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Wave after wave of technology disruptions — cloud, mobile, social, big data, the Internet of Things — require IT departments to evolve rapidly and sometimes chaotically. As a result, IT leaders are guiding their organizations beyond the traditional role of supporting technology infrastructure. Today, they’re driving innovation in strategic business areas — such as new products and revenue streams, faster and more efficient development, and customer-first technology.

To avoid disruption, businesses need their IT teams to work faster and smarter than ever before. However, to stay ahead of digital transformation and innovate as quickly as possible, new skillsets are required. Demand for IT talent with extensive digital experience and rigorous training is soaring, but there’s a widening gap between demand and the available workforce. In the “2016 State of IT” report — a survey of over 2,200 IT leaders and CIOs — Salesforce Research found that one-third of IT leaders struggle with keeping skills current in the face of emerging technology and trends.

What skills are most in demand? More than half of IT leaders report experiencing a skills gap in data engineering (56%), IT security (52%), and application development (51%). [CLICK TO TWEET]

To increase the availability of these key skills, IT leaders are ramping up training and development initiatives. Eighty percent of IT leaders say that company leadership cares about training and development for technical staff. And top companies are demonstrating this commitment by continued investment in training initiatives — 96% of top performing IT organizations and 90% of moderate performers are raising the stakes by increasing training budgets. Meanwhile, underperformers are lagging behind — only 55% are investing in training and development, and 19% say they aren’t addressing the skills gap at all.

Successful IT leaders know that more and better training is only part of a comprehensive solution for the looming skills gap. They’ve also embraced new technologies such as the cloud and rapid app development platforms that free up their teams to focus on business transformation and innovation. For example, 80% of those developing in the cloud say they are working primarily on projects that will transform their business. [CLICK TO TWEET]  

As app development becomes more rigorous and integrations become more complex, companies are using the cloud to support fast-paced development. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of companies who operate in the cloud can develop an app in three months or less. [CLICK TO TWEET]  

Top IT leaders are always looking for innovative ways to access data engineering, IT security, app development, and other new technical skills. To bridge the skills gap, they enhance training and development programs and use technologies like the cloud and app development platforms. For example, tools like Salesforce App Cloud streamline the app-building process, allowing IT teams to quickly build apps for any device and in any language — and manage them all in a single enterprise cloud environment.

To learn more about the impact of the digital transformation on IT teams and the strategies that top performers are using to stay ahead of the curve, download the “2016 State of IT” report.