Just 36% of U.S. Companies Regard Digital Skills a Key Investment

Just over one-third of businesses that took part in a research Sage research report say that investment in digital skills is a priority for the organisation according to the findings of the report.

According to the report, US companies are some of the least likely to invest in the digital skills training of their staff, citing a “lack of applicability to business strategies,” and a lack of government support and tax incentives as the major cause of the low investment in digital skills training.

The survey states that a lack of productivity is set to cost the US economy $346 billion in 2016, and reveals that only 61% of US businesses have confirmed plans to invest in the skills training of their staff to increase efficiency and profitability of their operations; a mere 25% of respondents said they were interested in smart tech.

Tech Republic writes that while “businesses recognize the financial impact of administrative tasks, and are taking action to reduce the burden, enterprise in the US was among the least likely to invest in digital skills in 2019, attributing the reason for withholding investment as a ‘lack of applicability to business strategies,’ according to the ‘we power the nation’ research report from Sage.”

Kathy Lord, senior vice president at Sage People says that “overall, the findings were quite surprising… the lack of dedication to addressing (and remedying) it was unexpected. The fact that only 61% plan on investing in digital skills is a sign of a larger issue surrounding where budgets are allocated, and where the attention of the C-suite lies.”

“Unfortunately, there is a global digital skills crisis affecting all countries and all industries therein.”

Interestingly enough, according to the report, 41% of respondents said that “digital skills are not important to their business strategy,” while 25% said that investment in digital skills would increase opportunities for market entry.

“The global productivity deficit continues to grow, yet investment in digital skills can help remedy the issue,” Nancy Harris, managing director at Sage North America said. “Our research reveals that not only does it help from a revenue perspective, it can also improve employee morale; 48% of medium-sized businesses and 53% of large-sized businesses boasted a more productive working environment as a result.”

The study also showed that 71% of respondents spend more than 35 hours per week on compliance, with a further 50% of those unaware of the digital tax resources currently on the market to aid them in compliance measures.

“Unfortunately,” Kathy Lord says, “there is a global digital skills crisis affecting all countries and all industries therein.”

“Our tracker points to a huge productivity deficit which can be fixed with digital skills investment. Many businesses are making digital skills a priority, but not all US businesses are, and that’s something that needs to change. The US is slow to adopt in certain ways and other countries are feeling the same weight on their shoulders. It’s a tough hill to climb, as budget, resources and universal adoption often stand in the way of success,” she said.

“It’s very important that the US be known as a country of progressive technological advancement, as other countries often look to us for inspiration, and often our models are replicated in other countries. That being said, there is always room for inspiration from multiple sources and ways of thinking,” Lord concluded.

Just under a quarter of businesses that took part in the study said they believe the government should provide or subsidise the cost of digital skills training, while 31% say there should be tax incentives that reward organisations that take it upon themselves to invest in staff training.

“As businesses around the world continue to face an increasingly competitive marketplace, the need for digital tools and skills has never been greater,” Harris added. “As we speak to our customers, they resoundingly agree that a combination of investment and governmental programs can help solve this productivity puzzle,” she said.

Sage recommends that in order to stay with the pack, organisations should take a ‘multi-faceted’ approach to both the investment in their people, and the digital skills of their staff, as well as investment into compliance software, machine learning and artificial intelligence, which gives that organisation more time to invest in other projects and can open up new segments of the market to capitalise on.

“Generally, tech development in the US will almost always be at the forefront. We are an innovative country always striving to be the best; however, this report goes to show that, even with our tech-first reputation, the thread of innovation and digital skills adoption isn’t necessarily woven into every fabric of every company or industry.”

“In fact, one of the findings in our research globally revealed that less than half of the companies have migrated to using cloud technology,” Lord continued to explain.

“Many times, a focus on tech investment and providing training to employees to advance their digital skills may be isolated to Silicon Valley, and doesn’t necessarily expand past its borders into other geographic areas and industries,” she concluded.

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