Coding, a field currently dominated by men, was invented by a woman. Ada Lovelace, the daughter of a romantic poet is credited with writing the first ever paper on the subject of computer programming, published in 1843. (1)
The ‘rockstar’ coders of today, often viewed as analytical geniuses, are very far away from the profile of the 6 women, who were initially put in charge of learning early programming in the United States. The women, who joined the workforce during labour shortages of WW2, were in charge of the 8-foot by 8-foot Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) - used to replace mechanical calculations previously done by people.
Back then, computer programming was seen more as a ‘clerical’ job, the lesser counterpart of the hardware engineering needed for early computers. (1)
The technology of the first computers invented in the 1940s are worlds away from the landscape we live in today, just 80 years later. Today, technology is a part of who we are. This means every business, regardless of their industry, is faced with the challenge of creating a digital offering.
The little known origins of coding and programming can teach CXOs across all businesses an important lesson about diversifying their tech talent. Thinking outside the box with hiring processes, and steering away from the traditional ‘buy economy’ of tech talent will help businesses to overcome the biggest problem they face in the coming years: the ever ongoing shortage of IT talent.
(Patsy Simmers, holding ENIAC board; Gail Taylor, holding EDVAC board; Milly Beck, holding ORDVAC board; and Norma Stec, holding BRLESC-I board.) (2)
Digitise or Die
The headline capturing concept of ‘digitise or die’ may seem like a cliche to CXOs in enterprise businesses. However, while the challenge of navigating today’s digital landscape is far more nuanced, the sentiment does hold true. Businesses need to start putting technology and innovation at the forefront of their minds.
The challenge of moulding a Goliath enterprise business inline with the ever-changing agile world of fast growth disruptors and lean start-ups is tricky. However, it is a necessary step all enterprises must take if they want to stay relevant for customers.
Understanding the challenges of technology and innovation in 2023
A recent Gartner survey looking into the IT talent shortage found that 73% of CIOs are worried about developer attrition (3). Maintaining in-house dev talent today is also much more nuanced than just finding the right talent and offering them a high salary.
We believe that the challenges faced by CXOs, when it comes to finding the right dev resource, can be broken down into 3 key challenge areas.
Challenge 1: Difficulty delivering and planning with a fluctuating landscape of demand and talent.
In today’s landscape of agile and sprint-based delivery, it is incredibly difficult to plan ahead for future capacity demands. For enterprise CXOs, this often means trying to find an unreachable balance between day-to-day team utilisation and future demand-spikes.
Simply put, the traditional hiring process and in-house team retention is ineffective in meeting the technology and innovation demands of 2023.
Challenge 2: Navigating risk and efficiency using a large portfolio of suppliers
CXOs have to grapple with the impossible challenge of ‘doing more with less’ in their in-house tech team. This can often lead to increased staff attrition and risk employee burnout. Having access to the wide range of tech-stacks necessary to meet the demands of an enterprise business leads to multiple engagements with dozens of suppliers.
This is ineffective, time consuming and inflates the cost of outsourcing engagements.
Challenge 3: Ensuring longevity of skill-base and tech resources.
With dozens of tech-stacks to choose from, CXOs struggle to maintain an up-to-date in-house team which allows them effectively move from one area of digital innovation to another within their businesses.
The looming development talent shortage also makes developer retention difficult. As development talent is continuously flooded with new (and often higher paying) job opportunities, CXOs are left uncertain if they can count on their in-house developers in the long term.
To ensure more company loyalty and trust, some businesses are choosing to invest more in their in-house development team - paying for training opportunities and supporting devs as they learn new skills. However, CXOs have to face the reality that even this level of investment cannot truly ensure the longevity of their tech resources.
Outsourcing: From Cost-Cutting to Co-Creation
For many businesses, COVID-19 marks a key milestone when, out of necessity, they had to rapidly adapt and digitally transform their business. The sudden pivot to work-from-home and online offerings meant businesses had to quickly find solutions to new digital problems. This caused a boom in outsourcing, as businesses were forced to find and hire tech-talent, regardless of their location, to keep the lights on.
Today, IT talent shortages further exacerbate the problem of finding tech talent suited for enterprise businesses. While the initial benefits of outsourcing, such as cost-cutting and increased efficiency are still valid, the value offered by outsourcing partners is changing.
John-David Lovelock, distinguished research VP at Gartner, suggests that from 2022 onward, CIOs can finally begin looking at the future of digital innovation within their businesses, rather than focusing on critical short term projects. (4) This pivot in strategy will help reduce the urgency of finding new talent.
