Address the digital skills gap in your organisation through automation
Access to digitally savvy talent is a critical component of successful digital transformation, as well as broader business transformation. However, we are also witnessing a shortage in digital skills across the Asia-Pacific region, which is presenting a challenge to organizations looking to transform and drive business growth.
According to Deloitte's Thailand Digital Transformation Survey (2020), the biggest challenges organizations faced when implementing digital transformation were a lack of expertise (49 percent), an immature digital culture (45 percent), and organizational silos (37 percent).
Thailand is becoming more aware of the importance of digital skills. The Ministry of Labour recently established the Digital Skill Development Academy (DISTA), a new agency to oversee the development of digital skills for the workforce. This is a central agency within the Ministry of Skill Development. However, according to the Office of the Higher Education Commission (OHEC), all the graduates from 154 institutions across the country, only 13,984 (5.09 percent of the total) graduated from Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) at the bachelor's level in 2020.
According to Assistant Professor Dr Kemathat Vibhatavanij, Associate Dean for Communication and Digital Development, Faculty of Engineering, Kasetsart University, employers in the job market are currently looking for five skills: 1) Software engineers (programmers and project managers); 2) Networking and security engineers, (including security managers; 3) Datacenter and Cloud personnel (including virtualization, networks and laws related to them); 4) Personnel capable of managing legacy IT systems by deploying digital technology, such as IT governance, data governance and security governance knowledge; and 5) Personnel without an exact technological degree who are aware of and understand how to deploy software.
Whatever the key skill, all IT graduates must be able to manage their use of technology, understand the legal implications of its implementation and achieve a healthy work-life balance.
Another critical factor today is the importance of cloud and automation, which includes virtualization, software-defined (almost) everything, and a network of computer systems linked from a datacenter to edge computing. These ecosystems allow students to learn and practice skills necessary to meet the needs of the industry, while supplying the labour market with personnel capable of digital mindset and digital technology integration.
In every business, employee upskilling and reskilling are critical. KTBST Securities (PCL) has established a five-year IT strategy to implement technology for process development.
According to Mr Pichet Sriwongyartdee, executive vice president, Information Technology, KTBST Securities (PCL), getting the workforce on board is as important as finding the right solutions in order for the financial sector to leapfrog the use of technology. To keep up with the organization's IT plans, employees must be quick starters and flexible. When employees recognize the benefits of technology and use it to its full potential, it will be at its most effective. Implementing new technology in conjunction with legacy work processes must be a learning-by-doing process. Employees will be able to see the benefits of learning new skills by comparing the results with previous processes. All employees at KTBST have embraced this concept because it allows them to apply new skills to their jobs.
The vast majority of businesses are adopting cutting-edge technologies such as cloud computing and automation. According to Nutanix's Enterprise Cloud Index (ECI), Thai organizations are switching to the cloud largely because of its ability to support customer needs (67 percent), followed by security (62 percent), and remote operation support (62 percent). A hybrid cloud is the preferred cloud solution for all businesses.
For KTBST SEC, the cloud has enabled IT infrastructure to allocate resources more efficiently. In addition, the company has implemented an automated system, including operations orchestration, to help reduce human error. Employees now have more time to focus on value-added rather than manual tasks. Cloud computing and automation also reduce critical OPEX costs.
Skilled migration as a talent source is one lever that we currently cannot pull as international travel bans are in place for many countries and may continue for the foreseeable future.
In response to these challenges, organisations are turning to emerging technologies to remain competitive, ensure business continuity, and help address talent needs.
Manual, labor-intensive traditional IT blocks productivity and impacts the business ability to respond agily to a changing environment. Automation, once viewed negatively as taking jobs away from humans, is seeing an increase in uptake as a way to move to a more on-demand IT as a Service model. In fact, the latest Enterprise Cloud Index from Nutanix revealed that 31 percent of respondents see automation as a key priority for the next 12 to 18 months. By reducing human intervention in processes such as deploying user environments, managing database lifecycle, and deploying cloud workloads, if frees up scarce digital skills capacity to focus on tasks that offer the business higher economic advantage.
Mr Pichet added that automation will help increase employees’ capabilities by enabling them to focus on analytical thinking, which they will use with automation to improve efficiency. Rather than seeing the system compete for the workforce, this is a process in which people and systems collaborate. When compared to manual operation, KTBST SEC's technology deployment to assist in data storage and processing, analyzing, reporting, etc. has reduced operating time by up to 80 percent and improved OPEX cost-effectiveness by 30 percent.
As far as the adoption of automation around the world, the Asia-Pacific region has been an epicentre for its acceleration. According to the International Federation of Robotics, Singapore is the most automated country in the world with 918 robots installed per every 10,000 employees. South Korea (868 robots) and Japan (364 robots) are in second and third place, respectively.
Freeing up the IT team to focus on projects that move the needle for the organisation drives efficiencies and increased productivity. Not to mention, when IT admins and engineers are reassigned into more high-level, engaging activities, they benefit from watching their skills grow. And for the business overall, they are able to enjoy improved employee retention in addition to the economic advantages.
In 2021, organisations must continue to find new ways to tackle old challenges and optimise business processes, and automation is a key factor in helping improve efficiencies, whether it be to close the digital skills gap, for cost savings, or to realise more long-term benefits for your company.
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