2015: A year of surprises, or predictable change?
Change, innovation and progression are a given when talking about the Finance, Pharmaceutical, IT and Telecommunications sectors, and 2015 is likely to be no different.
As our 2014 review showed, some of the sectors were dominated by key trends – big data and cyber security in IT for example – or experienced some unforeseen issues – such as the Ebola crisis in the Pharma industry. These changes have had a significant effect on the mix of skills and experience required by companies operating in each sector. For example, the growth in mobile technology has contributed to a rise in demand for people with strong java development skills, and people with regulatory affairs experience are in demand in the Pharma sector.
The IT and telecommunications sectors
These sectors are highly lucrative and extremely competitive. Companies rely heavily on innovation to bring new technologies and products to market first in order to stay on top. The trends that we saw in 2014 are likely to gather pace as we go through 2015, with more and more industries hoping to harness IT as a means of creating a competitive edge.
Here are some of the key trends that we predict will continue to dominate:
The rising importance of mobile apps
Across all of our regions and sectors, our IT teams are unanimous in their view that mobile apps will become increasingly valuable in 2015, and that Finance will be one area that will see a lot of activity.
IBM and Apple have developed mobile and tablet apps targeted at the finance sector, with ten apps set to be released this year that focus on the retail, government and travel sectors. As well as these apps, the two companies have worked together to develop iOS apps for the insurance industry.
Companies from major players such as IBM and Apple, to smaller tech start-ups, realise the value that apps can add to their business, and investment into this area will continue to snowball.
This was also considered by our teams to be a theme that will continue as we go through 2015. 2014 saw some major high profile data breaches, and apps are certainly included in the at-risk category after MoonPig.com’s app was recently shut down following security issues.
The incident highlights the potential security drawbacks of mobile apps and suggests that more needs to be done in order for the technology to be completely successful.
With security so high up the agenda, it’s likely that another big security breach, whether it be a major hack or flawed app development, will hit the headlines this year.
Demand for IT roles will continue to increase
Against this background of security and the rise of mobile technology, the pressure is on firms to deliver market leading, ground breaking IT projects that are virtually risk free. And to do this, they need to continue to invest in people with the right skills. Not surprisingly, testing, quality management, project management and software development are skills that our teams believe will be highly sought after.
Enterprise Strategy Group has echoed this sentiment, with a recent study showing that half of all organisations are planning to add a significant or a small number of new IT positions over the course of 2015.
Some 43 per cent of respondents said their organisation is planning to add new roles in information security, while 34 per cent are hoping to introduce positions in IT architecture/planning.
Emphasis on cultural fit
Our experience has been that clients are now just as interested in finding people with the right skills as they are in finding people who fit seamlessly with the company culture. HR departments are aware of the hidden costs of hiring people who don’t fit in, regardless of their tech skills, as they could prove to be detrimental to the overall productivity of a team.
With more focus on the complete mix of attributes and the blurring of roles within project teams, HR teams are under even more pressure to deliver people with not just the right skills, but the right personal traits.
The nature of projects also calls for IT experts to increase their skill set, as well as adding professional certificates to sit alongside professional experience.
All this does nothing to ease the shortage of technology professionals in the market. We wrote in one of our blogs last year that The European Commission (EC) figures suggest 900,000 IT jobs could be left vacant this year because managers will not be able to find adequate staff.
Will more females enter the IT sector in 2015?
One issue that has affected the IT industry in recent years is a lack of female employees, but some initiatives could be turning the tide in 2015.
We’ve covered the drop in the number of girls studying IT at degree level and only 29 out of every 1,000 female graduates specialise in IT-related subjects in comparison to 95 male university leavers.
Recent figures obtained from Information Age show that women only represent 18 per cent of UK students enrolled in computing courses in the 2014-15 academic year, and similar issues on gender imbalance for students studying STEM subjects affect other European countries.
Google is hoping to improve the appeal of IT through its Made with Code initiative, which aims to encourage females to enter the world of coding. It will spend $50 million on the scheme in a bid to make computer science more attractive to women across the globe.
Predictions for the pharma industry in 2015
The pharma industry underwent important changes in 2014, with good manufacturing processes (GMP), good laboratory processes (GLP) and good clinical systems (GCP) all consistent themes. Tighter regulation, mergers and acquisitions and investment into R&D were also key trends, which are likely to continue as we go through 2015.
Our pharmaceutical teams believe validation and higher levels of regulation could continue throughout the next 12 months and for years to come. An increased output for biopharmaceutical products is also predicted, while medical devices research and development is expected to grow, alongside a continuing focus on compliance in order to dispense with issues before they create problems.
Our experts have analysed the industry as stable and growing, with investment available in research and development and emerging markets continuing to have a big impact on the global industry.
When it comes to the skills needed to land jobs, we predict candidates with biotechnology and pharmaceutical backgrounds in engineering and regulatory affairs will be in high demand throughout the market.
Tackling counterfeit drugs
The problem of illegal drugs coming to market is unfortunately becoming a bigger issue which threatens the industry and the patients it serves, presenting a significant challenge to companies across the pharma sector.
Businesses have recognised the threat and Allied Market Research believes the anti-counterfeit packaging market is set to reach a market value of $142.7 billion (£94.54 billion) by 2020 from $57.4 billion in 2013.
Allied Market Research believes some of the key methods for tackling counterfeit drugs include nanotechnology, supply chain vulnerability and a lack of API regulations. It is likely therefore that there will be significant investment into these areas as we go through 2015.
The finance sector
Managing risk and deploying big data
The finance sector is always impacted by developments in technology and 2014 was no different, with risk management coming to the fore as the major item on the agenda.
In 2015, we expect companies to focus on the continuing raft of European regulatory requirements, with risk, cloud computing and big data also high up on the list.
As more and more companies turn to the cloud to store vital documents, it will be necessary to spend more time on data management and protecting it from cyber threats.
These trends will be reflected in skills sought by financial services companies. Knowledge of the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) will be vital for Finance professionals, along with experience of handling big data, particularly reporting, and carrying out risk management processes.
Research from Accenture found that more than four out of five users perceive big data as changing the way they carry out business, while 84 per cent believe their company’s digital strategy will influence the adoption of big data.
What will 2015 bring?
In terms of financial industry’s economic outlook, it is still relatively uncertain. Already in 2015, the collapse in oil prices, the weak rouble and the ‘unpegging’ of the Swiss Franc form the Euro are affecting confidence in some countries. And, the ever changing regulatory environment continues to put more pressure on banks throughout the region.
As so many factors come into play within the Finance industry, predictions in this sector are extremely difficult! Suffice to say, there are bound to be some surprises in store as we progress through 2015.
2015 is lining up to be another interesting year for European companies operating in IT, Pharma, Finance and Telecommunications. The fate of many of these industries is intertwined, and not all countries are experiencing the same issues or trends.
However, we have attempted to put forward some of the main factors that we think will influence senior decision makers in the industry in the coming months.
Some themes from 2014 are likely to gather pace this year and increase their influence on company strategy, investment decisions and hiring trends. And new, as yet unknown, factors will be added to the mix as we go through the year. Global economic performance, the political environment, unforeseen events, new product innovation, the actions of influential market leaders and the availability people with key skills will all shape the year to come.