Most enterprises globally are based in metropolitan regions because of their inherent advantages of good infrastructure and diverse customer base. But certain businesses such as manufacturing facilities and educational institutions may be in smaller cities due to cheaper land prices, government subsidies, proximity to raw materials, and lower salaries, among other reasons.

While these are important considerations from a business perspective, geographic location also has an impact on an organization’s technology function. IT leaders working in non-metro cities encounter several unique strategic and operational challenges that impact IT operations, business outcomes, and their leadership careers. Here are some issues that CIOs in smaller cities face and the strategies they adopt to overcome them.

Talent woes

The foremost challenge for CIOs working outside of big cities is to get trained and skilled resources. The best talent leaves for metros and organizations must hire from what is left.

“If we want to beat competition in the pharmaceutical industry, we must make use of next generation of technologies such as cloud, big data, and analytics. However, skilled resources don’t want to shift from a metro to a smaller city as they tend to look at it as demotion,” says Jitender Mishra, CIO at pharmaceuticals company Akums Group. The company has its manufacturing facility at Haridwar, a small city about 200 kilometers from New Delhi.

Jagdip Kumar, CIO of Kanpur-based Lohia Corp., is even “ready to pay 15% to 20% higher salary than metros” to attract talent. “Besides, we also have a strong brand and major market share, yet we are not able to pull talent,” he says.

To fill the skills gap, technology leaders must groom internal employees through training. Mishra has got his team members certified on AWS and advanced modules of S/4HANA to meet his technology needs for cloud and SAP respectively. “We have linked the employee appraisal to training, which encourages them to upskill. Since their families are based in Haridwar, they don’t move out even after getting trained unless the offer is too good,” he says.

Enhancing skills in a small city, however, also comes with its own challenges, as Manoranjan Kumar[JS1] , CIO at Shree Cement, encountered. “Those who get trained and stay back expect promotions. Over time, someone joining as an engineer could become a manager but without anyone reporting to him. It then becomes tough to justify his managerial role to the HR department, says Manoranjan, who is based in Beawar, a small city in the state of Rajasthan, about 450 kilometers from New Delhi.

Lohia’s Jagdip has found a permanent solution to the problem. “We have set up a satellite office in Noida, which falls under the National Capital Region of New Delhi. We tell the candidates at the time of their recruitment that they will have to spend two weeks in a month in Kanpur. During these two weeks, they visit the shop floor to understand the business requirements at a granular level and come back and work on it in Noida, which balances their personal and professional lives. This approach has worked fine for the company,” he says.

In case of more workload, as a fallback mechanism, Jagdip has entered into an annual maintenance service agreement with KPMG. Under the agreement, Lohia has a fixed number of hours in a month for using KPMG’s resources on any technology project. If the hours are not consumed within a month, they roll over to the next month.

Technology crunch

Enterprise technology leaders must regularly meet vendors to get updates on latest technologies and their demonstrations. However, solution providers often avoid meeting upcountry CIOs as it takes time to travel from their base locations.

“We miss out on new product launches as they take place in metros. We can keep ourselves updated through content from [the internet] but it can’t replace face-to-face meetings. Adoption of new technology is also a challenge, as OEMs are hesitant to travel. The timelines that an IT leader has in metros don’t work here. OEMs cancel their travel at the last moment. All this leads to a delay in project delivery,” says Jagdip.

As Akums is the only pharmaceutical company in Haridwar, “OEMs don’t want to come to handle just a single client,” Mishra says. “We especially request them for POCs and have to bear their travel and food cost. However, once the OEMs come and see the size and depth of the projects, then there is no issue,” says Mishra, who is striving to “build Akums as a brand in terms of technology adoption to attract OEMs.”

For support and maintenance, the OEM has to station a resource at the plant, which increases the cost. When Shree Cement’s Manoranjan deployed a data loss prevention solution, “the cost came to be 20% more than what it could be in a metro.”

To tide over delays, Manoranjan often looks at smaller partners of OEMs to deploy solutions. “Smaller players need business, and they are happy to work with us,” he says.

