Trendsetter Tech Sector 

Trendsetter Tech Sector 

The Indiana technology industry has a much bigger impact on business in our state than other employers realize. It’s a major influencer on just about everything – like what we do, what tools we use, how we interact, and how we seek to define our company cultures. Tech sets the trend in so many ways, and the industry has been evolving rapidly.

We wanted to learn more about the ways tech has shaped other business sectors, so we reached out to the experts at TechPoint, a nonprofit growth accelerator for the Indiana tech industry. Three of TechPoint’s officials spoke with us and shared their perspectives on some of today’s trends.

 

Ting Gootee.

Building Indiana (BIN): What should Indiana business leaders know about our state’s technology industry?

Ting Gootee, TechPoint President, CEO: Indiana business leaders should know they don’t have to look outside the state for their technology needs. We have numerous high quality local companies that can meet needs for artificial intelligence, board management, B2B and B2C marketing, big data, data management, digital engineering, communications, customer service, cybersecurity, education, engineering, IT, software development, software management, web development, and many other technologies.

 

Jessica Stephenson.

BIN: Tech companies have a reputation for progressive work cultures and many of the work/life benefits that are highly sought by employees. How has this influenced companies in other industries?

Jessica Stephenson, TechPoint VP of Marketing: The sector has a fast-moving vibe compared to say, traditional manufacturing or agricultural endeavors and acquisition of tech talent has always been a highly competitive sport. That has encouraged tech companies to prioritize employee engagement, culture, and innovative rewards programs perhaps more so than other, more established sectors.

As these other sectors face the same talent scarcity, there’s increased pressure on them to offer more attractive work cultures. This heightened competition has turned what used to be robust reward plans (e.g., 401K match, PTO, medical insurance) into simple table stakes relative to the packages employees can now attain in exchange for the right skills. This is a positive paradigm shift that has created space for more thoughtful work cultures that now also emphasize inclusive leadership and professional development activities, community impact, corporate social responsibility programs, and employee mental health support.

We’d like to think that the majority of Indiana business leaders support work/life balance, equity for all, and careers where people of all genders and ethnicities feel welcome and can thrive. We see this philosophy as positive and believe most of our fellow Hoosiers see it that way, too.

 

Dennis Trinkle.

BIN: Labor shortages consistently rank as one of the top issues facing the Hoosier tech sector. Yet, jobs in tech are often viewed as among the most desirable. What has led to this gap? Is it simply a shortage of skilled individuals, or are there other issues hindering the hiring process?

Dennis Trinkle, TechPoint EVP of Talent Pathways and Programs: There are definitely other issues hindering the hiring process and exacerbating the gap between demand for tech workers and its supply. Part of it is due to lower birth rates which have led to fewer college graduates just as Baby Boomers are retiring in droves. So there really are literally fewer people available to fill the growing demand for tech workers.

But it’s not that simple. Part of it is inequitable pathways to get the education and training young people of all genders, ethnicities, and social circumstances need to get into tech careers. Adding to that is the fact that many jobs in tech do not demand higher education but could begin with certifications. There is also little uniformity in how tech positions are advertised and how candidates are screened for potential employment.

So, in short, we have fewer people available for more jobs, and the current structure in place to develop new talent is difficult, disconnected, and littered with obstacles to get more people in position to fill the talent pipeline.

 

BIN: Efforts to make the tech sector more inclusive and equitable are big trends in the industry right now. What do these efforts look like in our state? What’s been changing or evolving lately?

Trinkle: So glad you asked this question! TechPoint has a goal to help develop 45,000 new tech workers for Indiana tech companies by 2030.

Many organizations and businesses have been trying to increase the talent pool in the past several years, but doing so in ways we’ve realized are outdated, inefficient, and even broken. Many business leaders have learned that we need to bring all those efforts together, improve them, and create an environment where people of all backgrounds, ages, and genders have a fair shot at starting fulfilling and lucrative tech careers. The biggest change, or evolution as you put it, just might be the realization/acceptance that what we’ve been doing isn’t enough. It isn’t equitable and must change.