CIOs in APAC Face the Greatest Tech Skills Shortage Post the Global Financial Crisis: Survey Finds

May 27, 20168:10 am2047 views

CIOs in APAC face the greatest tech skills shortage since the 2008 GFC as concerns about cyber-attacks continue to grow, according to Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey. Conversely, the APAC region is ahead of the curve in handling digital disruption and CIOs feel better equipped to handle the pace of change than global counterparts.

The 2016 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey revealed that in the APAC region, over two-thirds (69 per cent in APAC / 65 per cent globally) of CIOs say they believe a lack of talent will prevent their organisation from keeping up with the pace of change.

Now in its 18th year, the Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey offers fascinating insight into the issues faced by CIOs across the globe. In the APAC region, data analytics was the most in-demand skill for the second year, selected by 44 per cent of respondents, 5 per cent higher than the global average. The biggest jump in skill demand year-on-year globally is digital, up 21 per cent followed by security, up 17 per cent.

The majority of CIOs in APAC feel better equipped than their global counterparts to keep up with the pace of change, 44 per cent across APAC in comparison to 41 per cent globally. However, 72 per cent of technology leaders in Japan report they are struggling to keep up with the pace of digital disruption and change.

The adoption of Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) within organisations across APAC is in line with the global rate of 20 per cent, however Singapore stands out as not only the most digitally advanced market in APAC (41 per cent have a CDO), but also one of the most advanced markets globally.

As tracked over the years in Harvey Nash’s annual CIO Surveys, organisations are seeking to get a better handle on digital disruption, and this year the findings demonstrate that the APAC region is clearly ahead of the curve.

The number of IT leaders reporting an enterprise-wide digital business vision and strategy increased to 40 per cent (compared with 35 per cent globally), an 8 per cent jump from last year and an additional one in four (24 per cent) have digital strategies for individual business units.

As digital increasingly becomes critical to businesses, only 9 per cent of respondents across APAC (compared to 13 per cent globally) have no digital strategy and no plans for one. CIOs in APAC are faced with more cyber-attacks than their global counterparts, with 32 per cent of APAC CIOs having to respond to a major IT security or cyber-attack on behalf of their organisation in the last two years, versus 28 per cent globally.

Less than a fifth of CIOs in the region (18 per cent in APAC / 22 per cent globally) feel confident their organisation is very well prepared to identify and respond to cyber-attacks, compared to more than a quarter in 2015. CIOs in Japan are the least prepared, with only 11 per cent being confident that their organisation is prepared to identify and respond to cyber-attacks.

See: Is Asia running out of IT talent?

“Whilst the Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey reveals the CIO is enjoying unprecedented influence, it also demonstrates the role is being stretched in many directions,” said Nick Marsh, Managing Director of Harvey Nash Executive Search APAC.

“From grappling with increasing cyber security threats, to working with the board on innovation and digital transformation, CIOs in 2016 are dealing with a more varied range of challenges than ever before, many of which are far removed from the realms of traditional IT. Adaptability, influencing skills and an ability to keep a clear head in uncertain times are becoming increasingly important business skills for today’s CIO.”

“The role of the CIO in today’s business is truly focused on innovation,” said Bob Hayward, Head, Asia Pacific CIO Advisory Centre of Excellence, KPMG in Singapore. “CIOs are no longer focused solely on delivering the right technology to enable the enterprise; rather they are now the key agent of change for moving enterprise strategy forward. This survey confirms that more than ever before, IT leaders must be strategic partners with the CEO.”

The role of the CIO has never been more relevant or influential. More CIOs globally report directly to the CEO (34 per cent) than at any time in the past decade, rising 10 per cent over the last year.

The survey also highlights how CIO priorities continue to shift, revealing the focus is now on IT projects that make money (almost two thirds, 69 per cent), compared to save money (31 per cent), enabling CIOs to be more creative and increase their influence.

72 per cent of CIOs across APAC feel they are becoming more strategic in their organisations, 47 per cent expect to increase their IT headcount over the next year and 52 per cent plan to increase the budget – all positive news for CIOs across the region.

Additional APAC findings from the 2016 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey include:

The rise of digital continues – Singapore shines whilst Japan struggles

  • Japan lags behind global counterparts in digital focus with only 17 per cent of organisations having a CDO or digital lead (compared to the global average of 19 per cent / 20 per cent in APAC). Whereas 41 per cent of organisations in Singapore have a digital lead.
  • The majority of IT leaders in Japan (72 per cent) report to being held back on innovation due to lack of resources or funding, compared to 59 per cent globally.

Skills Shortages – Increased Competition for Talent

  • CIOs in APAC expect to increase headcount over the coming year (47 per cent in comparison to 44 per cent globally). 52 per cent of Greater China’s CIOs plan to increase headcount, highlighting that in the APAC war for talent, China may have the upper hand.
  • 2016’s most in demand skills across APAC include: 1) big data, 2) business analysis, 3) technical architecture/ IT strategy / project management / mobile solutions (all joint third)
  • Only one in ten APAC CIOs (13 per cent) sourced half or more of their staff from flexible or contingent contracts, with the majority (38 per cent) utilising a flexible workforce of less than 10 per cent.

Diversity – Advances for Women in Tech

  • APAC has made great strides in increasing the diversity of its teams. Women now hold 11 per cent of IT leadership roles across the region, in line with global results (this figure stood at 7 per cent in APAC last year).
  • In Hong Kong, women now hold 22 per cent of the city’s IT leadership roles, placing Hong Kong second in the world in terms of female IT leadership, just behind Norway.

Life for a CIO in APAC

  • CIOs across APAC expect budget increases over the next 12 months – Singapore 48 per cent, Japan 39 per cent, Greater China 46 per cent and Hong Kong 46 per cent.
  • More than a third of CIOs in APAC (41 per cent / 34 per cent globally) benefitted from an increase in salary last year. This is slightly up from 31 per cent of CIOs who enjoyed an increase in 2015. For many this slight improvement is welcome news after years of salary freezes or even salary cuts.
  • 40 per cent of CIOs in the APAC region earn more than US$200,000 a year.

Agile technologies and outsourcing:

  • Almost four in ten (35 per cent APAC / 37 global average) are buying more solutions to improve responsiveness and three in ten (35 per cent APAC / 32 per cent global average) are developing strategic partnerships to improve innovation outcomes.
  • More than half of IT leaders (59 per cent APAC / 51 per cent globally) see outsourcing primarily as a tool to free up resources to focus on the core business – this is up from 46 per cent since 2015. The impact of the technology skills shortage is also evident as 46 per cent now outsource to gain access to skills not available in-house, last year it was 34 per cent.

Also read: CIOs “Tech-Spectations” for 2016: Quick Hiring Tips for Decision Makers

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