The War for Software Talent: Industrial Companies Join the Fight‍

Discover how the tech talent war has expanded beyond traditional tech giants as industrial companies from various sectors join the fight for software talent. Learn about the challenges, trends, and strategies in attracting and retaining top talent in a competitive market.

Tech Revolution
Calle Unnerus

The tech industry is facing a new challenge: attracting and retaining top talent in a competitive market. Software talent has become highly valuable across industries, leading to an intensification of the tech talent war. Earlier, by offering lucrative salaries, perks and opportunities to work on cutting-edge projects, tech giants like Google, Meta, and Amazon used to be the dream companies of every other tech enthusiast. Hence there was the domination of the tech industry. 

Now, as industries rely more on technology to innovate and compete, the demand for skilled tech professionals has surged. Industrial companies across sectors like automotive, energy, aerospace, and heavy machinery are now heavily investing in digital transformation, innovation, and technologies like AI and ML. They seek tech talent to create smart products, optimise processes, enhance customer experiences, and drive growth. These companies offer benefits such as stability, comfortable work culture, impact, diversity, and social responsibility. 

As a result, the tech talent war has expanded beyond the internal affairs of the traditional tech sector to broader battles in various sectors. Business leaders are now not only competing with tech natives but also with startups that offer good opportunities for tech workers. Companies are now competing not only with traditional rivals but also with tech giants and new-age start-ups that offer attractive opportunities for tech workers.

How the Tech Talent War Has Shifted and What It Means for Business

The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the demand for tech talent, made tech giants hit the reverse gear and changed the landscape of the competition. As per Forbes, Silicon Valley’s loss is the Industrial sector’s gain. The current shift has a lot to do with data and digitalization. The technologisation has changed the whole game. Industrial companies, traditionally associated with manufacturing and physical infrastructure, are undergoing a significant transformation in the digital era. 

Rapid advancements in technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and data analytics have prompted these companies to incorporate software into their core operations. Software now powers various aspects of their businesses, including automation, predictive maintenance, supply chain management, and customer engagement.

Everything a consumer can imagine now can be ‘technologified’, from making invoices to paying bills. It won’t be wrong to say that the solution to almost all problems is technology now (with AI, even automation can be the answer). It is no longer an option but a need for every industrial company to have a strong tech force.

For example, companies like Tesla and General Electric are leading the charge in integrating software and hardware expertise to drive electric vehicle innovation and industrial automation. They recognize that having a strong tech force is crucial to their success in the digital age.

Global and Cross-Industry

According to a report by Bain & Company, more than 40% of software engineers and developers were hired by non-tech companies in 2019, up from about a third in 2010.

As industrial companies embrace digital transformation, they realise that their success hinges on having a talented software workforce. They need professionals who can develop robust software solutions, integrate systems, and leverage data-driven insights to optimise their operations. Recognizing the shortage of software talent, these companies are actively competing with technology giants and startups to attract skilled software professionals. 

For instance, manufacturing companies are utilising IoT sensors and data analytics to optimise supply chains and predict maintenance requirements. Energy companies are adopting advanced algorithms to optimise renewable energy generation and distribution. 

The tech talent war is no longer confined to big tech companies. It has spread to other industries that are increasingly relying on technology to survive and thrive in the post-pandemic world. The tech talent war is truly global and cross-industry.

But The Competition Still Exists 

While non-tech companies are increasing their share of tech talent hires, they are still facing stiff competition from the largest technology companies and tech start-ups with huge funding. These players have been hiring tech talent at unprecedented rates and offering attractive compensation packages, perks, and opportunities for growth and impact.

According to Bain & Company, Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft have increased their share of software engineers and developer hires. And over the past decade, tech start-ups have been increasing the size of their software engineering and developer staff by nearly 60% each year, the fastest hiring pace among tech and non-tech companies.

