IT / BPO Industry 2017-2018: “New Hope”

IT / BPO Industry 2017-2018: “New Hope”

What happened in the labor market in some of the fastest growing sectors in Bulgaria, commented Angel Madjarov – Operations Manager of Talent Hunter

Angel Madjarov is Operations Manager of Talent Hunter, a consulting company specializing in identifying and attracting experts and managers for the IT and telecom industry.

The trend for search of IT specialists remained strong and, despite the modest numbers demanded by companies at the beginning of the year, the demand was at a high pace throughout the entire 2017 and the real market positions were the same and even slightly more compared to the previous year.

In 2017, programmer’s salaries continued to rise, but the trend slowed a lot, compared to 2016, especially for the maximum in the payments- there was less than 5% increase. More growth had in the average pay for certain roles – the most sought programmers with skills in Java, Javascript and .NET technologies, where most of the market positions were. A smaller increase is seen in PHP and C ++ specialists where the demand remains, but positions are lower compared to previous years. There is also a rise in system, network, and database administrators. With them, on the one hand, the increasingly influential concept of DevOps and, on the other, the new directive and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) requirements, will lead to segmentation as a demand and wages.

Flexibility vs. dimensions
In the attraction of IT specialists in the software industry, mainly small and medium-sized companies were active. We saw a lot of switching from large corporate IT players to medium (up to 150 people) and small businesses. The corporate IT companies, which were also actively looking for professionals during the year, have become more attractive to younger, career-starting, specialist or professionals looking for quietness (with more than 11 years of experience). According to our observations, middle-class specialists, with more than 4-5 years of programming experience, preferred smaller and medium-sized companies, during the year, because of the innovation and R & D nature of the work itself, the flexibility of the companies and the offering of better conditions. This as a trend in the Bulgarian IT industry is quite similar to the trends in the Western European countries and the US, which is indicative of the maturity of our industry.

Follow-up the fashion trends – IT specialists are definitely attracted by the modern trends in the world of technologies such as AI, Machine Learning, Internet of Things, applicable in quite a variety of business areas, leading to the automation of business processes and activities. Also Big Data and Information Management – processing and retrieving any information such as everything about our tastes and interests. We see a whole boom of e-commerce, e-payments, cryptocurrencies that everyone talks about today even on the streets. The penetration of IT technologies in our lifestyle continues to have a growing trend.

The positive about the industry in 2017 is that Bulgaria has opened up and continues to open more and more meaningful projects related to innovations in which we are definitely superior to the traditional IT outsourcing destinations such as – India, China, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, etc. In Bulgaria, the level of work and nature of complexity of tasks is certainly much more R & D-oriented than in many other countries, and is practically very close and almost aligned with Western Europe and the United States. That is why the trend in immigrant programmers is becoming smaller, in Bulgaria; our specialists have a higher standard of living and better purchasing power than in Germany and Austria, for example.

Technological advancement is valid for everyone – automation, AI and other IT advancements will certainly change the world, but will also change the IT industry. API REST platforms, virtual assistants, and other facilitations will enter the digital world and make communication between people and machines easier and more accessible. Certainly, the professions of developers and system administrators will change over the next few years. Those who do not adapt rapidly to changes will remain out of the market.

New hope for the Bulgarian IT industry – in recent years, we have been talking a lot about the lack of IT specialists and its impact on the market, wages, etc., but at the same time we pay very little attention to the actions that the industry and the companies in it can take.

The shortage of qualified IT staff is a global problem, particularly acute in Europe. Against this background, in my opinion, there is a great opportunity for the Bulgarian IT industry.

In recent years, the accumulation of expertise in R & D and production of basic software products for the global markets has developed a lot of software industry and has gained experience in manufacturing high value added IT products.

In Bulgaria, we are accustomed to deal by ourselves, confined within ourselves, with the resources we have within our country’s borders, as if we are culturally lacking the “colonial” aspirations of the Western world, which is the basis of its business welfare. If the companies in the IT industry try to think less conservatively and start thinking openly about variants and approach “colonially” (in the good sense of the word) outside, the Bulgarian IT industry may go beyond the boundaries of the territory to the east to the countries with a less developed IT industry and, above all, markets with less saturation and variety of businesses and IT endeavors such as Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and the other parts of Asia (Vietnam, the Philippines, etc.). There can be established regional units as an integral part of the Bulgarian teams. Due to the maturity of our IT industry, we have a good number of specialists who can be mentors and managers in these departments and quickly develop international operations while controlling and guaranteeing product quality. These international and cross-functional teams are the future of the industry to prevent premature growth. And our experienced IT specialists will have the opportunity to develop careers in new directions and international scale.

The import of highly qualified people must also continue, but it cannot give the industry the necessity of people due to slowing down, administrative obstacles of the Bulgarian legislation and the difficult extraction of people from their natural environment in the countries where they live. Our observations from the people in the Russian speaking countries are that their mobility is low, even lower than that of the Bulgarian specialists, but almost all would accept to work for a new employer on a local basis. Of course, the investment risks and additional costs of budgets for companies remain, but without any risk, business development is difficult anyway.

Good Management will continue to be a major theme for industry development and growth – IT professionals want more flexibility, they are more and more compelling about the work, conditions and the environment. The answer is adequate management and competition. Management, which creates interesting work and projects and controls the quality and performance of work tasks and the competition of more and more international specialists, becoming an integral part of the Bulgarian industry.

BPO / Shared Services Centers
Inextricably related activities with software production and various applications for facilitating and optimizing activities, are those of maintaining systems and servicing their users as well as outsourcing business activities. The trend of expansion of the teams in these centers, as well as the opening of new ones, was also a trend in 2017. In the year, we observed a distinction between the messages that the different centers sent to the market in terms of their core business and positioning them in different meta categories such as Call Centers, BPOs, Shared Service Centers, Outsourcing, and etc. This to a certain extent determined the interest of the candidates to certain categories, which were more modern categories, as a sensation.

An interesting tendency was the attraction of people from Europe, such as France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and the UK, in the BPO sector. This was mainly due to the good market and sector conditions. We also saw many interesting initiatives related to direct co-operation between educational institutions and companies as well as initiatives to build skills and competencies on the part of companies to achieve a satisfactory entry level for new entrants. Certainly, there was also a freeze of the selection in some of the BPO companies, as well as the closure of certain departments as a result of the suspension of commitments to their clients. However, the trend of active recruitment for the BPO industry continued and the challenges of hiring new people were great. There were also various initiatives aimed at attracting more people to the selection process by extending internal reference programs and an increasingly active approach to candidates. We expect this trend to continue in 2018.


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