Tech talent: Recruits want more than money

Our weekly roundup of interesting stories online including game-changers for AI, deep learning and big data in small business — and how Apple is trying to get its mojo back.

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When it comes to attracting tech talent, salary isn’t all that matters, according to a working paper by Prasanna Tambe and Xuan Ye of New York University and Peter Cappelli of Wharton. The better the technology at your company, the better your chances of bringing technical employees on board — thanks to greater learning opportunities. The authors conclude that technical workers aren’t just attracted to companies with new technology; they value the opportunity to build their skills.

It should come as no surprise that technical employees value more about their jobs than salary — we all do, says Walter Frick in an article on Harvard Business Review. He says the working paper offers two reminders: “First, attracting technical employees is harder if your tech stack is out of date and a company’s case for technology investment should reflect that. Second, and relevant not just for tech workers, employees value learning — to the point where in the aggregate they even seem willing to give up a modest amount of salary for it.”

Google leaps forward in AI win

It was a big week for artificial intelligence watchers. Google beat Microsoft and Facebook in hitting a milestone for the technology by creating a system that can beat champion human players at the Chinese game Go. This is a particularly challenging AI problem because of the massive number of possible moves in the game. The computerized Go champion, called AlphaGo, is based on a technology called DeepMind that Google acquired in June for US$400 million (DeepMind is a deep learning technology geared for artificial intelligence problems). Microsoft also open sourced its own deep learning technology, called the Computational Network Toolkit, this week.

Apple loses its mojo

Apple’s iPhone used to be the darling of the tech industry, but sales growth was the slowest ever as the Chinese market weakened. Sales of iPhone grew just 0.4 per cent, and are likely to fall this quarter compared with the same quarter last year, said Apple CEO Tim Cook. Analysts fretted that there simply isn’t an exciting product to replace the iPhone. Apple is reportedly working on a car, but its status is uncertain, and in any case this represents an entirely different product category, for a different market. Still, profits were the highest ever for a single quarter at US$18.4 billion.

Best of expertIP

Traditionally, big data has been a game-changer for larger firms, but according to a blog post on expertIP this week, even smaller companies can use it to find valuable insights. Patricia McInnis spoke to Deloitte about how the consulting firm helped a midsized grocery store refine its marketing expenditure, demonstrating how sales promotions were cannibalizing each other and missing out on a $4-$6 million revenue opportunity.

Smaller companies are finding it easier to mine large data sets for new opportunities these days. The data is becoming more readily available, and the analytics tools necessary to explore it are becoming more accessible. Businesses can use their own computing resources to find patterns in their data that can expose new opportunities, but they can also take advantage of cloud-based analytics services.

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

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