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Skilling for the high-stakes, must-win landscape of 4IR

While the IT skills gap is unlikely to disappear, organisations can certainly find ways to overcome it - Marilyn Moodley.

With few exceptions, almost every company will be a tech business in The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). The adoption of technology - and the change required to support modern working - is one of the biggest challenges organisations currently face. Marilyn Moodley, Country Leader for South Africa and WECA (West, East, Central Africa) at SoftwareONE, says that while the IT skills gap is unlikely to disappear, organisations can certainly find ways to overcome it.

“Everything we do – from where we work, to how we shop, eat, travel, buy – will all transform. Organisations that equip their workforce with the necessary skills will be able to adapt and innovate. Of course, skills in technologies leading 4IR such as IoT, machine learning, AI, cloud and edge computing, to name but a few are vitally important, but the need is broader and includes ‘softer’ human skills like critical thinking, communication, adaptability, self-learning, as well as general digital proficiency,” explains Moodley.

She says with disruption as an inevitable feature of tomorrow’s operating environment, organisations that equip their workers with the right skills will be able to adapt to rapid change. Those that do not, will fall behind. “It’s neither an HR nor IT problem, but something that requires executive leadership with forward-thinking vision. It would be a mistake to simply roll out a new platform and expect real behavioural change – it’s imperative that organisations put proper adoption and change management processes in place to bring staff along on the digital transformation journey.”

Fully realising the potential of 4IR hinges on knowing where to begin skilling, reskilling and upskilling. Moodley says it also requires a rethink of how training is perceived. “When done well, training enables and supports productivity, and saves on recruiting expenses. SoftwareONE has a dedicated online learning portal covering a wide range of topics. Microsoft also offers worthwhile learning pathways for people who want to learn new skills and we advocate all our employees do the Microsoft Accessibility Fundamentals course, so that anyone with a disability, visible or otherwise, can work productively using the built-in tools in Microsoft 365.”

Moodley notes that organisations may not always have the in-house skills required to successfully implement digital transformation projects at the pace and scale needed. “Managing and overcoming the IT skills gap can be overwhelming, time consuming and stressful. Managed cloud services, like those offered by SoftwareONE, can help support organisations through their cloud journey via a clear cloud roadmap and a tailored cloud adoption framework.”

“Ultimately, value comes from changes that get adopted and used. With a proper approach, digital transformation and 4IR initiatives can deliver results and outcomes that form the first line of defence against disruption,” says Moodley.