2018 started off as a promising year: Economy still going strong, lots of new developments in the market, the technological progress literally unstoppable and people being positive about their lives in general and their future perspectives. A few questions still to be answered, e.g. how to prepare the company in order to comply with the new GDPR regulations as well as the big political and economic question throughout Europe: what is going to happen in terms of BREXIT?
Well, we’ve all gone through year 2018 and I guess most of us can say that is has been a good year. No big issues, no economic crisis, no major hick-ups. Have all of us accomplished our mission? Not very likely, but we’re still working on it. And the good thing is there is a new year to come with new chances and opportunities! Reflecting on the recent year is one thing to do. But soon enough we switch into our ‘making plans mode’ for the new year.
New goals, new plans, maybe even a new mission?
So much more fun! Right, but before we do that, let’s stick with the old year for a little longer. For EclectiC it has been a solid year. Admittedly, we had bigger plans in terms of growth. In the end we can speak about stable revenue and profit, a slightly growing client base, some great additions to our team and some services that we could re-establish after a few years of not being required by our clients. As a management team we can be satisfied: The company is healthy, our employees are successful and earn a good living, our clients are content and we can move on in order to take the company to the next level. Well, that might be easier said than done. In fact, reaching the next level can be much more than just going for another milestone. It is not only dependent on the performance of our team, lean processes and smart tools and ideas. It is also very much dependent on the current market situation, the plans and progress of our client’s organization as well as the wider economic development around the world.
Looking at it from the shareholder perspective the picture is a bit of a different one. How is it possible that the papers are full of articles about companies’ growth plans, ongoing technical invention and ever-present scarceness of talent, but at the same time staffing companies are only growing slowly? Well, there is lots of reasoning behind it which might not always be a satisfying answer. In fact the staffing market has been under pressure for many years. Big companies rely more and more on third parties that take over all staffing efforts and make sure that the legal side of it is covered properly. At the same time these companies increasingly need to fight for their margins, which seems ridiculous as they are still asked to carry the legal burden as well as the full responsibility that comes with it. Staffing is less an effort of HR and hiring departments but more and more an effort for purchasing departments in these days. Most corporate companies are asked to perform better, make more profit, invent quicker and show the world how sustainable they are while needing to cut cost even more year by year. In order to be able to do that they rely on suppliers that can help achieve these goals by providing smart solutions and taking over responsibility, effort and in the end cost. This is an unhealthy development that will hit us all hard sooner or later.
Different market, different requirements, different talent…
But there is more developments in the market, e.g. the requirement of different talent. We see a huge increase in the request of profiles like business analysts, data analysts as well as DevOps specialists and testers – roles that we hardly knew five years ago. Companies have been stepping over to the implementation of parts of standard software solutions or the combination of different ones in order to be better able to map their specific processes on them. Where in the old days a huge software package of one supplier has been installed and customized as far as possible, now best suitable parts of different solutions are selected (best of breeds approach), implemented and connected via smart APIs, middleware and service buses. Process specialists, data analysts and IT developers with lots of operational and product development knowledge that are able to create the perfect tailor-made solution in no time are needed. Testers, Test Coordinators as well as Test Managers are required in order to make sure that what is developed functions according to the needs of the business at any time and stage of the development process. It is an interesting exercise to observe the requirements of companies in terms of talent and staff over time as it says lots about what is going on internally.
The other development is the revival of recruitment requirements over the last few years. Where we had times in which only flexible staff has been required, especially in the IT sector, we receive lots of questions about permanent recruitment in these days again. It is a natural development that comes with the recovery of the markets after the last crisis in 2008/2009. Companies realize that they have not recruited specialists for years but fully relied on flexible staff which makes them vulnerable in a way. The knowledge is hard to be maintained if specialists keep leaving the company after a project has been finished. Documentation often is less good as it should be, so the recruitment of permanent people seems to be part of the solution. People also tend to think of it as the less expensive solution, which is only partly the truth. The break-even point is calculated to be at 1,5 years. If a specialist is needed for more than 1,5 years by a company, it is cheaper to hire permanently in the end. In any other case a freelancer is the less expensive solution on average. However, the hiring process of a permanent employee can be a long lasting exercise. Even clients that are screaming for help as they are not able to conduct their projects without new staff take lots of time to find what they think the right person is. Feedback cycles last very long and – well known for years already – we keep looking for someone with an almost unrealistic / non-existent profile in terms of skills, competences and experience. This makes it impossible to move quickly which requires an interim solution again – the freelance professional.
What else? Apart from endless possibilities in such a vital market we see an overall development that should make us pause and think for a while. Highly innovative tech-companies have literally taken over all of our lives. We all are transparent in terms of data that has been gathered about us and we are highly influenceable while most of us don’t even recognize it. Our young generation is addicted to a smart device that is doing no good when it comes to their development as a person. We are dealing with high numbers of depression, burn-outs and mentally ill people and we know where it is coming from. The internet – one of the greatest gifts we got during the past 20 years – is slowly taking over our lives, our personalities, our society, our everything. We cannot live without because we would not want to miss all the comfort in our daily lives we get from it. However, it has grown to a dimension that is not controllable for the individual anymore, but is well controlled by some single instances that make use from it recklessly. What is the solution? A kind of new internet is needed. A 3.0 version that serves the well-being of the people but is used reasonably and respects the privacy of the individual. Devices that are secure to be used and enable us to communicate without being spied on continuously. Applications that serve the bigger purpose and not the pure and unfiltered entertainment of the crowd.
EclectiC has always been one of the forward-thinking companies and is participating in innovative projects and product-development efforts currently. Great plans, a new mission and lots to come in 2019! Stay tuned!