Europe is struggling to keep up with the rest of the world when it comes to cloud computing, according to research from O’Reilly Media, with a shortage of data scientists holding back development in this area.

This is according to the company’s Evolving Data Infrastructure report, which has found that companies in the region are slower to adopt necessary cloud technologies needed for the progression of analytics and artificial intelligence.

Although 56% are “actively working on data science platforms”, 63% of organisations do not use serverless computing platforms such as AWS, Lambda and Nuclio.

The data storage and fast, flexible computing power provided by cloud technology is essential for modern business, and with the market expected to reach  $411bn worldwide by 2020, this is not predicted to slow down any time soon. However, only 24% of European organisations can refer to themselves as “sophisticated cloud users” according to the report.

Cloud computing use in Europe lags

Less than a quarter have been using cloud in production for over four years. This is compared to a global average of 26% and a North American average of 30%. 32% of European companies say they are ‘just exploring’ cloud options and are yet to commit to them fully.

However, the report was optimistic that this may change in the future, highlighting that the region is investing in “solutions that will help improve the accessibility and usability of data”, with 59% of organisations “building or evaluating solutions in data integration and extract, transform, load processes”. Another 56% are working on data science platforms.

For this progress to continue, it is essential for organisations to continue to invest in data infrastructure and analytics, but this area is being held back by a significant shortage of data scientists. According to the report, 47% of companies surveyed said there was a shortage of data science professionals and 37% highlighted shortages in data engineering.

Ben Lorica, Chief Data Scientist and Program Chair for Strata Data Conference at O’Reilly Media believes that investment in cloud computing is vital if the region is to be a world leader in future technologies:

“Innovation needs a strong foundation. Years of delayed investment and a reliance on legacy infrastructures may be holding European organisations back in the global race to the cloud. Yet, whilst they have some way to go before they achieve parity with their counterparts, it’s positive to see so many investing in data.

“A strong core of organised, clean and actionable data is crucial for any AI or analytics project. Provided companies become more competitive in attracting the best talent, 2019 may be the year that the continent turns a corner.”