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Demand for tech employees reflects our new digital reality

A Picture of Alex Robbio
April 08, 2020 | Topic: Digital transformation  
Demand for tech employees reflects our new digital reality

Even as overall unemployment has increased rapidly in recent weeks, many US companies are still competing amongst themselves to find technical talent, as every company now needs to move to digital. Trained individuals in roles as diverse as computer and information research scientists, systems managers, analysts, engineers and software architects are still in high demand. The statistics on technology workers have become well-known over the past few years. The Wall Street Journal quotes an analyst from the research firm, Gartner, as stating that “Nearly a third of the most critical roles, like tech talent, are left unfilled after five months, costing millions in lost productivity on the table for each company every year”.

According to research a couple of years ago from IDC, by 2022 more than 60% of global GDP will be digitized and every industry will drive growth “by digitally enhanced offerings, operations, and relationships and almost $7 trillion in IT-related spending in 2019–2022”. Indeed, this is likely to be an under-estimate given the rapid digitalization that the Coronavirus pandemic is now driving. This reflects what I see among our clients – that executives know that if they fail to invest in their technology environments, and fail to make this shift to digital, they will soon cease to exist.

The staffing company Robert Half estimates that the salary midpoint for a mobile application developer in the US is $146,500. Meanwhile, the mean national salary for a software engineer is $125,750. The 2019 Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report found tech salaries higher than they have ever been across the world.

tech employees

What companies should do

Businesses need to place ever greater emphasis on their recruitment and retention strategies. In addition, they will need to look to having more diverse workforces. The leaders in the digitally-infused world will be those that are open to accessing a wider talent pool, across different geographies, and work with technology partners who can help them find the people with the skills and capabilities their business needs, in order to achieve long-term digital success.

An interesting note to end on, is to consider how looking further to the future organizations will manage ever greater pressures to find talented technical individuals. While in the future, artificial intelligence will help developers code more efficiently, and will even help generate some code, this is likely to push demand even higher for those people with the technical acumen to understand these AI systems.

Another school of thought, is that we will see the emergence of a new faction of “developers” who don’t code in the traditional sense. IDC believes that by 2024, we’ll see a “new class of developers producing code without custom scripting”. The challenge is that here organizations want ever more complex applications, with greater functionality. Although this may help in some areas, I question whether individuals using these platforms will be in a position to create differentiated digital experiences, or will be able to help integrate your app with other enterprise systems.

Forward thinking organizations will need to realize that in this new digital environment, they can’t simple demand that governments and higher education institutions provide the professionals they need, so they will need to take an active role in attracting young people to careers in IT – for example, by engaging volunteer employees to go to high schools and even elementary schools to share their passion for technology and teach basic computer skills. In my experience, these efforts have had a measurable impact in improving enrollment rates in computer science programs in the places where we have been running these programs. Indeed, there were a couple of universities in Mendoza, Argentina (where Belatrix is headquartered) that were considering shutting down their computer science programs due to the low enrollment numbers of the past few years (unbelievable!). Fortunately, these efforts have helped the universities achieve full enrollment again.

Using technology to overcome the shortage of tech employees

Meanwhile, there are some good examples of how organizations can use technology to overcome this shortage of IT professionals. For example, the “Augmented Globant” initiative demonstrates how you can apply technology to aspects of how a business is run, from recruitment to retention to performance management to coding. When it comes to Augmented Coding there is a solution that is able to improve developer productivity by 20% to 50% as it is able to understand context and purpose of code by applying language processing techniques to code and comments. By using this augmented coding solution a new developer that joins a project is able to immediately begin producing usable code as he or she will not face the typical ramp up experienced when trying to understand a pre-existing code base as they can search it with natural language. Even experienced developers are able to work more effectively on large codebases.

These are the types of strategic efforts that organizations will need to execute in order to continue to succeed, even in an environment where there is tremendous demand for IT talent.

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