Steadying a rocky ship

GUEST BLOG: In this contributed blog post, Louise Read, founder of SaaS MRKTING, talks about the more positive side of current tech industry layoffs. 

May you be cursed with interesting times. So goes the old Chinese proverb (and a Terry Pratchett quote for more recent literary fans). You might want to substitute interesting with ‘challenging’ or ‘rollercoaster’, but however you term them, these are not necessarily the ideal economic conditions one might wish for.

There’s certainly an element of whiplash. A mere 18-to-24 months ago, the tech sector was being lauded as the saviour of modern society. Technologies that were perhaps viewed as frivolous before – who really needs one-hour delivery anyway? – suddenly took centre stage as the world was confined to quarters. Video conferencing kept many businesses afloat and the endless adaptability of e-commerce meant goods and services kept flowing, even in the toughest of conditions.

Fast-forward to 2023 and suddenly we are witnessing significant layoffs among those very services we lauded for their adaptability and convenience. It’s not just ambitious start-ups who might have overstretched themselves in a boom-bust economy, digital stalwarts like Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet are all making significant job cuts. One report suggests that 63% of tech employees in the UK are pre-emptively looking for new jobs – jumping before they’re pushed.

But this isn’t necessarily the doom and gloom scenario it first appears. Instead of the death knell for an over-hyped tech sector, it could be viewed more as a recalibration. And the good news is that there is as much opportunity in the market as there are challenges.

You only need to look at the projected growth of the Software as a Service (SaaS) market to see how the shape of business is changing. McKinsey stated in June 2022 that the SaaS market was worth around $3 trillion. It estimated this would grow to around $10 trillion by 2030. The top performing companies in the sector have a growth rate in excess of 40%.

Therefore, despite many cutbacks in the digital sector and a struggling economy overall, businesses still have revenue targets to meet and VC backers to please. Even with layoffs, companies are expected to deliver, just with a leaner workforce.

Organisations are well aware of the need to respond quickly to market conditions. Building significant internal resources isn’t necessarily the most effective way to do this. Instead, they are looking to build an ecosystem of external providers who can flex with them as their needs change, with organisations looking to parachute in specialists wherever they’re needed.

Digital and data marketing professionals are still in high demand, if not more so with pressures from above to steer the ship through choppy waters. And since a marketer’s job is to understand the market trends and to market the product, it’s a specialism that simply can’t be ignored.

Businesses are looking internally to identify their specific pain points – whether that is managing data, market strategy or value proposition – and bringing in specialist freelancers or agencies to solve that specific need. It lets companies dial their resourcing up and down as needed without the commitment or training costs that come with a ‘grow your own’ approach.

Headlines about redundancies may highlight the uncomfortable parts of recent change, but notwithstanding the cut-backs and the instability of the economy, SaaS is growing. The bigger story is about a new, adaptable yet specialised workforce and a more intuitive, responsive future workplace able to meet this growth.

A specialist marketing agency can help SaaS businesses maintain growth despite any under-resourcing, while we’ve already seen the boom in the ”gig economy” since the pandemic and good quality freelance support is readily available for content, digital, design and more.

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