A new global study by IBM shows that 80 percent of leading enterprises are forming new partnerships with "citizen developers," industry professionals who operate outside the scope of enterprise IT. These developers help to close the skills gap for application development to drive greater collaboration and innovation across cloud, analytics, mobile and social technologies, the company says.

The report was conducted by the IBM Center for Applied Insights and is based on responses from more than 1,400 IT and business decision-makers in 15 industries across five continents. The survey finds that 40 percent of all organizations still report moderate-to-major skills gaps across cloud, analytics, mobile and social technologies, despite these technologies being recognized as the drivers for key innovations.

The study looked at common traits of “pacesetters,” leading organizations that are achieving tangible business results from cloud, analytics, mobile and social technologies. Pacesetters are finding creative new ways to narrow the skills gaps, including gaps in general IT skills, application development or data analytics, IBM says.

One way pacesetters are filling these gaps is through partnerships with citizen developers, an emerging group of industry professionals who create new business applications and help with IT decisions, outside of their regular work responsibilities.

In addition to turning to citizen developers, the pacesetter organizations are twice as likely to turn to academia for product development and 70 percent are more likely to engage with start-ups for execution.