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New tech can attract top talent

Upgrading technology infrastructure is key to attracting the best hires

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) reported that the average Singaporean clocked 45.6 hours of work a week in 2016.

That is 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.

More than 65 per cent of employers, according to a 2016 Global Talent Management and Rewards Survey by Willis Towers Watson, are struggling to attract the best talent for their firm.

In the knowledge economy, talent might well be the most important distinction between success and failure.

Talent is the foundation of producing quality products, providing great service, business development, and fuelling sales and marketing excellence.

The hiring dynamic has been altered after the Singapore government's push for companies to hire local.

Companies 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 HCM (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 talent happy in their company.

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

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

When it comes to technology infrastructure, we are 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 owners.

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 the Web.

If you work in a technology-centric or Internet company, the issue is exacerbated.

Developers want to get their hands on the latest tools, software and hardware.

Give them an old-school set-up and if they are not running away from you, they are wasting seconds and minutes running cutting-edge projects on decades-old legacy systems.

NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE

Not every company has the financial luxury of chasing tech trends, but offer young people the chance to work in a software-driven, low-code development environment alongside other new tech, and you can get superb minds to work - faster than ever.

Today's business IT is mobile-first and 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 utilisation, power-hogging hardware, questionable levels of resilience and failover, lots of grunt work for administration and, yes, slow performance that has us all cursing, frustrated and unable to get our work done quickly and efficiently.

No wonder, according to a study by Unit4, that 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 cannot seem to keep talent in despite the multiple swings or hipster artwork in the office.

When you think about hiring, infrastructure might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but it is infrastructure that provides the zip, hum and thrum of modern business. Ignore this fact at your peril and at the risk of appearing old-fashioned and unattractive to the smartest people entering the workplace.

The writer is senior vice-president and head of Asia Pacific and Japan at Nutanix. This article appeared in The Business Times last Thursday.

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