Can you believe that Windows 95 was more than 20 years ago? In the ’90s, the tech industry seemed new, with rising stars who would quickly become billionaires, like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. The industry evolved rapidly and became a major force in American business and innovation.
Since then, the tech industry has only grown and developed its own identity. Here are the biggest ways the industry has changed — and will continue to change:
1. From nerd to cool
Back in the ’90s, the tech industry was all about the skinny loser with big glasses and no social skills. If you were someone who had an advanced understanding of computer programming, you were probably an outcast.
But that’s all changed. Maybe it’s because of the ubiquity of technology with everyone having a smart phone and a laptop. Maybe it’s because those “nerds” got rich quick. Whatever the reason, tech is now cool. They have the kind of workplace everyone is envious of, with beer gardens and nap pods. Tech is now the industry that everyone wants to go into.
2. It’s not just about Silicon Valley
While many of the big names in tech are still on the left coast, other parts of the country are making moves to attract industry leaders and start-ups. New York City is becoming a major player, with Facebook moving offices to Manhattan and Cornell University opening a tech facility on Roosevelt Island. Always-hip Brooklyn has its fair share of tech leaders too, like Etsy and Paperspace.
Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are becoming major players with grant programs to attract entrepreneurs and investors, according to Investopedia. And Boston is in the game too, with Mayor Marty Walsh saying that he wants the city to become the tech capital of the world, Mashable reported.
3. More roles for women
It’s taken a long time, but the tech industry is finally making an effort to hire more women. Consider this: 80% of new tech companies are started by men and a whopping 95% of tech investors are men, according to Social-Hire. Google revealed last year that only 17% of its employees are women, PBS reported.
However, major players in the industry, like Google, Netflix, and Facebook, are changing their maternity leave policies. A group of major companies are hiring women at a rate 238% higher than men. They’re also addressing deeper issues like discrimination. For example, Dell has started an initiative called Men Advocating Real Change that seeks to address unconscious biases, according to Cosmopolitan.
4. Impact on the world of work
Not only has the tech world changed, but it’s changed the world around it. Just like those in the tech industry, Americans are working long hours. In fact, they work more than anyone in the world, according to ABC.
The way the tech industry organizes work — think open offices and non-hierarchical staffing — are gaining popularity. The tech industry worker’s willingness to switch companies for a better job is increasingly popular among workers too. Employers across the board are also looking more for risk-takers and innovators than in the past. (Of course, there’s no way to determine if this is just correlation instead of causation.)
The industry will no doubt continue to change — that’s what it’s been all about since its beginnings. Leaders need to be aware of these trends and ready to respond to them.