The tech industry is all aflutter about the rumored decline in their market. The fallout from this trend is that the layoffs within the industry have been largely targeted against the more senior techies; most of whom are all of 40 years old. The interesting aspect of the EEOC laws is that age discrimination is defined as between the ages of 40 and 62. So it is unlawful to deny a job to someone who is 40 years of age, or 61 years of age due solely to their relative advanced age. I’m sure it’s not a rational leap of legalese, but the implication is that it may be lawful to deny someone a job because they are 39 years old or 63 years old.
The fact that the tech industry appears to be going through a correction is a little comforting in a way. Is it possible we have finally arrived at a point where we have enough ‘tech’ in our lives; such that more doesn’t appreciably add to our lives? Do we really need a cell phone that is thinner, has a better camera, more apps or is 5G? Does a new operating system on our desktops or laptops really improve efficiency or does it simply drag down efficiency while we try to learn a new way to create a simple Word document?
Tech has always been about ‘more’… more features or twists that at some point become just more cumbersome. Tech has operated in a world that is viewed as feature-rich with very little input from the user community. In essence, it’s never been about satisfying the customer. Adding features that detract from the core competency of the device isn’t necessarily ‘better’; it’s simply just ‘more’. I always felt that writing code carried a certain aura of elegance that reduced complexity. Machines run faster on less code, not more code. Redundancy is inefficient and increases the probability of errors. To write a program in the fewest lines is akin to Picasso’s attempt to capture a portrait in as few sketched lines as possible. Simple is captivating.
The size of a typical desktop hard drive is beyond the scope of logic. The power consumption of computers has risen to a point where the largest power density of any commercial construction project is a data center. Typical data center power requirements exceed hundreds of watts/sq ft. Data centers are typically backed up by other data centers; with similar power requirements. Now, if we’re talking about backing up CIA, FBI or Blue Cross security records; then they should be stored in redundant locales; with ample security controls. But the biggest data centers are storing Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Pinterest, and similar sites’ ‘data’. That data contains very sensitive information like: whats up? Eatin’ lunch. LOL. Kittens gone wild videos. The entirety of that rich dialog is backed up in server warehouses that are backed up again and again.
I have a relative whose sole goal in life is simply expressed as… ‘more’. And she’s the poster child for miserable. ‘More’ is unattainable.
So Tech is correcting. We will soon have a small glut of techies who are 40-something years old and looking for an opportunity to do something else. Or to do more. It would be a great move for them to get into an applied career; like the electrical industry. Our industry is grounded in reality; where construction and maintenance are the driving forces for product innovation and reliability. Techies view the world in product cycles that are measured in months. Imagine the experience they could gain working for a utility company; where product reliability is measured in decades? And our industry is drawn to young; which is usually defined as 40-something.
As electronics continue to change the landscape of the electrical industry; the demand for talent with skills in electronics design and software control will continue to grow. The fit for both sides would be transformative to both parties. The challenge for the electrical industry is figuring out how to attract new talent with skills that are almost impossible to conform into a job description and recruitment techniques that are foreign to both sides. Tech workers are virally tracked by competitive companies within that industry. Recruiters for tech companies go to bars and restaurants to mingle with techies from competitors. They attract them with exciting websites and informal Twitter or Facebook approaches that are designed to build innocent, friendly relationships. The electrical industry posts mundane job listings on industry-neutral sites like Monster or Craigslist and wait for ‘applicants’. And most companies don’t even reply to a majority of those applicants.
There is a unique opportunity for the industry to add some fresh insights into their technical departments; with the caveat that a pure tech expert will require a fair amount of reprogramming to grasp the channel aspects of designing products for customers who install and repair and maintain products with lifespans measured in years. And adapt to a company that has normal business hours and business casual dress and a cafeteria that doesn’t have lattes and video games.
The overall benefit of this will be additive to both sides. Or more succinctly; more.