Over a quarter of European companies are confronted with a lack of IT skills

Barneveld, 16 November 2021 - A lack of dedicated IT skills in the organization (27%), resistance to organizational change (26%), and the absence of a clear digital strategy (23%) are the main challenges holding European organizations back from digitally transforming their business. This is evident from new research commissioned by Fellowmind, a leading European Microsoft partner that helps accelerate the digital readiness of companies by utilizing cloud solutions. The People & Technology Report 2022, which was conducted by research agency Markteffect among more than 3,000 IT and business decision-makers in six European countries, also shows that 49% of the respondents invested in online collaboration tools. In addition, over a third educate and inspire their personnel to drive digital transformation, and 31% hire senior-level employees or digital natives to be future-ready.

"We live in fascinating times, in which digitalization goes hand in hand with cultural change", says Emiel Putman, founder and CEO of Fellowmind. "The results of our study show that although the post-pandemic world is clearly digital, many organizations were initially insufficiently prepared. Over the past year and a half, many companies made significant investments in their digital infrastructure and the empowerment of employees through smart digital solutions. This finding aligns with our vision that non-digital business will become extinct in a few years as digital technology plays a vital part in every organization. With that in mind, it is crucial to ensure that people adopt and enjoy working with technology. It is our mission to support customers in transforming their business for a digital era in which people are at heart, making use of technology that works for them."

"It is our mission to support customers in transforming their business for a digital era in which people are at heart, making use of technology that works for them."

Emiel Putman, CEO Fellowmind

Impact of COVID-19
The Fellowmind People & Technology Report 2022 shows that in Finland (73%) and Denmark (73%), almost three-quarters of the respondents acknowledge that COVID-19 had a transformational impact. Organizations in these countries hire digital natives and experienced tech-savvies on a senior level to further drive this digital transformation. The pandemic had the least impact on the acceleration of digital transformation in the Netherlands; 33% of the respondents indicated that COVID-19 did not drive the digital transformation of their organization.

The most frequently used ways to drive innovation and digital transformation in larger organizations (1000+ employees) is to invest in employees. Almost half (43%) of the IT and business decision-makers from these companies invest in hiring experienced tech-savvies at senior level and 44% invest in hiring digital natives who are versed in IT and technology. Overall, however, we see that 38% of all respondents opt to internally educate and inspire employees, compared to 31% for hiring new personnel.

Finnish and Danish companies in the lead regarding AI
To not only cater better to employees but also to customers, about half of the respondents in the researched countries (the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Poland, Finland, and Denmark) utilize AI (46%) in their client communications and/or services. Finland (76%) and Denmark (73%) are clearly in the lead in this regard. In addition, nearly three-quarters of the Finnish (73%) and Danish (71%) IT and business managers use robotics, compared to the average of 43% in the six countries.

In comparison, less than a quarter of the respondents in the Netherlands use AI (22%) or robotics (22%). In addition, nearly half of the Dutch IT and business managers are not even planning to invest in AI (40%) or robotics (48%) in the future. The main reasons for this lack of interest in both AI and robotics are that respondents do not see the added value, and fear that investment costs are high.

AI popular among larger companies and within finance
AI and robotics are generally more prevalent among larger organizations, which is not surprising due to their larger budgets and willingness to invest. In contrast, more than half of the respondents from smaller organizations (2-50 employees) do not use AI (52%) or use robotics (59%) to improve client communications and/or services. Their main argument is that they do not see the added value of AI (43%) or robotics (48%).

When viewing the fields of expertise in which the respondents are active, we see that more than three-quarters of the IT and business managers in the financial sector (76%) already utilize AI to improve their client communications and/or services. In addition, robotics is used by 70% of the respondents in this sector. These percentages are higher than the averages for AI (46%) and robotics (43%) in other fields of expertise – including manufacturing, retail, and health – combined.