Portland Tech Community is Optimistic, Focused on Innovation and Growth Despite the Pandemic, ProFocus Technology Trends Report Shows

by | ProFocus News

More than two-thirds will see same or increased budget for 2021; 42% plan to hire next year

Portland, Ore. − December 1, 2020 – Despite economic uncertainty, Portland’s Silicon Forest is lifting the local economy and remains insulated from the worst of the pandemic-driven downturn. Budgets are increasing, companies are hiring, and salaries are rising. These findings and other key sentiments from ProFocus Technology’sPortland Tech in Focus: 2021 Trends Report” point to near-term economic recovery and upbeat forecasts for technology development and teams throughout the Portland area.

According to the survey of more than 260 local technology professionals, more than a third of respondents say their 2021 budget will increase (36%) and another third say it will stay the same (33%), compared to just 20% who expect a decrease. Companies are hiring, too, with 42% expecting an increase in full-time employees and 27% anticipating more contractors next year. Portland’s technology community is positioned for growth and opportunity, with 68% reporting they can personally innovate in their jobs and 62% saying their firms are effectively using technology to disrupt their industry. 

Plans and direction for next year are taking shape, with Portland’s number one technology priority for 2021 being to improve the customer experience (62%). This takes the top spot among all levels of respondents: c-suite, managers, and individual contributors. Driving revenue growth ranks second at 53%, and increasing efficiencies and streamlining processes lands in third place at 50%. 

At the same time we are seeing growth, technology teams report significant challenges resulting from their new working environments. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of tech teams at enterprise firms and 45% of teams in smaller firms feel overworked. More than half (54%) of all survey respondents say budget uncertainty is impacting their effectiveness, and nearly half (49%) believe that remotely managing, training, and developing employees will be one of their biggest challenges in 2021.  

Survey reveals a disconnect between executives and employees
The survey findings sound a cautionary alarm to executive teams heading into 2021, revealing a disconnect among levels of the organization in terms of alignment. Only 14% of managers and 27% of producers feel strongly they are aligned on top priorities with leadership, compared to 52% of c-suite executives who feel the same way. While many feel overworked, only 11% of the c-suite feels strongly their teams are overworked, compared to 24% of managers and 26% of contributors. Increased communication and collaboration at all levels of the organization will be needed heading into next year to close these gaps and improve alignment company-wide.  

“Portland, like most other communities, has faced many challenges this year. Despite these struggles, our 2021 Trends Report gives the local tech community much to celebrate − particularly when it comes to job growth and security, innovation, culture, and inclusion,” said John Boone, ProFocus Technology Founder and President. “This report paints a clear picture of a strong technology sector, with tons of innovation and positive company cultures. At the same time, tech leaders should also take note of the organizational disconnects that the report presents and increase their efforts to collaborate and better align with their teams. We are in a time of rapid change, and Portland’s technology community is stepping up to help shape this change for the better.” 

Employers need to prepare for the likelihood of a fully remote employee base 
Eighty-five percent (85%) believe their company is adapting well to remote work. A full 75% of executives say their firm will be mostly remote after the pandemic, compared to 52% of managers and 48% of individual contributors. Nearly a third of executives (31%) suggest their company will convert physical workplaces to community space for team building and collaboration. Not surprisingly, the move to remote work has unintended consequences. One third (33%) of respondents indicate they would keep their jobs but work outside of Portland if their firm goes permanently remote. 

Other key findings from the 2021 Trends Report include:

  • Portland tech firms are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, despite the challenges. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) continue to be in the spotlight, and almost three-quarters of respondents (74%) say their companies are committing to DEI principles. This number is even higher for enterprise firms, at 85%. 
  • Tech talent is needed now. Overall, 45% of employees agree that a tech skills shortage is keeping their teams from meeting key goals. Portland is building a reputation as a vibrant hub for start-ups and small companies, driving headcount growth in the area. More than twice as many small firms say they will increase hires for internal staff than enterprise firms, 51% vs. 23%. 
  • Compensation edges higher. Sixty-three percent (63%) agree that their teams face upward wage pressure for talent. Employers stay locked in on securing high quality tech talent—and they’re willing to pay to get it. More smaller firms anticipate wage increases in 2021 (48%), followed by 45% of large firms and 43% of mid-size firms. Only 28% of enterprise firms say wages will increase.
  • Building a positive remote workplace environment is a demanding priority. Portland tech firms have been working hard to maintain a positive workplace environment. While a strong majority of firms (75%) say they are effective in this regard, the same number agrees that team building and maintaining a strong culture will be one of their biggest challenges in 2021.
  • Portland’s status as an innovation hotbed for start-ups and smaller firms buoys pandemic recovery. The survey underscores the area’s growing recognition as a center for start-ups and small companies. Portland’s smaller firms are placing a higher priority on developing new products and services than their larger counterparts: 48% rank that as a top tech driver, compared to 31% of enterprise firms. Their agile methodology and cloud maturity are also on par with enterprise firms, although they lag behind in CI/CD, AI/machine learning, microservices, infrastructure automation, and cybersecurity. 

About the survey
ProFocus Technology’s “Portland Tech in Focus: 2021 Trends Report” is based on 267 responses via an online survey of Portland technology professionals, including executives, managers, directors, and individual contributors in companies from small enterprises with less than 100 employees to large enterprises with greater than 5,000 employees. The survey was conducted from September 16 to October 9, 2020. Click here for the full survey report. 

About ProFocus Technology
Built on decades of experience in both the staffing and technology industries, ProFocus Technology is a technology staffing and consulting company that has a deep team of technology professionals who customize business applications, develop software, manage data, and engineer technology products. With a fill ratio nearly double the industry average, ProFocus carefully places talent for technology and non-technology companies ranging from small businesses to large enterprise organizations. 

ProFocus Technology has landed on Inc.’s 500 Fastest Growing Companies list and for the last four years has secured a spot on the Portland Business Journal’s 100 Fastest Growing Companies. The company has repeatedly earned ClearlyRated’s Best of Staffing award for both Client and Talent satisfaction. ProFocus is a community partner, making connections to fuel Portlands’ local economy and support local businesses. 

Ann Warren
[email protected]

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ProFocus is an IT staffing and consulting company. We strive to connect a select few of the right technology professionals to the right jobs.

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