In order to survive the grueling tech industry, companies must be forward-thinking, and always out to discover market shifts before the competition. Those who fall behind will quickly die off. Those who maintain an edge will live to fight on. Our team scoured troves of data and research to discover past industry shifts in an effort to predict what's to come. The following is a list of five tech trends companies should expect to see in 2019.
Unsurprisingly, we begin by covering the industry's broadening talent gap. As technology continues to expand its tentacles to reach the most remote regions of our planet, the demand for skilled engineers who will design, build, and maintain the next generation of software is expected to grow exponentially. We'll show why it's happening and what smart companies are doing to address it.
Next, we'll touch on the topic of diversity, explaining why we believe diversity in thought is every bit as important as racial or gender-based diversity. We'll also cover the steady rise in onshore outsourcing by U.S. firms and the many reasons why. Lastly, we'll explain why we foresee changes coming to the two core groups that most influence the success of every company - customers and employees.
THE TECH TALENT GAP IS WIDENING
Software engineers are notoriously difficult to find and hire. This has been true for at least the past decade, and analysts predict the trend will continue as we move forward.
According to some estimates, within the next few years, there will be roughly one million software engineering jobs available in the U.S. alone. Unfortunately, a great majority of these positions will go unfilled due to the ever-widening talent gap plaguing the industry. Interestingly, there's not a shortage of people calling themselves engineers. No, the actual issue is a lack of top-tier talent that's ready to "hit-the-ground-running."
Though America is witnessing a steady fall in the number of computer science grads, the issue is much larger than a degree. Formal or informal education is a great start, however, knowing a programming language doesn't make someone an engineer. An engineer is a problem solver. They are people who can competently observe issues, then cleverly address them.
Graduating more computer science students would do little to decrease the gap. Where software engineers earn their stripes is on the job. Therefore, the onus falls on the industry at large. Going forward, it is paramount that companies set out to further develop young talent by offering mentorships, apprenticeships and training programs either internally or externally.
DIVERSITY IS NO LONGER AN OPTION
The tech industry has always struggled with diversity. While the term is often thrown around as a political buzzword, in truth, diversity is about much more than race or gender. Experts say that each person's unique upbringing, age, education, and personal perspective plays a role in building a truly diverse team.
Above all else, diversity in thought and point of view are central in assembling a heterogeneous workforce. Teams that are too similar in background or approach tend to overlook potential pitfalls or ideal solutions due to inadvertent groupthink. True diversity attracts a diverse and balanced customer base. For example, certain wearable manufacturers - including Apple - were subject to harsh criticism when it was discovered their devices didn't perform as expected if the wearer had darker skin or tattoos. Inexplicable hiccups like these can sink a company. But more importantly, they can be avoided when diversity is no longer an option.
In the end, diversity fosters a better company culture. When we are exposed to outside perspectives, we better empathize with others and find more similarities than differences. The opposite is true when diversity is not seen as a requirement - the company culture becomes corroded.
Outsourcing work to offshore contractors is just one of the ways U.S. businesses are dealing with the aforementioned talent gap. And while offshoring labor is fine for some tech companies, it's certainly not a cure-all approach. Nevertheless, many analysts predict that outsourcing will continue to grow over the next decade. However, as it relates to the U.S., there's a swing toward hiring onshore talent, or "reshoring."
The underlying reasons for the shift include regulatory hurdles, time zone differences, maintenance issues, as well as cultural contrasts like language, business and social norms. Though offshore software development firms are known to be cheaper, the discount is often reflected in the quality of the code. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for companies who hire offshore to find that their projects require costly revisions due to substandard architecture. Moreover, even when i's are dotted and t's are crossed, on-going maintenance is unmanageable without a core team that fully understands the codebase.
Furthermore, outsourcing to onshore workers helps companies better maintain their IP, as both parties are governed by the same legal framework. India, for example, is infamous for its 'laissez-faire attitude toward IP licensing and general rights protection.' Hiring onshore software development talent can dramatically minimize worries that come from sharing unique ideas and creations with contractors.
CUSTOMERS REQUIRE QUALITY
In 2018, Forbes said it best - "customer experience is the new brand."
As our society continues to push forward, customer experience will make or break future companies. Today's customers are used to fast, hassle-free experiences. Tech giants like Amazon, Twitter, and Google set the benchmark by which your app or website will be judged. Such companies are known for providing extraordinarily great service to its customers.
For example, Amazon Prime's two-day shipping has completely revolutionized e-commerce as we know it. Only a few years ago, online shoppers were wholly content to wait a week or longer for a package to arrive. Now, anything in excess of 7 days is a no-go for many shoppers. Amazon has conditioned us to expect fast shipping, now all other companies must adapt or die.
On the other hand, when it comes to Google, think back to the last time there was a major outage. Odds are, you can't. If you're like most people, Google has been there every single time you needed it. This is what customers will expect going forward. And whether fairly or unfairly, your service will be held to the same standard.
Customers have become spoiled by quality.
EMPLOYEES WANT WORK WITH A PURPOSE
Millennials want work with a purpose. Gone are the days where a handsome salary and benefits alone could attract top-tier talent. The modern developer wants to spend their time building something meaningful rather than simply collect a check.
Increasingly, "mission-based" companies are siphoning talent away from purely profit-based organizations. In recent years, for example, graduates are choosing opportunities in the tech field rather than finance as the former is generally viewed as more socially conscious. What's more, 70 percent of professionals 'said they would not work at an industry-leading company if it meant they had to tolerate a bad workplace culture,' according to Biz Journals. At the same time, a third of millennials would leave their current job if an employer demonstrated unethical or immoral behavior.
To adjust, forward-thinking companies will need to sympathize with the feelings of their workers and develop a social purpose that's larger than their core product or service.
AUTHOR - NATE ASWEGE
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