This last year has seen a number of significant developments in the IT, telecommunications, finance and pharma industries.
Over the course of the year, we have identified and discussed some of the top trends affecting our sectors on our blog. Here, we take a look at some of the main events that shaped our business - and our clients’ - in 2014.
We asked experts across our business to share their insights on some of the major news affecting their sector from the last year.
IT and telecommunications developments in 2014
As industries that rely heavily on innovation, there was no let up in the pace of development in the IT and Telecommunications sectors in 2014. Trends dominating these sectors included big data, mobile technologies, cyber security and the Internet of Things.
While the increasing importance of mobile devices and other hardware has helped to create new roles across the industry, broadband technology has improved radically as countries aim to equip their homes and businesses with the best services available.
Improvements in Wi-Fi technology mean more and more devices can now easily connect online, allowing improved sharing capabilities and better resources for companies and homeowners. These innovations have helped businesses to grow more quickly and work more efficiently. Rather than needing to be in the office for discussions, staff can now participate in team meetings remotely, which can increase productivity significantly.
Increased awareness of data security
One of the most newsworthy topics of 2014 was data security. After the media giant Sony suffered a data leak, a number of sensitive email conversations were made available online, along with films including Fury and Annie. This development not only caused uncertainty within Sony; it also damaged the brand’s reputation and sent shockwaves through the industry, alerting companies to the dangers of cyber crime in 2014.
However, the threat of data breaches was present long before Sony’s unfortunate incident, with many companies spending large sums of money to improve their risk management processes. In all of our operating regions, data security has been identified as a high priority for businesses.
Many of our consultants also cited the significance of the National Security Agency (NSA) scandal. This saw whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal that American companies had been compromised by the NSA’s intelligence-gathering work in raising security high up on the agenda.
The incident came as a wake-up call for many businesses, acting as a warning of how online information can be accessed by external parties with relative ease.
Java and technical project managers lead job growth
2014 has also seen hiring trends in some areas rise dramatically as companies demand workers with specialised technical skills. Technical Project Managers, Solution Architects/Designers and Deployment Managers are among the skills that were most in demand throughout 2014.
Our teams have consistently cited java development as one of the top skills required by clients for projects implemented in 2014. The technology has become increasingly important for businesses, with a Computer Weekly survey finding that Java is the second most sought-after skill in the IT profession.
2014 in the pharmaceutical sector
Much like the IT and telecommunications industries, the pharma and financial sectors have experienced widespread change over the course of 2014.
One of the biggest stories of the year was the Ebola outbreak, which caused thousands of deaths in countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria. The disease sparked a surge in research and development in the global pharmaceutical industry as experts battled to find a cure for the disease.
The World Health Organization (WHO) ordered an acceleration of the normal drug development process in a bid for treatments to be evaluated and used quickly.
Although a cure still has not been found for Ebola, the outbreak has challenged the industry and prompted many companies to implement faster processes and take new approaches to quickly contain diseases.
Product launches become more frequent
In 2014 pharma product launches may have been smaller than usual, but at the same time, they have been more frequent than in recent years. A statement backed up by findings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) showed that 150 new drugs were approved last year, marking a significant increase from an average 85 a year between 2005 and 2010.
Within the context of an increasingly complex regulatory landscape, companies put more and more emphasis on compliance when hiring throughout 2014, particularly within the medical devices arena. As this is set to continue, Validation Engineers, Quality Managers and Research and Development roles coupled with compliance experience are likely to stay in high demand into 2015.
Mergers and Acquisitions
2014 was also a big year for M&A activity within the pharma sector, although not all potential deals were successful. One of the biggest was the deal between GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis, who brokered a joint venture, and there were other deals too as businesses looked to consolidate and focus on their most profitable activities.
The Finance sector
Against a backdrop of economic and financial uncertainty since the events of 2008, the Finance sector is now experiencing frequent change as the EU implements a raft of regulatory changes.
Cost savings have dropped down the priority list for many of our clients, as instead they implement new projects that are required in order to comply with these new regulations.
Continued economic uncertainty has contributed in a rise in the importance of risk management, data quality and investor protection, with risk management in particular becoming a highly sought after skill set.
Risk management changes again in 2014.
Risk management is one field of great importance to the financial sector and responsibility for it seemingly shifted in 2014.
The Institute of Risk Management UK has commented on changes in the risk industry, with Carolyn Williams, technical director of the group, noting that the process is becoming more of a focus for the boardroom and behavioural science instead of a tick box process that is carried out further down an organisation’s hierarchy.
Ms Williams said: “Enterprise risk management approaches have done a lot to focus attention on the broad range of threats to corporate objectives and the need for risk management to be embedded consistently across the organisation's processes, breaking down the old silos.”
What can we expect in 2015?
2015 is shaping up to be another year of great change in the financial, pharmaceutical, IT and telecommunications markets.
With improved broadband connections, the Ebola outbreak and data security issues dominating 2014, it will be interesting to see which topics come to the forefront of our sectors in 2015.
These industries have learnt a lot from the challenges of 2014. Companies across the globe have been busy tightening data security, with research from Cisco showing that half of workers realise cyber security is the number one threat to their company.
In the pharma sector, emerging markets in Brazil and China have changed the landscape significantly and could soon challenge the European Union when it comes to the research and development of new treatments.
And in the telecommunications industry, the increasing saturation of fibre optic broadband and improved mobile broadband capabilities has had a big impact on the sector.
Whilst many of these trends will continue to dominate, we are certain that there will be more surprises, unforeseen events and new challenges for businesses to navigate in 2015.