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Ensono Engage: Skills and the Future of Work

Simon Ratcliffe

Simon Ratcliffe
Principal Consultant, Advisory

Innovation, customer experience and digital disruption makes hard to acquire talent imperative for success

“The rapid pace of digital transformation is changing the nature of business in the UK and we must not only equip the next generation, but those in the workforce today with the skills industries need.”

Alex Hilton, keynote speaker at Ensono Engage and Cloud Industry Forum’s Chief Executive

Ensono’s inaugural client and partner event, Ensono Engage, involved a measured review of current and future digital transformation strategies, along with the challenges and opportunities technology presents. We were lucky to have Alex Hilton, CEO at Cloud Industry Forum, take to the stage for the keynote. His presentation covered the future of work, with a particular focus on the skills required for the next wave of disruption, from blockchain and AI to Robotic Process Automation and IoT.

During his presentation, Alex highlighted Gartner research that demonstrated how 1 in 4 enterprise organisations are unable to utilise AI to its full potential. They do not employ enough qualified data scientists to meet the requirements of machine learning and AI.

Ensono sees first-hand the pressing requirement for high-level specialist skills emerging technologies, such as AI, IoT, cloud and mobile computing, RPA and Big Data are driving. As a hybrid IT provider, we also see a real skills gap within legacy technologies, such as mainframe, and have witnessed large enterprises struggling to maintain their existing technology whilst also trying to attract new talent.

Technology skills are a perennial issue for every enterprise organisation looking to maintain competitive advantage, to innovate and to deliver new revenue streams whilst also managing their legacy estates effectively. Those that manage to attract and retain the best talent will be the ones that benefit most from the current wave of disruption.

Skills proved to be a theme throughout the morning with a prominent focus during the panel discussion too. Bryan Glick, editor in chief at Computer Weekly hosted the panel and asked the experts in the room how organisations should address the skills gap to survive and thrive in the current climate.

During the panel discussion, Alex Hilton returned to his keynote message and urged organisations to address the issue with a structured training programme. He also likened the digital skills gap with the Japanese rugby skills issue. In the 2019 World Cup, the Japanese team came out of nowhere to perform extraordinarily well. How did they do this? They developed talent from the grassroots and they brought skills into Japan from outside.

Other industry heavyweights shared their views. Adrian Roberts, of VMware urged organisations to look internally for the “diamonds in the rough” and not just rely on the education system:

“My cloud architecture team has needed to evolve and learn new skills to keep up with the ever-changing multi-cloud computing landscape. In addition to addressing this at education level; we needed to give my team an internal project that applied the emerging principals and technologies. I also encourage you to looked internally to uncover our diamonds in the rough.  Within your team, you probably already have a great talent pool, you may have experienced software developers that may not be utilised to their maximum potential that may require minimal re-training.

“When you think about building new services, look to repurposing your existing talent investment. It’s also really important to think about your approach: give a developer a task and they will do it well. Give them a vision and they will change your business.”

As an industry we need to be smarter about the way we look for people and about the way we train, retrain and retain them. New tech needs new talent but existing people can be taught new skills and only when businesses properly identify and find this balance can they make the most of everything the future holds.

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