The State of I.T Today

Technology shapes the world around us with innovative and rapid change, and represents significant opportunities and risks for society as a whole. In the UK, our tech sector is growing faster than our wider economy. This growth is also reflected across the globe with CompTIA recently projecting 2017 will see the global IT industry will grow by 4.1% and Gartner analysts forecasting global IT expenditure to reach $3.5 trillion in 2017, driven by the investment in software and IT services.

Whether you’re considering a role within tech or are already well immersed in the world of IT, our latest blog takes a look at some of the key areas that make this such a dynamic space to operate in today.

1. Women in IT

As we’ve previously looked at, there is a significant shortage of women in Cyber Security. But this issue is not solely confined to cyber security, it’s a problem throughout the whole IT sector.

Deloitte Global accurately predicted that by the end of 2016 less than 25% of IT jobs in developed countries would be held by women. This statistic may come as a surprise to some but it’s part of an ongoing issue that needs to be continually questioned, explored and ultimately addressed.

So, what are the reasons for this distinct lack of women in Information Technology roles?

First Round, a venture capital firm interviewed over 700 founders (83% of whom were male) and asked participants their thoughts on why there is a significant lack of women within the field.

Almost 50% of men believed the main reason was that at the first instance, fewer women and other minorities enter the tech sector. However, only 23% of women who responded to the same question agreed. Instead, the female survey responders believed that the lack of diversity was down to an unconscious bias, something only 12% of male responders agreed with.

Over the last few years, there has been a widely reported lack of IT candidates which according to the Global Digital Transformation Study by Brocade, sees 63% of IT leaders struggling to fill vacant positions.

The British Chambers of Commerce recently released the results of their digital skills survey further highlighting the increasing importance of digital talent for the productivity and competitiveness of business. 84% of respondents stated that digital and IT skills are more important to their business than 2 years ago, whilst the increased demand for talent resulted in majority of respondents reporting a shortage of talent.

This skills gap is also helping to drive up salaries, and according to Tech City UK, Brexit could further advance this trend if international talent becomes harder to access.

This should make it a perfect time for women to break the glass ceiling and forge successful careers within tech. So how can the industry encourage women into the IT field and support those already working within tech to thrive?

Recruiters Robert Walters are asking the same questions. Their research found that 76% of women already working within tech believe flexible working encourages employee retention, however unsuprisingly, career development opportunities remained essential for job satisfaction.

While individual businesses can benefit greatly from a diverse workforce, so can the global economy. According to McKinsey, advancing women’s equality could add $12 trillion to global growth by 2025 but to achieve parity between men and women, the public, private and social sectors all need to work together.

2. Impact of Brexit

The EU referendum generated many polarised arguments over the perceived benefits and drawbacks of Britain’s exit from the EU. Many operating with the technology sector were vocal opponents of Brexit with industry group Tech London Advocates reporting that 87% of members were against Britain leaving the EU.

One of the leading factors behind this were concerns that British companies would find it harder to connect to customers in the European Union, along with increased difficulty in sourcing talent from outside the UK. These concerns are validated by recent statistics which indicate that British employees only account for 50% of total UK tech workforce, whilst EU employees and non-EU employees represent the remaining proportion at 30% and 20% respectively.

After the referendum exit vote, shares in technology companies crashed, skimming over £100bn off of the market capitalisation of some of the UK’s best rated bluechip companies. However, the FTSE 100 has since regained all losses since the Brexit vote, shirking off fears of a recession. Tudor Aw, head of technology at KPMG UK is confident in the sector’s resilience in the face of leaving the EU: “Technology is a sector that will only increase in importance and works without borders, I therefore continue to see the UK Tech sector as one that will not only withstand the immediate challenges of the referendum result, but one that will continue to grow and thrive.”

Now almost a year since the EU referendum, has there been any changes to the technology sector?

Consumers and businesses have seen some price rises for products from companies like Microsoft, who did so to “harmonise prices for enterprise software and cloud services within the EU/EFTA region”. Conversely, technology giant Adobe is planning to continue its expansion within the UK and Apple has committed to a new UK headquarters within the redeveloped Battersea Power Station.

Over the next few years there will certainly be more developments as the UK starts the complicated process of exiting the EU. With a renewed optimism, many leaders within the industry are sure London will maintain its reputation as a global tech hub and will rise to any challenge the new sanctions raise.

3. How IT jobs are changing in light of new technologies

In some of our other blog posts we have looked into the most in demand jobs within Computing and Cyber Security, showing the variety of roles and fantastic development opportunities the sector can provide. Alongside this, salaries are rising with recruiters Robert Walters’ finding that wages for IT security professionals could increase by 8% over the next year, whilst data analysts salaries could rise by 4% during the same period. James Murray, associate director at Robert Walters believes this is due, in part, to an increase in frequency and size of data breaches reported, highlighting the need for data insight specialists. Highly publicised breaches, such as the Yahoo ‘the biggest data breach in history’ which involved 1 billion user accounts, are also ensuring that information security is at the forefront of consumers’ minds when sharing their details with companies and associated third parties.

With British workers spending half a year in front of a screen, our usage and consumption of technology and online services is driving businesses to continue innovating their offerings and advancing their security measures, translating to a workplace revolution for IT specialists around the world.

Accenture sees the development of intelligent processes continuing to develop over traditional processes that can limit companies’ productivity and adaptability to changing environments. The term ‘intelligent processes’ relating to the introduction of machine learning and automation into operations and the way human workers interact with technology.

The rapid progression of technology has long been a cause for concern for some, fearing that job roles will increasingly be replaced with robots in a wave of automation. While some jobs have been made obsolete by the introduction of robots, a study of census results in England and Wales since 1871 finds the rise of machines has created far more jobs than it has replaced.

For IT professionals, these changes have led to new job roles and demands for new skills within areas such as the Internet of Things (IoT) or artificial intelligence (AI). More traditional roles are also evolving, for example for a Network Manager being an expert at networking topologies is no longer enough, experience is also needed with control panels, servers and cloud integration.

The traditional PC has fallen out of favour with users as mobile web usage surpassed the desktop for the first time in late 2016. Our reliance on mobile devices and the various platforms available in market has also helped drive demand for developers who specialise in creating applications or responsive web pages for mobile usage.

Due to the fast and ever developing world of technology, it’s essential for businesses and those who work in the field to keep abreast of the latest developments. For those looking to advance their skills and take advantage of the new opportunities the industry creates, studying part-time can be an ideal way to remain in touch with the industry whilst learning new skills.

Northumbria University London provides part-time Masters programmes delivered over 9-18 weekends spread over a two year period in our central London campus. Our programmes include the MSc Computer Science and MSc Cyber Security, with start dates in January, June and September each year. With multiple financing options available, including postgraduate financing and instalment plans available, studying for an MSc could be a great stepping stone to advance your career in tech.

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