Business enthusiasm over innovation and emerging tech tempered by cybersecurity and workforce concerns, new CompTIA report reveals

Businesses in Australia identify innovation as a top priority and are intrigued by the potential of emerging technologies, according to a new report from CompTIA, the leading trade association for the global information technology (IT) industry.

At the same time, concerns about cybersecurity readiness and the struggle to find enough workers with the right skills to meet their workforce needs add a measure of caution to their expectations and plans for 2020, CompTIA’s “International Trends in Technology and Workforce” finds.

The survey of business and technology professionals in Australia and 13 other countries identified business priorities for 2020, as well as perceptions of emerging technologies, cybersecurity, workforce skills, professional development strategies, and the future of work.

Tim Herbert, executive vice president for research and market intelligence, CompTIA, said, “The ingredients for innovation have never been more accessible, and tech hubs can now be found in nearly every corner of the globe. While the research points to momentum on many fronts, there remains much work to be done in helping businesses and workers navigate the path ahead.”

The business of technology

With global spending on hardware, software, services and telecom projected to reach nearly $5.2 trillion globally this year, with $93 billion in Australia alone, it’s evident that technology has a growing and integral role in business operations.(1)  95 per cent of Australian companies rate technology as a primary or secondary factor in reaching their business objectives.

The large majority of companies (87 per cent) turn to outside providers to assist with their technology requirements. Consulting and strategy services, cybersecurity, software development, web design and e-commerce and repair and maintenance are among the most common outsourced services. A majority of companies (62 per cent) also report that they get excellent or good return on investment (ROI) from their technology spending.

Emerging tech momentum builds

One half of Australian businesses have a positive view of emerging technology, while another 18 per cent take a middle-ground position, expressing equal parts excitement and trepidation. Both percentages are slightly lower than the global results (54 per cent mostly excitement, 21 per cent equal parts excitement and trepidation).

At the other end of the spectrum one in three Australian companies report mostly feelings of trepidation about emerging tech. Risk aversion, budget constraints and a lack of a clear business case are among the primary factors that are causing some organisations to take a go-slow approach.

Although still far from mainstream adoption, the emerging technologies with the highest rates of implementation globally are the Internet of Things and big data.

Cybersecurity disconnects

Nearly 7 in 10 firms describe their cybersecurity as completely or mostly satisfactory. This indicates much room for improvement, especially with the remainder describing their firms’ approach as simply adequate or inadequate. For many companies in Australia the perception that current cybersecurity efforts are “good enough” is the top challenge to devoting more attention and resources to the issue. A lack of understanding of new cybersecurity threats is another challenge for companies. Given the projected high growth rates for emerging technologies expected over the next several years, the need for businesses to re-evaluate their approaches to cybersecurity is even more apparent.

Workforce challenges

Skills gaps remain an ongoing challenge at most organisations, with 46 per cent of Australian firms reporting that situation has grown more challenging over the past two years. That’s the same percentage as the corresponding global result.

The research confirms the distinction between the generic use of the phrase “skills gap” and the more nuanced discussion of “workforce gaps” that encompass location, pay, soft skills, perceptions, innovation and more.

Interestingly, 18 per cent of Australian employers acknowledge that unrealistic expectations with skills and experience contribute to exaggerated perceptions of the skills gap. Another 53 per cent acknowledge it is somewhat of a factor.

CompTIA’s “International Trends in Technology and Workforce” report is the result of an online survey of 1,554 business and technology professionals in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Ireland, Japan, the Middle East (Oman, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates), the Netherlands, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The complete report, including country specific data, is available at https://www.comptia.org/content/research/international-trends-workforce-cybersecurity-emerging-tech.

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About CompTIA

The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) is a leading voice and advocate for the $5.2 trillion global information technology ecosystem; and the estimated 75 million industry and tech professionals who design, implement, manage, and safeguard the technology that powers the world’s economy. Through education, training, certifications, advocacy, philanthropy, and market research, CompTIA is the hub for advancing the tech industry and its workforce. Visit www.comptia.org to learn more.

References: 

(1) International Data Corporation (IDC), ICT Spending Forecast, https://www.idc.com/promo/global-ict-spending/forecast