovation initiatives and cultivating new ideas are top priorities for businesses in the Netherlands and Singapore.

Concerns about automation’s impact on jobs

Technology will continue to impact all types of jobs, and these changes will be both positive and negative, the report noted. Most professionals in CompTIA’s study said they have recently seen articles about robotic process automation, intelligent machines and other automating technologies performing some aspects of jobs or possibly replacing them altogether (71%), especially in Singapore (89%) and the U.S. (81%).

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Regardless, not quite one in five (17%) reported being very concerned that automating technologies may mean fewer jobs for people like them, while another 53% reported being somewhat concerned. Further, two-thirds indicated at least some interest in attaining additional training or hands-on experience with technology as a result of the outlook for how RPA and automating technologies may impact the workforce (67%).

Continuous improvement and professional development are more important now than ever, for organizations and individuals alike, according to the report.

Perceptions about the skills gap and approaches for mitigating it

The great majority of technology and business professionals respondents said they recently saw or heard about the concept of a skills gap (88%) as it relates to real or perceived skills-job role disconnects. Furthermore, one in two respondents reported that the skills gap situation at their firm has grown over the past two years (49%).

One-third of employers acknowledged that unrealistic expectations about skills and experience contribute to exaggerated perceptions of the skills gap; another 52% acknowledge that it is somewhat of a factor. In addition, there is a wide array of workforce gaps employers believe contribute to tech workforce hiring and retention issues such as:

  1. Durable or soft skills gap: Insufficient skill or capability in non-technical areas such as communication.
  2. Innovation gap: Speed of innovation exceeding the pace of training and workforce development.
  3. Wage gap: Market wages for certain positions and skills exceeding employer budgets.
  4. Confidence gap: Prospects deterred by fears, uncertainty or negative perceptions.
  5. Sector gap: Insufficient expertise in specific industry sectors.

Focus on a diverse workforce and professional development

“Business priorities will differ and shift as market conditions change, but two constants are always present as companies seek efficiency, growth and innovation — technology and people,” said Graham Hunter, CompTIA executive vice president for global sales, in a statement.

About eight in 10 technology and business professionals report that leveraging their diverse workforce contributes to innovation. Respondents from Singapore are especially likely to indicate as such (95%), followed by the Netherlands (88%), the U.K. (86%), Australia (84%) and the U.S. (84%).

With the strong reliance on people to help make innovation a reality, companies recognize the need for education and training to help their workers develop new skills. Nearly one-half of executives indicated that their organization requires staff training and professional development.

Another 44% described it as solely voluntary — not required, but encouraged. Mandatory professional development and training are most prevalent in the U.S., Australia, Singapore, the U.K. and Germany.

“Employers struggling to fill key technology job roles must recognize their responsibility to develop talent by making reskilling and upskilling of existing staff a priority,” Hunter said. “Providing internal mobility and career advancement pathways to those already committed to the organization contributes to the sustainability of supply, which is increasingly important when considering talent development.”

Details about this CompTIA survey

CompTIA’s “Business Technology Adoption and Skills Trends” report is based on a July 2022 survey of tech and business executives and professionals involved in setting or executing technology policies and processes within their firm. A total of 1,053 respondents from the U.S., U.K., Netherlands, Japan, Germany, Australia and Singapore participated.

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