A few weeks ago, we announced that several ventures I have been involved in over the last eight years were coming together to form Techstrong Group. It makes sense: We believe that several macro factors have fundamentally changed the media landscape, especially for those who serve the IT and technology markets.
There is a unique and tremendous opportunity ahead, but only for those that embrace change in the way people consume content and their reasons for doing so.
The brands and businesses that formed Techstrong Group span online media sites DevOps.com, Security Boulevard and Container Journal; associations and certification providers DevOps Institute and the Humans of DevOps Association; research and analyst firms Accelerated Strategies Group and Hurwitz & Associates; and events producer Prospera Events. Together, #wearetechstrong.
Our audience is very specific; they are the “geeks,” “nerds,” coders, cyber warriors and IT workers who have arisen to be the new upper class. This group seems immune to economic cycles and on the whole is much more inclusive and diverse. It is also a global audience that in many ways knows no borders. While there are many tech workers in North America, the Indian subcontinent is also a huge source of tech talent. Eastern and Western Europe both have strong tech economies, as do Israel, UAE, Singapore, Australia and many other areas of the world.
What are the macro factors driving this development and why do I think the decade ahead is one of immense opportunity, especially in our market? Let me address them:
- Digital transformation – The shift to digital has increasingly become the measuring stick for success and failure in today’s economy. Whether it’s supply chain capacity, distribution channels or marketing to your customers, if you can’t do it digitally, you are left out of much of today’s interactions.
- The rise of digital natives – Boomers are fading as the preferred demographic for many businesses. Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z are today’s power users. They are increasingly digital natives who rarely read a paper newspaper or magazine. They consume TV on-demand and are not tethered to media networks—they like to find their own sources for information, entertainment and education. In general, they don’t like to read multi-page, in-depth reports; the death of the “white paper” is real in the tech world. Digital natives want more graphical content and rich media, with audio and video. They want summaries and will decide when they want to “go deep.”
- The balkanization of information sources – These digital natives have a seemingly infinite and dynamic selection of sources for news, opinion and education. Trusted sources and brands are transient, it seems. These digital natives are much more open to “hopping” to where they feel they are getting what they need in the way they want to consume it. Their loyalty toward information sources is similar to their loyalty to their employers; in the tech world, the average tenure for an employee is less than 18 months. To these digital natives, a media organization is only as good as its last video, article, podcast or event.
- Do anything, from anywhere – With the onset of COVID-19 and the rush to work from home, we learned that many, if not most, business can be accomplished without being in the office. This ushered in the “work from anywhere” movement, which has since expanded to “do anything from anywhere.” People can shop, learn, network and stay connected from wherever they are, tethered via powerful computing devices and ubiquitous connectivity. And, the advent of 5G will enable a more robust, richer information experience from anywhere on any device.
- Upskilling and the tech talent shortage – If software coders were a nation, it would be the fastest growing nation in the world. There is similar growth in cloud engineering, DevOps, cybersecurity, SRE, QA testing and other areas. Today more than ever and for the foreseeable future, people with tech skills are the “masters of the universe.” Throughout the pandemic, tech professionals continued to work, almost setting their own compensation levels and demanding more than just money but also favorable conditions and cultural fits. They remain in such high demand that no sooner do they settle into a new job than they are being recruited for their next position. People must acquire the right skills to become a part of this desirable tech pool. Once they have the skills, they must maintain their edge with the latest technologies, code languages and best practices. They are very cognizant of “upskilling.” In the past, this entailed taking in-person and then online courses to become certified. Increasingly today, in addition to the traditional certification course, many skilled tech workers prefer “learn at their own pace” alternatives such as LinkedIn Learning or other online sources. Many of these courses don’t offer certification, but their emphasis is on acquiring skills, not receiving diplomas.
Against this backdrop, what does the future for a media content company look like, especially one serving the tech industry?
- Today’s media company must be able to deliver content in an omnichannel manner. The written word is not as dominant as it was (Gutenberg might be rolling in his grave). Tech media companies must deliver content in the format their audience wants, which means more audio and much more video. More graphical content; fewer words, more pictures and graphics.
- Upskilling and education opportunities should be provided in the formats that the audience wants—a mix of certification courses and shorter, easily digestible training modules to help people stay on top of their game and further their career. Simultaneously, these opportunities for upskilling can help potential sponsors find the right people for these hard-to-fill roles.
- Tech media companies also must provide research and analysis on the challenges facing the IT industry with trusted and respected methods and sources. Opinions are important, but they need to be backed by verifiable research and expert analysis.
- Content from anywhere should match the audience’s “Do anything from anywhere” lives. Whether it is an in-person event (post-COVID, people are craving in-person experiences again), an online virtual event, or either synchronous or asynchronous communication, media companies must go to and deliver where their audience wants to consume content.
We believe in forming the Techstrong Group to have the greatest breadth of offerings and brands to deliver on this vision in the markets we serve. If we are successful in delivering on this vision, the rest of this decade will present us with an immense opportunity to scale and become the premier provider of information and content those in the tech industry require.
Co-Founder and CEO, TechStrong Group
About: Alan Shimel is co-founder and CEO of TechStrong Group, an omniversal media company covering IT industries and practices that are reshaping the world of technology. Specifically, DevOps, cloud-native, cybersecurity and digital transformation are the communities we live in. Alan has been instrumental in the success of several organizations. Shimel is an often-cited personality in the security and technology community and is a sought-after speaker at industry and government conferences and events.