A recent salary survey by Dice.com says that senior tech salaries are on the rise. There are a few things we can learn from this change in direction, and it’s not only that good tech people deserve more money.
The Dice Salary survey was conducted online with 8,325 employed technology professionals between September 19 and November 21, 2011. The results showed an average 2% increase in annual wages over 2010 (from $79,384 to $81,327). Bonuses looked even better jumping up 8%.
The salary stats speak volumes about the importance of harnessing data properly for businesses and finding intelligent ways to both understand and use it.
It is our technical people that both create and support the systems that capture big data, and use the tools that analyze it. And it’s big data that many are saying is the key to developing truly great customer experiences. Darren Guaranccia agrees with this saying:“ Today’s analytics compress their collected data into summary statistics to save space. Big data is the promise of retaining this beautifully detailed data, and helping us plumb its depths to better engage and interact with our customers, even in real-time.”
There is a growing convergence between IT and business, with many employees starting to work in roles that overlap the two. This enables a technical employee to contribute directly to decisions made that define the customer experience. Whether it’s through analyzing the data and making recommendations, or through designing online systems that utilize that data, the tech employee is no longer stuck in the backroom pumping out code.
Alice Hill, Managing Director, Dice.com had this to say about the salary increases:
“…a continuation of the trends we’ve seen toward tech professionals helping their companies gain more insight into their cost structures, customer behavior and emerging trends. If tech professionals spark companies to win by harnessing their data, that’s when the tech department is no longer seen as a cost center, but a strategic partner in meeting companies’ goals.”
And Harnessing Knowledge
The Dice survey did say that entry level jobs were the opposite of senior salaries though. Which means organizations are likely bringing in less experienced people into entry level tech jobs. To me, this leads to two very important ideas about capturing and sharing knowledge.
The first is, as a general rule (and I lived this to know), senior tech people hate to document. It’s a pain in the butt, but more importantly it takes them away from working on the ideas, and designing great products/experiences. There’s little time to sit down and document formally what is done and why. But it does need to be done. If it’s not, then these newbies that come in the door are running blind with nothing to help them get acclimated quickly.
Second, if starting salaries are low, it typically means that entry level jobs are more prone to employee turnover. So maybe you take the time to invest in someone, only to have them jump ship to the next big paycheck.
Also important to note that high level technical people are in demand, which means the faster you get all that knowledge out of their heads and somewhere it can be leveraged by others, the better off you will be.
There is no way to force an employee to write great documentation, but there are ways to make them write bad documentation. There’s also no way to ensure that a new employee won’t learn everything there is know and then leave, but there are ways to encourage them to stay other than a fat paycheck.
If you want your technical people sharing their knowledge, then invest in tools that allow them to quickly and easily do that. Social collaboration software is a great tool that can be leveraged. The days of novel length PDF documentation are over. Now, people get more information from wikis, blog posts, activity streams. They also like knowing that others are actually reading it, and many are encouraged to write more through things like ratings, comments or games.
Likewise, new employees are looking to join organizations where these kinds of tools are used. It shows that the organization is modern, open to ideas from everyone, and willing to foster knowledge sharing through all levels — not just to employees who’ve been there a long time.
It’s Not all About Money
Money is important, but a forward-thinking, modern organization also considers the other things people look for in the perfect job: an easy way to learn, submit ideas and share knowledge. Experienced technical people want to know that their knowledge and ideas are important to everyone, not just the PDF doc that never gets read by anyone (really, they don’t). And the new recruits want to know what they get in exchange for a lower salary. What will they learn other than how to pinch pennies?