Organisations in Australia and New Zealand have traditionally lagged behind more mature markets such as the United States and United Kingdom in their adoption of new technology.
Last year, when conducting research for our quarterly update on global tech and digital trends, I had several discussions with overseas counterparts about market conditions and areas that CIOs need to be aware of leading into the New Year.
There was one thing that stood out: Companies in Australia and New Zealand are closing the gap on their overseas colleagues when it comes to technology uptake.
In fact, with the ongoing advances in DevOps, cloud and Agile delivery models, it appears to have made it easier to develop a cycle of change that is faster to implement, regardless of borders or countries.
We are now facing similar market challenges to the US and Europe. From my chats with people overseas, here are my findings:
We mean business
Technology is becoming an all pervasive mindset, rather than a specialist area. Organisations are driven to become more effective in their adoption rates of new technologies in order to compete in global markets.
Companies are shifting the way they see themselves. We are seeing more and more enterprise companies viewing themselves as either software, digital, or data companies, when traditionally speaking, neither of these are at the core of their offering.
- Utility companies are moving their focus to customer ‘data management’ rather than seeing themselves as an energy generator or retailer
- Banks and financial institutions are focusing on the digital user experience rather than financial processing power
- Supply chain and construction firms are turning to analytics and data management beyond physical construction and transportation to using data to effectively manage real time events.
Top priorities in 2016 include cloud computing, virtualisation and security. On the horizon of most technology strategies are big data and application modernisation.
However, across the board, the biggest challenge is in sourcing talent in these areas.
Darwin Recruitment country director, Richard Jackson specialises within the European IT markets and leads a team of 60 consultants who are all working within specialist technical verticals across Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Nordic countries.
Mr Jackson said a key challenge in the UK is identifying key candidates within the specialist verticals they are recruiting within.
“Demand in 2015 has increased dramatically towards the later part of the year and we’re extremely excited about 2016,” he said.
“We are experiencing a talent shortage in all areas of application development, telecommunications and cloud Infrastructure services. Key areas of high demand would be within Java, front end development, mobile and DevOps.”
Furthermore, retaining talent is proving a further challenge for companies.
Future world of work
It is well documented that many jobs will become redundant in the near future and technology and digital disruption is a key catalyst driving improvements to processes and output at lightning speed.
Unlike many other areas, the IT and digital sectors look to make the greatest gains in terms of retaining its workforce. However, all roles within the technology industry are not so secure.
Up to 80 per cent of today’s CIOs expect to get ‘some’ amount of IT delivered using a cloud infrastructure model in the next year. This means that more traditional infrastructure skill sets like system engineers and network administrators are at the greatest risk of becoming extinct.
We are regularly advising these candidates to up-skill to areas such as security and DevOps. Being a multi-language, Polygot, open source or digital native developer improves your employment prospects rather than being the best .Net or Java programmer in the market these days.
Digital transformation projects
Transformation projects abound driven by the digital revolution. In many respects, Australian and New Zealand organisations are being driven by digital initiatives. The demand for talent in these markets is high and most organisations are fishing from the same pool locally.
Organisations that have unique employer value propositions and significant global sourcing strategies and capability (internally or with the assistance of partners) are winning the war on attracting this talent.
Serocor Group has been operating in the technology space in the UK for the past 20 years and CEO, Mike Gawthorne, said the biggest challenge they are facing is in working with new clients so they understand the level of commitment required to secure the best talent.
“From a skills perspective, our biggest challenge is finding and keeping talent in the areas of digital, cloud computing and big data,” Mr Gawthorne said.
“We are experiencing a talent shortage across all technical disciplines,” he said. “However, because we work in specific niche verticals, talent shortage is also the norm and therefore our stock in trade.”
The Australian government has traditionally shied away from debt, resulting in a low level of capital investment in technology infrastructure projects in Australia. This is resulting in a negative flow of quality project professionals offshore, as they chase large projects in overseas markets who are investing strongly in this space.
For SAP and enterprise systems specialists in Australia and New Zealand, demand is, by contrast, lower than in other markets due to the scarcity of projects.
While on the other hand, the US and UK markets are advancing strongly and we are experiencing a brain drain. A lot of public sector infrastructure projects in markets overseas are helping to drive these economies out of recession.
Mr Gawthorne said UK companies are focusing on large scale transformation programmes that include the rollout of cloud, cyber security, business intelligence and big data solutions.
For Darwin Recruitment, the opportunity has arrived where London has become a major technology hub, which Mr Jackson said allows the recruiter to draw on its experiences of assisting organisations in Berlin & Stockholm while bringing a unique selling point to the market.
“The identification of key technology candidates from our personal networks across Europe into the UK is driving us in 2016,” he said.
Roles in demand and on the decline
The ever changing landscape in technology and digital continues to throw new technologies and role types at us every year.
Job roles in high demand now and in the future include:
- Data scientists
- Robots engineers
- SaaS engineers
- Machine learning computer experts
- Agile and digital business analysts, scrum masters
- Cloud experts/architects (advisory)
- Virtualisation engineers
- Native mobile developers
- Full stack developers (.Net/Java/Ruby/PHP)
- Big data analysts
- Business intelligence consultants
- DevOps and automation engineers
- React JS/Angular JS developers
- User experience (UX) designers
- Security consultants
And in the UK?
“The UK has gone through a digital revolution more recently with the development of silicon roundabout and massive growth in start-ups,” Darwin's Jackson said. “This means that the high demand areas coming out of this are within front end and web development languages, testing, security and DevOps.”
Our UK counterparts are talking about the same trends that we are currently experiencing in Australia and New Zealand. Legacy technology roles are in decline and demand is rising for emerging technology skills.
Australia and New Zealand’s technology adoption rates and the cycle of change suggest we are now moving towards more of a global technology and digital market.
Damien Ross is CEO at Davidson Technology.