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AZ Tech Beat | September 20, 2019

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AZ Tech CEOs reveal top concerns for growth in TECNA and AZ Tech Council survey

AZ Tech CEOs reveal top concerns for growth in TECNA and AZ Tech Council survey
Tishin Donkersley

It’s no surprise that Arizona’s technology sector is thriving, companies are in a growth state and talent acquisition is on the rise. GoDaddy, Appointment-Plus, Infusionsoft, and now with the announcement of Apple and Gigya landing here, are prime examples of our growth and need for talent. However, there is a nationwide growing concern of shortage of tech talent according to the second annual National Survey of Technology, Policy and Strategic Issues released this month by the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA) and the Arizona Technology Council.

The survey by TECNA, a non-profit trade association of regional technology organizations which serves as a leading voice in growing the North American technology economy, reveals that nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of the 1,700-plus C-level executives surveyed across the U.S. say they intend to hire new staff over the next 12 months. Small companies (74 percent) and medium firms (72 percent) are the most optimistic on hiring. However, in the Midwest and West, 72 percent of respondents say there’s a shortage in tech talent. The Northeast (67 percent) and South (65 percent) were slightly lower.

Even with the perceived shortage, national survey results indicated an improving sentiment about overall business conditions, with the biggest jump occurring in feelings about the overall economy. It’s at 56.4 on a 100-point scale, compared to 46.3 a year ago; and with expectations of more improvement – albeit modest – over the next six months.

Drilling it down to Arizona, the concern for a tech talent shortage is there, but it won’t stop the hiring frenzy or expansions on the horizon. The Arizona specific survey included 103 AZ Tech Council executives, 30 percent who are in the IT or telecommunciations sector. The results revealed:

*49 percent planned an increase in staffing levels in technical positions

*51 percent to increase in investments in new products or business lines

*56 percent to increase marketing and advertising expenditures

*44 percent indicate an increase in technology expenditures

*46 percent to increase staff training or professional development

This growth doesn’t come without concerns, the Arizona executives expressed the following issues that could inhibit their growth:

*55 percent shared a concern about government regulation

*49 percent are concerned about economy paralysis

*29 percent feel the pressure to lower pricing

*27 percent are concerned about accessing capital/credit for expansion

*22 percent are concerned about acquiring talent

Steven G. Zylstra, TECNA chairman and president and chief executive officer of the Arizona Technology Council states, “Government regulation is the biggest business concern of local executives and the need for government support for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education at the K-12 level leads the national average.”

Another main concern is that close to 70 percent of Arizona executives felt state/regional government did not represent the interests of the tech sector segmentation well.

“Efforts to increase our tech sector representation with the federal government, in particular for small and medium sized businesses, are central to TechVoice, our advocacy partnership between Arizona Technology Council, TECNA and CompTIA,” said Zylstra. “Tax and regulatory barriers to tech entrepreneurs, advancing a skilled and career-ready 21st century workforce, and Internet governance are the major policy topics currently being addressed throughout TechVoice advocacy efforts.”

As for staffing, there was a concern among executives to fill the positions, however, survey results indicated they are full steam ahead with growth; 50 percent respondents said they plan to hire for newly created or additional positions and 20 percent plan to hire for back-fill openings for existing headcount. The good part is that the results indicated that the likelihood of layoffs were extremely low.

So where are these AZ companies going to get these employees? One survey question asked about the likelihood of hiring foreign workers-over 77 percent indicated that they were neutral or not likely to hire them.

One statistic that stood out was that 70 percent of executives believe that the tech sector is under-performing to its potential. Well AZ, let’s change that.

Share your thoughts on the survey and overall landscape of the AZ tech sector below.

The survey: Data for this study was collected via a September 2013 online survey of 1,763 senior (C-level) IT, technology and business executives belonging to one of the regional technology associations affiliated with TECNA. The complete survey is available at tecna.org.

Read the full national survey report on the Arizona Technology website: http://bit.ly/19hSn9q

Read the Arizona specific results of the national report at the Council’s website: http://bit.ly/HLqxvV

To learn more about the Arizona Technology Council, please visit www.aztechcouncil.org.