Challenges the industrial sector has been facing:

1. Lacking the reputation and brand recognition that technology companies enjoy. 

2. Perception of software professionals that industrial companies may offer slower-paced and less technologically advanced work environments. 

3. Issues in adapting traditional recruitment and hiring processes to attract software talent. 

The tech talent war is driven by the most innovative and disruptive players in the market, who are constantly looking for new ways to create value for their customers and stakeholders.

The Hiring Trend

According to CompTIA’s 2021 Workforce and Learning Trends report, 66% of companies have plans to add more tech staff in 2021. And according to Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trends Index, over 40% of employees considered making a job change during the year. This means that businesses need to act smart to attract and retain the tech talent they need.

This war is not between jobseekers and HRs; it's between industries, companies, technology and business that technology can bring. It is a strategy for businesses that want to survive and succeed in the digital age. Technology is becoming mission-critical for every aspect of business operations, from product development to customer service to marketing. These technologies can help industrial sectors optimise processes, enhance products, and create new business models. Without the right tech talent, businesses risk falling behind their competitors, losing market share, and becoming irrelevant.

How Can You Stay Ahead of the Competition

Winning the tech talent war requires an approach tailored for candidates while being mindful of company goals. This goes beyond offering competitive salaries and benefits. Companies need to consider how they can widen their funnel of candidates, invest in what sets them apart, and create a culture that fosters engagement and loyalty among their tech staff. A high-paid employee can get paid more, but a loyal employee can never be bought.

Here are a few suggestions that can be helpful:

Talent Sourcing: Look beyond traditional hiring pools and explore new ways to find qualified candidates. For example, leverage online platforms like LinkedIn or GitHub to identify potential hires based on their skills, projects, or endorsements. These alliances provide access to talent pools, foster knowledge exchange, and facilitate joint innovation initiatives.

Highlight Unique Value Proposition: Communicate why you are an attractive employer for tech talent. You need to showcase vision, mission, values, impact, innovation, challenges, and opportunities. They also need to highlight their differentiators from other employers, such as their industry expertise, customer base, social responsibility, or work environment.

Provide flexibility and autonomy: Respect the preferences and needs of the staff when it comes to how they work. Offer them flexibility in terms of work location, schedule, tools, and methods. Additionally, empower them with freedom and ownership over their projects and decisions. Give them a challenging work environment to develop their skill set.

Foster learning and growth: McKinsey research report says that most effective organisations provide 75 hours to each employee for their learning and development and see higher promotion rates. Provide them with opportunities to learn new skills, acquire new knowledge, and expand their horizons. Encourage them to pursue their passions, interests, and goals, both within and outside of work.

Recognize and reward performance: It goes both ways. As a manager, senior or co-workers, employers need to appreciate and acknowledge the contributions and achievements of their staff. You need to provide them with regular feedback, recognition, and rewards that are meaningful and motivating. You also need to celebrate their successes and failures and learn from them.

Agile and Dynamic Work Culture: Industrial companies need to create an agile and dynamic work culture that appeals to software professionals. This includes embracing agile methodologies, encouraging experimentation, fostering cross-functional collaboration, and providing autonomy in decision-making.

Industrial companies are increasingly recognizing the importance of software talent in driving their digital transformation efforts. However, in the industrial sector, the challenge of attracting, hiring and retaining tech talent is daunting. You are not alone. Competing with well-established Unicorns and other companies can be rough, but not if you stay updated with the trends and equip yourself with new technology and practices. Good things take time. Hiring top talent is not a tug of war. 

The tech talent war has shifted and intensified in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Businesses across all industries and geographies are competing for the same scarce and valuable resource: suitable employees. To win the tech talent war, companies need to adopt a smart approach that addresses the needs, expectations, and aspirations of their tech staff. As the demand for software expertise continues to rise, tech, as well as non-tech companies, will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of software-driven industrial operations.

Help your talent pool unleash its full potential and experience optimum growth.

Remember, you are dealing with humans, not technology, here. You are hiring humans for technology, not otherwise. 

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