Businesses losing tech talent due to lack of focus on innovation

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Less than 20 per cent of IT workers believe their company is focusing enough on innovation, leading many to look towards new companies and start-ups.

Seven out of 10 workers in the industry have looked for a new job in the past year, according to a new EMC study, 'The Great Skills Exodus', and, though half of respondents aspire to work for large IT firms such as IBM, EMC and Microsoft, 32 per cent said they would rather work for tech-driven start-ups like Uber. A further 41 per cent said they wanted to work at digital organisations like Facebook.

Ross Fraser, UK and Ireland country manager for EMC, said: "Technology is at the heart of business transformation and the IT team is ideally placed to help any organisation navigate new opportunities and threats in the market.

"With employment of IT professionals forecast to grow at 1.62 per cent per year by 2020, businesses must ensure that they offer the most compelling career opportunities in order to retain the best staff, or risk losing as many as three quarters of their IT team in the coming months something which would have a hugely detrimental impact on any organisation."

The study surveyed 500 IT and cybersecurity employees from organisations with 250+ UK workers, and 109 IT decision makers from businesses based in Ireland.

Despite structured career progression and salaries from start-ups being less attractive to tech workers, a commitment to innovation and potentially lucrative shares in the company often outweigh those downsides, said Lorraine Beer, enabler at Entrepreneurial Spark - the world's largest free accelerator focusing on entrepreneurs - at a roundtable event hosted by EMC.

"When you're in a start-up environment, the business is the technology," she said. "It's completely pivotal to the success of the start-up, and the entrepreneur 100 per cent knows that without that person they don't have a business. They're completely key to firstly the business, and secondly to innovation."

In contrast, large enterprise companies are failing to prioritise this side of their business, with 26 per cent of respondents saying that their organisation is unwilling to change how "things have always been done." A further 23 per cent claimed a lack of understanding of IT's role and 30 per cent said there was a lack of opportunity to demonstrate their abilities.

Also speaking at the roundtable, Simon Hansford, CEO at Skyscape Cloud Services, said: "As a company that has seen exponential growth in a relatively short amount of time, our team is continually focused on creating rewarding careers and opportunities for top IT talent. As well as strong academic and technical expertise and experience, we've seen employees thrive in agile and fast paced environments that foster innovation.

"EMC's report proves it's a fundamental necessity within business to invest in our people, providing them with adequate training programmes and fostering growth in STEM careers."

"[Technology] is not a skill that entrepreneurs will self-develop, firstly because of speed and secondly because they can't upskill themselves enough to make it worthwhile," added Entrepreneurial Spark's Beer. "What an entrepreneur doesn't need is a coder, they don't need somebody who can just develop. They need somebody who can architect a scalable system, who can innovate and drive strategy and really push technology forward."

Caroline Preece

Caroline has been writing about technology for more than a decade, switching between consumer smart home news and reviews and in-depth B2B industry coverage. In addition to her work for IT Pro and Cloud Pro, she has contributed to a number of titles including Expert Reviews, TechRadar, The Week and many more. She is currently the smart home editor across Future Publishing's homes titles.

You can get in touch with Caroline via email at