However, the lessened urgency in finding developers, will not necessarily make it easier to scout and retain them. That is why CIOs need to fundamentally change how they view IT talent and outsourcing partners: from a tool used out of necessity, to a collaborative and trusted business partner who can navigate key steps of digitisation (such as application modernisation, cloud migration and innovating digital offerings).
Speaking about the subject, Deazy’s co-founder and CEO, Andy Peddar shares: “Many of our enterprise clients come to us with similar problems surrounding the global IT talent shortage. CEOs, CIOs and CTOs are struggling to meet fluctuating development resource and workload demands. What’s more, due to a lack of high quality talent, businesses are having to take on unnecessary supplier risk.”
“I believe the solution for minimising risk and maximising developer efficiencies, comes with a fundamental reframing of what an outsourcing partner can bring to the table. ” continues Andy. “Enterprise management needs to be intentional with how they build partnerships with development teams, considering which skills they want to cultivate inhouse and which they are strategically looking to outsource. A good outsourcing partner, becomes a co-creation partner, who can bring more than just competent developers to the table, will help CXOs be more ambitious about their innovation, which is key to business longevity.”
With the ever growing pressure on CXOs to find the right tech talent, at the right price and offering the right amount of flexibility, many businesses are beginning to explore new solutions to the talent shortage.
So what is the solution?
For enterprises looking to supercharge their development talent, there are a number of options. From investing in in-house training and collaborating with developer academies, to working alongside a development partner who can provide the right tech talent - whether that's filling a short to medium term gap or creating a long term relationship that enables flexibility and can adapt when the unexpected happens.
Investing in in-house talent
When thinking about how to effectively retain in-house talent, enterprise businesses can choose to invest in current talent rather than hiring new developers with a more advanced skill set. Investing in existing members of staff can help businesses engage their team more effectively and reduce developer turnover by keeping their team excited about work.
Giving developers the time and flexibility to invest in upskilling, through online on in-person courses, can help keep your in-house team happy. This training may be about learning a new tech stack, expanding existing knowledge or developing soft skills such as project management.
By helping people develop and aiding them in gaining new skills, enterprise businesses can use their in-house to deliver against business needs. However, it is important to note, that while training in people can help increase employee loyalty, it doesn’t guarantee that employees won’t leave your company for a better offer elsewhere.
Working with Students/Interns
Another option is investing in future talent, such as apprentices, interns and students. There are many dev academy programmes, colleges and universities partnering with business to connect graduates with opportunities. This can help businesses find cheaper options for dev talent, while also investing in the next generation of development talent.
Collaborating with a tech partner
For many enterprises finding tech talent is urgent. In this case investing in team training or building partnership with a university is not a practical short term strategy. This is where finding a development partner that suits your business needs can come in handy.
There are multiple different types of development partners out there who can help depending on your needs, you can find a few of these options below.
Digital Agencies: Digital agencies are a great option for enterprise businesses looking to outsource an entire creative digital project to a partner. An agency will be able to take on the process of building you a product from ideation, all the way through to delivery. However, it is important to note that this option can often be quite expensive.
Software consultancies: A software consultancy is a great option for enterprise businesses who are uncertain about what direction they should take their innovation and technology. Software consultants can help businesses identify problems and suggest existing software solutions with industry best practices in-mind.
Contractors: Contractors are individuals, who can provide a set of skills on a fixed-contract basis. Contractors are a great option for companies looking to hire someone into a business to perform a short-term role - such as being a contracted developer who helps support and maintain a company's databases over a 6 month period.
Freelancers and Freelance Marketplaces: Freelancers are often independent professionals, who provide their services to a company on a short term basis. Unlike contractors, freelancers usually work on short and specific tasks. They are a great option for businesses looking to onboard talent to perform a specific task such as copy writing or illustrations for a new website.
Strategic delivery partners (like us, Deazy!): One of the newest solutions for today’s developer shortage is strategic delivery partners. These businesses work to curate and vet existing development teams, to create a pool of trusted talent, who are excited to work on new projects. For enterprises looking to streamline the processes of finding development talent, the unique ‘one-to-many’ model of these partners is a great option. By collaborating with a single supplier, who manages their own teams outside of your business, enterprises can minimise supplier risk and enjoy flexibility in choosing the right developers for their projects.
If you are looking for a full out of the box digital delivery solution - book a call with us today!
- Jaffe, S. (2022). Work won't love you back: how devotion to our jobs keeps us exploited, exhausted, and alone. First trade paperback edition. New York, NY, Bold Type Books.