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5 best tweets / quotes / things we learnt - The #HNTechSurvey - "The Race of Your Life"

Held at The May Fair Hotel, London, 23/11/2017, nearly 200 technology and digital experts gathered to hear the results of the 2017 Harvey Nash Technology Survey.

Our photographer was there to capture it all. Take a look in our photo album

The panel were:
Eleanor O'Neil, Chief Customer Experience Officer at Workshare
Rachel O'Brien; Chief Transformation Officer, Technology at Ladbrokes Coral Group
Santosh Sahu; CEO at LastMileLink Technologies

Panel host: Dave Savage, Associate Director, Harvey Nash Group


orla 1.jpgOrla O'Reilly @OrlaAoife
Some interesting insights on tech and innovative from the panel at #HNtechsurvey tonight. Main employability factors regardless of age includes experience, innovative ideas and cultural fit.
orla 2.jpg

codo.jpgCoDo London @CodoLondon
Great insights from an impressive panel at #hntechsurvey launch event, courtesy of @HarveyNashGroup

tillr.jpgtillr @tillr_io
Team @tillr_io at the Harvey Nash Tech Survey last night. A lively evening with an engaging panel discussion about today's tech trends! #HNTechSurvey #healthandsafety #GDPR

Shiv.jpgShiv Kaul @ShivKaul2
Thanks to Harvey Nash for organising the Global Tech Survey event #hntechsurvey @TheMayFairHotel

barry.jpgBarry Tuckwood @BarryTuckwood
At #HNtechsurvey. Quick summary of the report, then the panel.
barry 2.jpg


Regarding regulation in tech:
Santosh: Regardless of regulations and limitations, customers increasingly want immediate gratification - whether it's a robot or human doing the delivery or work - so long as they get it on time!
Rachel: Tech will drive regulations - but is technology ahead of the regulations? Is the consumer driving the regulations? The answer is; absolutely yes!
Santosh: [on Amazon's drone delivery initiative] Who is driving them? Can you imagine them around London?! Who is going to regulate that? Have we regulated it yet? No. Therefore, tech is always driving regulation.

On data and geographical limitations
Eleanor: Providing products to store data, is that the important part? Or is it important as to be where the human is? My view on regulation is that there is big pressure from technology and a desire to gain value from technology too, but there is that pressure for tech to do more - regulations therefore catch up with the technology... we try to be an enabler to work with the regulations.
Rachel: What is common is the data and how people are starting to recognise the value of it - as a consumer we want control of that data.

On legacy organisations and start-ups, and protecting innovation:
Dave: Increasingly, we see legacy organisations wanting to partner with start-ups to allow them to be more flexible, the number of [start-up] businesses being incorporated by bigger organisations is actually at a 30 year low - how do we protect the start-ups and innovation?
Santosh: I don't know where you got those stats!
Dave: The Guardian!
Santosh: In London, there are more start-ups starting than ending and as such they [the bigger organisations] have to react to this change. Take 'John Lewis Ventures', they directly source innovation from start-ups. In the US, we have 'Walmart via Walmart Labs'; they are purchasing start-ups for their innovation and have seen their share price has gone up due to this reaction to compete with Amazon.
For legacy organisations, the best way to innovate is to 'look outside' - to innovate you need the culture, funding, resources and environment.

On ageism in the tech sector:
Rachel: We are in a unique position as we are going through an enormous transformation project - so what's the right diverse mix in our talent pool? For me, there's 3 factors affecting employability:
1 - Experience
2 - Ideas
3 - Cultural Fit
We will reward people who do deliver, that have the innovative ideas and are actually able to deploy these ideas, regardless of age. You need a range of people to do this and you need that diverse mix of people.
Dave: Experience and empathy comes over time and with data it is easy to stir it up and get certain trends.
Eleanor: Skillsets needed always demand diversity, I'm a technologist and fell victim to the fast pace the tech demands, and as we keep transforming and driving change we've seen the true strength that maturity brings.
Santosh: Experience is so important in this fast-paced world, if you can mix millennial tech savviness with experienced people then the combination is positively 'lethal'

On Culture and ageism
Audience member: [Regarding their experience of first-hand ageism] I've been interviewing for new positions in tech and they all say; 'you're not the right cultural fit'. I find difficult to swallow just because I don't have a pair of snazzy 'jeans' and turn up to interviews in a suit and tie - is this just an excuse?
Santosh: We hire people who wear shorts, jeans, suits etc. it doesn't matter! Culture for us is the mindset - are they willing to stretch boundaries? Can they cope with chaos? That's what matters to us as chaos is constant!
Audience member: Regarding finding a good cultural fit among candidates, I was just wondering what are your cultural markers?
Eleanor: We invest in culture. We host days that are designed to be spent debating and testing our own values, amongst all our teams. We need to reach a point of shared values and negotiate what are the priorities and then we commit to meeting them. What is the broader workshare experience? It is about collaboration and the team, the first thing I did with my teams were to take them offsite and debate what our culture is and values are. I choose to invest in our culture, making space and time for this enables collaboration, it is important to invest and be self-aware of your culture.
Audience member: Is age a factor or just perception? And also - there's a chronic shortage of digital and tech skills, competency based interviews do they help or hinder?
Santosh: If I'm looking for a data scientist I'm more likely to find that in a recent PhD graduate than in someone with 20 years experience.
For us, what is important and what I tell Harvey Nash is; 'don't give me a CV unless you've met that person and can go to the pub with them' i.e. can you get along with that person? Then, following this, do they have the capability?


