Enterprise Technology: agile leaders driving the rebound

After the fall of the pandemic, new roles in technology and the gap as a whole have rebounded and surpassed the level of 2020, says our head of technology Paul Wright.

Two years of pandemic

As for Odgers Interim’s technological practice, the pandemic has had a “long U-shaped” effect on our business. Unfortunately, for the first few months we saw some great staff, perhaps because the coronavirus still seemed a distant problem.

The UK’s technology (technology) sector has played an important role in mitigating the effects of the health crisis in the first year by supporting the digital transition to distance work and learning. This was quickly followed by a massive acceleration of companies ’adoption of cloud, digital, data and cyber technologies. It is widely acknowledged that in just the first year of the pandemic, the company has undergone a digital transformation equivalent to three years.

The development and distribution of vaccines took an incredible 332 days from the initial DNA sequencing to the first doses administered to us. This required a huge effort by HealthTech to process huge data and ultra-fast scaling in the cloud.

During this period of disruption, a number of leadership roles in personnel, finance, and operations were observed as technology companies restructured their operations to force people to go on vacation or eliminate redundant roles, reconstructed finances to save or raise funds, and increased operational efficiency to reduce costs.

Then the number of new roles was reduced by several months. But activity intensified by the end of 2020, quickly recovering late last year when we climbed the “other side of the U”. So much so that we are now above the level of 2020 both in technology and in the intermediate plan as a whole.

As a practice, we serve as many mid-market customers as large enterprises, especially those supported by private equity. This reflects the flow of investment in technology amid the contagion, as there are now probably three times more private companies in the UK than PLC, and new ones are being released every month.

Where we are now

Last year, we saw three broad trends that emerged in the first quarter of this year.

The first is the transition from restructuring to growth. This new music for the mood means that the need for on-demand CEOs and C-Suite leaders in finance, HR and technology has resurfaced. Through them flows the fact that they are all aimed at planning and providing the future state of the business, where high growth is expected.

Given this growth in technology CEOs, we have seen a resumption of demand for interim leaders in sales and marketing, a segment that is still less developed in interim management. Throughout the pandemic, it was difficult to sell to new customers, and many technology companies doubled on incoming customers rather than led a cold business development.

But it is now widely focused on the need to return to core marketing and accelerate sales. Again, sales and marketing leaders are being hired more widely, and companies are investing significant resources in both functions to make them more digital, data-driven, repetitive and more closely aligned.

The second upswing we are seeing is accelerating the digital transformation with increasing roles of program directors to manage all project outcomes for change with much greater speed and intensity. In technology it is fast to move, otherwise you will be overtaken by competition!

Third, it combines the connection for all of this with digital, data, cloud and cyber – either in company type or role. These are not new, but topics that have been playing in technology for five years or more. What’s new is the pandemic has made them mandatory (rather than optional), hastened their adoption and made them more intertwined, thus inherently more complex.

Pandemic paradoxes and beyond

The pandemic has also caused some real leadership paradoxes. While enterprise software and IT services have focused on hybrid work, hardware-driven businesses such as electronics, semiconductors and photonics have also focused on attracting workers to factories and their safety. Just like 55% of the British workforce who remained at work throughout the health crisis.

The CEOs of enterprise technology believe that while employees worked in their teams, collaboration, cross-selling and innovation decreased. Executives acknowledge that staying together in the office would help solve this problem, but the paradox is that even if employees say they want more personal collaboration, they want more flexible telecommuting.

Moreover, initially many thought that hybrid work would solve or at least alleviate the shortcomings of inclusion and diversity. But this hope remains unfulfilled, as, for example, research The Economist suggests that ethnic minorities and women prefer WFH and seem more reluctant to return to offices.

When we return to the office, the paradoxical task is to balance the needs of employees with the imperatives of business growth (against the background of the “Great Resignation”) and avoid double labor. These paradoxes indicate that providing hybrid work designed to optimize flexibility, a level playing field and reload learning for the less experienced will remain a key challenge for leadership in 2022.

In terms of the subsector, FinTech is attracting huge amounts of investment, with S&P reporting a threefold increase in 2021. These are not “just” digital payments and banking services that have increased significantly with the transition to the internet during the pandemic, but now include WealthTech, Reg (ulation) Tech and TradingTech. In fact, two-thirds of our work last quarter was at FinTech, reflecting the UK’s position as a hub for the sector.

Technology will remain the focus for us as this market is underserved. Those businesses involved in grand funding rounds need high-impact leaders to help address the management, regulation, and compliance requirements associated with expansion, often toward an IPO. In this sense, FinTech will become more like the core Enterprise Technology enterprises in which we have served for the past five years.

In the third year of the pandemic across the entire technology landscape the need for flexible leadership is common to all businesses. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. But true, agile leaders who maintain a high frequency of true open communication inspire their people so that their technology business can outperform its counterparts.

Contact for more information Paul Wright.

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