Security is the largest factor standing in the way of enterprise digital transformation efforts, according to a new report from technology solutions company SoftServe. More than half (55%) of companies said that security was the No. 1 challenge they face when implementing digital enablement technologies, the report found.

SEE: Digital transformation: A CXO’s guide (TechRepublic)

This follows news of a widespread shortage of security professionals across all enterprises. Some 57% of businesses recently reported major issues finding and recruiting talented IT security staff–a problem as digital transformation efforts move more data and systems to the cloud, and cyber attacks grow more sophisticated.

Other than security, budgetary constraints were a major challenge for 50% of enterprises–which makes sense, the report noted, as IT budgets are largely predicted to remain flat in 2017. Digital transformation efforts are often costly, with more than half of companies spending at least $1 million on these projects, according to another recent survey from SADA Systems.

Other obstacles to digital transformation plans included a lack of strategy across the organization (31%), a lack of required skills (27%), and competing interests (26%). Just 11% reported a lack of clear business case, the report found, so most businesses seem to understand the advantages digital transformation can provide.

Digital transformation efforts are underway at most organizations, the report found: Some 27% of enterprises said they have implemented a transformative strategy across their entire business, while 46% said they have implemented it across parts of their business. And 25% said they planned to adopt digital strategies in the future. Only 2% of businesses surveyed said they had no plans to adopt digital transformation.

SEE: What CEOs are getting wrong when it comes to digital transformation (TechRepublic)

“It’s clear that most businesses understand that digital transformation is an inevitability,” said Robert Corace, executive vice president for digital disruption at SoftServe. “If businesses want to keep pace with or get ahead of faster-moving rivals and disruptive new market entrants, they’re going to have to get on board.”

The report is based on a recent survey completed by 300 respondents, made up of decision makers in medium to large organizations in the US and the UK across business and professional services, manufacturing, financial services, retail, distribution and transport, and other commercial sectors.

Most decision makers surveyed said they trust in-house talent to navigate digital transformation efforts: 76% of respondents said they would seek advice on implementing new technologies from internal IT or business experts, with smaller numbers looking to industry analysts (13%), vendors (6%), and media articles (5%).

Respondents also split on who takes ownership of digital efforts: 25% said the CIO, while 23% said the CEO. As the role of the CIO changes, it’s important for these tech leaders to prove that they have the skills to lead digital transformation projects and align IT capabilities to business outcomes, Marc Cecere, vice president and principal analyst on Forrester’s CIO role team, told TechRepublic.

“CIOs are in a unique position to elevate their role in the organization,” Cecere said. “If they have the skills, take advantage of it–show your organization you know the mechanics of doing such a transformation.”

SEE: IT leader’s guide to achieving digital transformation (Tech Pro Research)

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

1. Some 55% of companies say security was the top challenge they faced when implementing digital transformation projects, according to a new survey from SoftServe.

2. Other top digital transformation obstacles included budgetary constraints, a lack of strategy across the organization, a lack of required skills, and competing interests.

3. While respondents were split on who leads digital transformation efforts between the CIO and CEO, CIOs who want to take on these projects have the chance to elevate their role by connecting IT to business outcomes, experts say.