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Digital transformation more relevant than ever – but the Digital Skill Gap still exists
Latest research by Technical University of Munich reveals that the awareness of the importance of digital skills is greater than ever. However, a systematic approach to close the skills gap remains an exception.

In June this year, the Technical University of Munich published the study “Skills for Digital Transformation”, conducted among SAP User Groups worldwide. This survey followed up on research back in 2015, with the objective to measure any progress on this topic. The recent study outlines that companies recognize the increasing importance of digital technologies for their businesses. It also helps companies prioritize skill development.

A staggering 90 percent of the study respondents perceive digital transformation as being important for their company’s overall business strategy, and half of them have established a vision of the digital future of their company accordingly. Although digital transformation impacts all industries and nearly all areas of a business – from the design of technology-enabled business models to efficient, highly automated operations - most companies are still lacking a clearly defined Digital Transformation strategy (37 percent of respondents).

In 2015, 53 percent of the respondents claimed that their company does not have the personnel with the skills necessary for digital transformation. In 2017, this number even increased to 64 percent. The study concludes that the digital skill gap has not been closed yet and that lacking digital skills are still among the top barriers to digital transformation. Possible explanations are the increasing speed of technological innovation and the perceived importance of digital transformation. Most of the required skills for successful digital transformation are considered as even more important than two years ago. The top runners among the 14 key skills are digital security, mobile technologies, business change management, and big data analytics. Nevertheless, even in 2017 no commodity skills have emerged. The respondents experience a substantial skill gap in all skill domains. Targeted skill development including dedicated recruitment or training programs to build up the skill base has significantly improved by 60 percent compared to 2015, but still leaves room for improvement.

In collaboration with the European Research Center for Information Systems (ERCIS), SAP SE is currently identifying best practices as part of a maturity model how companies develop the skills for the digital transformation successfully. Key is a systematic recruiting and skill development plan to up-skill existing roles and learn for new job roles based on a learning needs analysis. It also includes activities to change the learning culture within companies towards self-directed, collaborative, and continuous learning enabled by an integrated learning management system. Details on this maturity model and the identified best practices will be published soon.