In the 2022 ASUG Pulse of the SAP Customer Research, we asked SAP customers about their top challenges. Maintaining knowledgeable staff/turnover came in as one of the top three challenges organizations said they face. So, we know it’s a pressing issue. It’s also not a new issue. The ability to find skilled talent has challenged organizations for the past several years, according to the historical research trends.

What’s more, our community faces a knowledge drip. Based on results from recent ASUG global research, 15% of ASUG members have been with their current organization a mere two years or less—perhaps a reflection of the COVID-19 induced “great resignation” or in this case, a great reshuffle.

On top of the notable share of skilled staff changes, 16% said they plan to retire within five years. That’s a cumulative drain that will continue to persist and a considerable leak of internal SAP knowledge.

Pace of Change Predicament

In addition to all this, the global research showed organizations are struggling to keep pace with the speed of change. Just 18% of the respondents said they can keep up with the speed of change in our current technical, societal, and/or economic environments.

Despite the challenge of maintaining knowledgeable staff and turnover being at the top of the list, it’s not a priority to solve at organizations. Also seen in the 2022 Pulse of the SAP Customer research, people-oriented areas—change management, supporting a remote workforce, or training/onboarding staff—are not the top organizational priorities this year. What tops the list? Respondents said their focus is on integrations, dashboards/analytics, automation, or standardizing business processes. These are the most important focus areas in 2022 and last year as well.

So, we know maintaining skilled staff is among the top challenge, but organizations have a lot on which to focus. Training staff, or upskilling, is coming up last on the list of priorities.

Skills Gap or Properly Skilled?

If you haven’t guessed already, I’ve been building up to this question: Do we have a skills gap? According to Google, a skills gap is a gap between the skills an employee has and the skills they need to perform a job well. But according to nearly 500 SAP customers in our global study, 85% agree they are properly skilled to do their job effectively and efficiently.

It’s not a skills gap we face. It’s a barrage of new technologies that seemingly require new expertise. More importantly, we see the need to define, create, and hire for new roles so organizations can innovate—and keep pace with the speed of change. New roles could include an adoption/agility task force, business transformation consultants, new technology integrators, and trend researchers, to keep a general pulse on new technologies. According to our recent global research, 38% of ASUG SAP customers say a lack of in-house skills and staff shortages are what holds organizations back when trying to keep pace with the speed of change.

Emerging Technologies, Emerging Workforce

Emerging technologies, cloud integration/migration, business process transformation (formally business process intelligence), cybersecurity, and sustainability management are some of the focuses that the next generation of the SAP-skilled workforce will need to facilitate. Yet, these emerging technologies will mainstream, and new ones will continue to emerge.

To keep up with the speed of change, innovative and growing organizations will need to create new roles—or outsource talent and/or technology initiatives—to implement new technologies. According to an SAP-sponsored 2022 Harvard Business Review, Talent Disruption: Strategic Workforce Planning in the Age of Labor Shortages, companies are relying on nonpayroll labor to get jobs done, making the external workforce increasingly pivotal to business success. We’ll tap into this and other trends more in the 2023 ASUG Pulse of the SAP Customer study. Watch this space for those results early next year.

The momentum of progress in business and technology—and our world— is more rapid than ever. The pace of change quickens. Our community is beyond a skills gap. It’s time to implement new roles.

Marissa Gilbert is ASUG Research Director.

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