Struggling for Top Talent? Upgrade Your Tech Infrastructure to Keep Them

Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower reports that the average Singaporean clocked an average of 45.6 hours a week at work in 2016. That’s a lot of time slugging it out at the office – pushing local employees to become pickier when choosing what would soon become their second home.

The right talent has now become the most important distinction between success and failure in the age of never-ending disruption. Amid tougher financial regulations, rising manpower and operational costs, highly informed and demanding customers, and many other challenges, companies need skilled talent – and lots of them – to help navigate the troubling waters ahead.

Office workers in Singapore spend the equivalent of two months of the working year completing administrative or repetitive tasks like submitting expenses and handling invoices

In Singapore, the hiring dynamic has also been altered by the government’s push for companies to hire local. Organizations end up having to be the ones to sell themselves to the candidate, rather than the other way around.

So, they invest in well-paid HR staff and buy human capital management software systems so their people can get clear insights into goals and career progress. They commission themed designer offices with slides, swings, gyms, breakout rooms, art, haute cuisine canteens, and childcare facilities, or provide the top tech toys around – all to lure and keep top talents happy in their company.

However, they still very often have one thing that saddles their team with a source of frustration, annoyance and roadblocks to success: creaking technology infrastructure.

Cleaning up

When it comes to technology infrastructure, we’re still all too often inflicting decades-old legacy boat anchors on our businesses and on our people. Staff have to deal with sluggish back-office systems that bring otherwise slick processes to a state akin to wading through a cotton field dressed in Velcro.

Expense forms take ages to process, accounting systems are closer to the age of quill and parchment – these are some of the bottlenecks that legacy systems impose on their users.

This is particularly silly when so many of the new hires will have been born in the 1990s and are digital natives. This is the generation accustomed to instant, one-click or swipe responses to their needs in the age of the cloud era. This is the generation that may never have experienced the World Wide Wait, when dial-up modem connections struggled with accessing the web.

If you work in any finance-function role, the issue is exacerbated. Legacy has been so ingrained in a company’s ecosystem that it seems easier to say “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” But relying on legacy infrastructure to deal with digital age issues is akin to starting a fire with sticks, when there’s a lighter available at a nearby convenience store.

Let’s not forget that legacy infrastructure is more likely to fail us now more than ever. In 2012, a trader lost an estimated US$6.2 billion for JP Morgan partially because his Excel risk-evaluation formula had underestimated risk by half. Why do we still shackle ourselves to legacy systems when we’ve can be at the front of the race?

The dirty secret

Today’s business IT is mobile-first, cloud-first but infrastructure remains the dirty secret and organisations rest precariously on the wonky platform of ancient servers, storage boxes and communications fabrics.

The results are not fit for purpose: low utilization, power-hogging hardware, questionable levels of resilience and failover, lots of grunt work for admins and, yes, slow performance that has us all cursing, frustrated and unable to get our work done quickly and efficiently.

When you think about hiring, infrastructure might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But it’s infrastructure that provides the zip, hum and thrum of modern business

No wonder, according to a study by Unit4, office workers in Singapore are the least productive, spending the equivalent of two months of the working year completing administrative or repetitive tasks like submitting expenses or handling invoices.

And no wonder we can’t seem to keep talent in despite the multiple swings or hipster artworks in the office.

When you think about hiring, infrastructure might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But it’s infrastructure that provides the zip, hum and thrum of modern business.

Ignore this fact at your peril and at the risk of impeding the progress of some of the smartest people entering the workplace.

About the Author

Matt Young is SVP and Head of Asia Pacific and Japan at Nutanix, a provider of cloud infrastructure.

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