Max Nirenberg Forbes Councils Member
Forbes Business Development Council COUNCIL POST
Max Nirenberg, Chief Revenue Officer and Managing Director for North America, Commit USA
Let’s play a game. What do Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln and Elon Musk have in common?
Each reshaped the world by not only embracing change but by promoting and making change the new expected norm.
Yet, despite leader after leader and company after company bringing incredible change to our lives, many executives, organizations and industries are resistant to it. They cling to old beliefs, practices and business models that were once successful but no longer sustainable in today’s fast-moving, digital-first world.
Just like advancements in technology that have transformed business – such as AI, IoT and big data – leaders are now faced with fundamental changes reshaping staffing, project management and new working conditions, all of which are drastically overhauling tech industries.
In this new era of tech development, organizations need to rethink not only how they work but who they work with and how they build a team. To guarantee success, business development leaders must reframe the talent search.
Just as cloud infrastructure has rapidly changed the way storage is managed and services are deployed, organizations of all stripes can also use a new concept for implementing tech talent, akin to the rapid scalability and flexibility seen in cloud technology — a cloud of people. This begins by breaking down old approaches to hiring, streamlining HR processes to quickly build quality teams at scale and mitigate risk and adopting new tools and workflows to support collaboration from anywhere.
New Expectations In Today’s High-Tech Gig Economy
Tech recruiting has never been more difficult. Just ask any software developer, R&D manager or HR director tasked with managing tech talent. Demand for skilled employees has skyrocketed, yet the supply of talent is falling short. In the U.S., there were more than 1.2 million unique computer science job vacancies in September 2021 alone, a 15% increase from six months earlier. Software and IT industry job openings have grown 119%, according to LinkedIn, since the pandemic started. The gap between supply and demand is only growing, with one projection showing talent shortages may result in more than $8 trillion in unrealized annual revenue by 2030.
Costs for high-tech talent are also rising, with many specialists demanding significantly higher pay than ever before. Salaries for data scientists and cybersecurity experts, according to one calculation, increased 13% — 16% year-over-year — depending on the area — and continue to climb.
Meanwhile, these same skilled workers expect more flexible conditions and new perks. The ability to work remotely, expedited by Covid-19, has become the norm, leading many to flee traditional tech hubs like Silicon Valley for more affordable living. The fundamental geography of tech talent is being overhauled, with technologist salaries rising around five times faster in states like NC and WI, as opposed to CA.
With so much pent-up demand and opportunity to climb, many experts are becoming “mercenaries-for-hire,” working for the highest bidder today and leaving for the next company tomorrow.
All of this places tremendous pressure on businesses, and particularly startups that have limited funding and time to get products to market. These same developments present a new way forward for those who are thinking ahead.
Breaking Down Old Barriers
Many organizations are unwilling to adapt to new circumstances — at first. Why fix what isn’t broken, right? Wrong!
For businesses to thrive today, leaders must dismantle outdated beliefs and practices in favor of more flexible and agile approaches that benefit employers and employees alike.
Covid-19 has entirely changed perceptions and practices. Most companies now recognize virtual collaboration isn’t just possible; it can be more effective than traditional workflows.
The past year taught many how to work from home and expedited the adoption of critical technologies to transition to remote work seamlessly. In fact, I spend more time on Zoom than meeting face to face, and I bet you do, too. Having bodies in an office is no longer a requirement of success. Many organizations have been managing teams remotely for a long time and are better equipped to accommodate this new way of working.
Furthermore, in today’s tech R&D landscape, retaining a full-time staff of skilled team members is no longer required and can even be harmful. Relying on a single core team can lead to disaster if even one employee jumps ship mid-project. The fact is, not all employees are needed at the same intensity 100% of the time during development, and employee retention brings fixed costs for salaries, equipment and real estate.
The bottom line: adaptability, flexibility and scalability in staffing are key.
Establishing The Cloud-Of-People
Change is inevitable, and employers should shift focus to embrace new strategies like sourcing talent from a global pool and more flexibly managing teams in a growing gig economy — or they won’t survive. This is where “cloud-of-people” is apt to describe emerging processes and practices that will revolutionize managing tech talent in the new gig economy. Early adopters of this strategy will immediately see benefits, and the rest will join later as they realize the necessity for change.
A cloud of people methodology can greatly reduce the time, costs and guesswork out of traditional recruiting. Once a single, consistent team is no longer a must, and remote collaboration is encouraged, organizations can employ new, less-rigid staffing models, such as hiring on an on-demand basis only when specific skill sets are needed or even hiring employees for a trial period to allow both employer and employee to “try before you buy.”
Unlocking Innovation With Flexibility
To succeed in the future, organizations must optimize their most important resource: people. And implementing a strategy like a cloud of people can enable the formation of teams in quick periods, cut back on unnecessary costs and increase ROI from individual employees and their contributions.
The capacity to pool global tech talent also removes geographical restrictions, enabling new access to more affordable, high-quality resources that were previously unreachable. Suddenly, scrambling to find your next DevOps or big data expert will become a thing of the past