Only 29% of IT leaders believe that their workforce is ready to meet the challenges of cloud computing, according to a recent report from Rackspace. The report, released Thursday, also noted that businesses are losing out on $258 million in revenue per year due to a lack of cloud expertise.

These leaders aren’t simply losing out financially, however. According to the report, some 65% of those surveyed said they could bring more innovation to their company with the proper cloud-driven insights.

In the report, 71% of IT leaders said that their organization had directly lost money as a result of not having the right cloud professionals. Additionally, the report said, 42% believe that their skill shortage was holding them back from being able to properly deploy cloud platforms.

SEE: Research: Cloud vs. data center adoption rates, usage, and migration plans (Tech Pro Research)

The report, which surveyed 1,900 IT decision makers and professionals, provided a host of insights around cloud adoption. But one thing was certain–human experts are still very much in demand.

“While the rise of Artificial Intelligence and automation may cause some to think that human insight is less important, our report shows that this is not the case,” Rackspace CTO John Engates said in a press release. “With technology and the cloud now underpinning business transformation, the growing technology skills gap means organisations must have a strategy to access the expertise needed. Those that don’t will struggle to be competitive and innovative.”

Of those that had implemented cloud strategies, 48% said they had already seen positive returns, and 39% said they expected a positive ROI in the future. However, that doesn’t mean that the process has been easy: Some 44% noted that managing the cloud was taking more time than expected.

Finding cloud talent is also an issue, the report said, with 46% of IT leaders saying they struggled to recruit the right talent. The three biggest barriers to hiring talent was industry competition (33%), inability to offer a competitive salary (30%), and inability to offer sufficient training to prospective recruits (25%).

To properly address the skills gap that may be present in an organization, the report’s authors suggested splitting IT into separate streams, working to develop a strategy for needed cloud skills, and performing a full assessment of their cloud ecosystem to determine necessary skills.

“Finding, attracting and retaining tech talent is critical to business survival, and yet it is increasingly competitive for companies to find the technical talent they need as demand surges for such skillsets,” Mariano Mamertino, EMEA economist at job site Indeed, said in the release. “Our data shows there is a global mismatch between the cloud roles advertised versus those being searched by IT professionals, which could accelerate the growth of a cloud skills gap.”

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. According to a Rackspace report, some 71% of IT leaders said that their employees need more training to meet the challenges set forth by the cloud.
  2. A lack of cloud expertise is causing big businesses to lose out on $258 million in revenue every year.
  3. A skills shortage is also making it harder to hire cloud pros, with 46% of survey respondents noting that they struggled to recruit the right talent.