Spaghetti makes you less innovative

When considering innovation, a crucial factor that needs to be considered is company age.

Respondents from organisations that were younger than 10 years were significantly more likely to consider their company as 'very innovative' as opposed to respondents from older organisations.

This is perhaps not a surprise. For some older organisations, maintaining and keeping together the 'spaghetti' of legacy systems and processes is certainly enough to extinguish the will to live in even the most enthusiastic of innovators.

It could be assumed that company size has an impact on innovation, the bigger the company the more innovation is churned out? In actuality, apart from the very smallest of companies, size really doesn't matter.

Regardless of whether you have a turnover of $50m or $500m, your likelihood of being very innovative hovers around the 20%-27% mark. It seems, therefore, that legacy spaghetti is the real brake on innovation vehicle, not size or complexity - and older companies have a lot more spaghetti.

Over 40 and over the hill?

We are all aware of the issue that is vexing the tech sector; we need more women in tech, however, this year's survey casts a light on another area of inclusion that is in many ways invisible to most people, but no less an issue.


It seems that during their twenties and thirties, age has insignificant impact (positive or negative) on tech people's career prospects. At around 35-39 people hit a sweet spot where they are neither young nor old, and see this as particularly advantageous to their career progression.

But then something happens.

At the age of 40-44, the proportion of respondents reporting that their age negatively impacts them rises from 21% to 35%. And it doesn't stop there.

Each year you get older the chances of you feeling negative about your age goes up by 2% - so by the time you are in your early 50s, almost 6 in 10 of respondents believe age is against you. This is a true area of concern.

All the respondents who are 20-30 years old thinking that this is irrelevant to you, then think again because, alas, everyone grows older!

Bespoke Software is Dead? But so was Schrödinger's cat...

Almost half of respondents (45%) believe that with the progress of cloud and outsourcing, corporate IT departments will need less bespoke software. In fact, 1 in 10 think it will die out altogether.

This certainly makes sense; why spend so much money recruiting, rewarding and retaining that most expensive and (increasingly) rare of individuals, the Software Developer, when someone else can do it for you? And why pay money to host and support your software when others can handle it more efficiently? Why, indeed.

Surely bespoke is dead then? Well actually, not quite, because a very sizeable proportion (35%) think it will actually grow. In fact, while 1 in 10 think bespoke software is already dead, 1 in 10 think it will grow significantly!

Rather like Schrödinger's cat, it is both dead and alive.

'Bespoke' is Driving Innovation

The nature of bespoke development is changing.

While bespoke software is being used less to build the 'standard' systems of companies, it is now being used much more to drive innovation activities.

57% of all respondents believe corporate IT departments are increasingly using bespoke software to drive innovation, and this goes up to 68% of respondents employed by very innovative organisations.

Similarly, we are seeing demand for Software Engineers and Developers remain high. On average, they receive 8 to 9 headhunt calls a year respectively, a figure that has grown in the last 5 years.

Bespoke software is very much alive, just in a newer innovative iteration.

Who is Driving Innovation?

We asked who in your organisations are the true drivers of tech. Who is your company's Elon Musk? Who is actually propelling innovation?

Without doubt, the tech community sees the CTO as the driver of technology advancement. The CEO came second and the CIO a rather distant third.

For CIOs, who often see innovation as a big part of their agenda, this will surely come as worrying news.

Of course, the ultimate objectives of both the CTO and CIO roles is to create business value through technology. Whilst each role demands a deep understanding of both business and technology, at the risk of oversimplification, the CTO asks; 'What opportunities do technology create for the business?', whereas the CIO asks, 'What are the business needs and how can these be satisfied by technology?' Both very valid questions, but you can see the more tech proactiveness in the CTO's question, no?

Recruiters are better than algorithms (sometimes)

We asked this question - Human or algorithm: which is best at judging how good your tech experience is?

As a recruitment company, it is warming and reassuring to know that the vast majority of our candidates prefer dealing with us, real people with human emotions, to software-based algorithms.

However, we can't ignore the fact 1 in 5 of you feel that software is better, and that proportion goes up to 1 in 3 for certain types of roles like Software Developers. Even 1 in 6 CIOs/CTOs think software would do a better job. Rest assured, we are not taking this personally...

Increasingly, software will become more intelligent and powerful in this area. It also has the feature of being 'blind' without unconscious bias and having no prejudices (assuming the algorithm's programmer doesn't have either) and thus doesn't care about your gender, colour or age.

The challenge for (human) recruiters will be to find ways of adding value beyond what software can do...

This survey found that this year's hottest skillsets were: database engineers, architects, UX/UI, software engineers and security specialists.

Thank you to everyone who took part, and who continue to make the Tech Survey events a wonderful way to share knowledge and insights. Please feel free to tweet about the event, survey and anything else you may wish to raise at #HNTechSurvey @hntechnology.

If you would like to find out more about Harvey Nash please visit, or contact or

Blog written by

Jack Pearce,
Senior Bid and Content Writer