Jagdip has extended the dual-office strategy here also. He has set up an office in the industrial area on the outskirts of Bengaluru. “The vendors are ready to come there and we have all our POCs there,” he says.

Issues with service support

Getting timely service support is also a challenge that IT leaders in smaller cities encounter. “If a server part is needed, it could take four to five hours to source it from the nearest location, Jaipur, which is approximately 180 kilometers from here. During this time, business is interrupted,” says Manoranjan.

While he keeps certain parts on hand to ensure high availability, it is not possible to keep all spares. As a solution to this problem, he is now migrating to the cloud to cut dependency on servers on-prem. “The organization’s email and analytics have already been migrated while work is on with SAP RISE. We don’t want to move 100% to the cloud. By next year, our target is to have 50-60% of our applications on the cloud,” he says.

Limited self-growth

There are lots of insightful enterprise technology forums and events being organized in metros, which help in facilitating peer-to-peer knowledge exchange besides keeping an IT leader abreast with the latest in the industry.

“CIOs in remote locations must leave office for three to four days if they want to participate in such events, which is tough. Vendors gradually realize this and stop inviting such CIOs. IT leaders in metros are meanwhile persuaded a lot by organizers to attend,” says Manoranjan.

As there are no direct flights from Haridwar, Mishra has to first travel to the nearest airport, 50 kilometers away in Dehradun, which “takes up one extra day.” For making the most of his time, Mishra says, “I get all the invites but attend only those that offer value to me.”

Jagdip Kumar says, “The key lies in participating in those events that yield growth not only to the CIO but also to the organization. Our company’s management is open to such events. I encourage my team members in Noida to attend relevant events and as I spend a week each month in Noida, I also attend anything that is important.”

Embracing the challenge

Given the challenges of working smaller cities, most IT leaders prefer to work in larger metropolitan areas, such as New Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru in India. Some, however, find the challenge of leading IT in more remote areas exciting.

“Working in smaller cities makes an IT leader learn to deal with adverse situations. I don’t have a problem till there are budgets, respect, and management focus on digital,” says Mishra, who worked in Vadodara, another non-metro, as the group CIO of Alembic Pharmaceuticals before coming to Haridwar.

Jagdip says, “Smaller cities are behind metros in terms of technology adoption, as such, there are more things that a CIO can do. In metros, enterprises have already invested in technology and IT leaders must continue with old technology. I made the right decision of joining Lohia Corp.”

Manoranjan enjoys working in Beawar as “it offers low stress, less commute, and a pollution-free environment. I am on the verge of retirement, and this is the perfect place for my final assignment,” says Manoranjan, who has spent more than 35 years in various roles in enterprise technology.

IT Leadership, IT Management

The world has become increasingly urbanised. The UN reports that since 2007 more than half the world’s population has been living in cities. That number is projected to rise to 60% by 2030. 

Increased urbanisation brings with it increased responsibility for cities, especially regarding the environment. Cities account for roughly 70% of global carbon emissions and over 60% of resource use.

Put simply, the world is on a collision course with an ecological reckoning and cities are the leading contributors. Therefore, it follows they must also be the leading drivers of change if we are to make good on our currently faltering climate pledges. If cities are to successfully take climate action, artificial intelligence (AI) has a vital role to play.

What is AI?

AI is hard to define, both because it covers a wide range of offerings and because it is essentially a moving target — constantly learning and evolving is intrinsic to its purpose. At the most basic level, AI leverages computers and machines to mimic the problem-solving and decision-making capabilities of the human mind. Essentially, it turns human-defined goals into mathematical ones.

AI has long been touted as the technological tool that possesses both the greatest potential for advancement and the greatest level of risk. The leading risk regards data privacy. Smart cities rely on data provided by citizens to function, but if that data were to be accessed by a party with sinister intentions, problems would arise. The state, too, can potentially misuse AI, harvesting and exploiting data in ways that infringe on citizens’ privacy. More overtly, if a hacker were to gain access to smart traffic control systems, they could cause mayhem.

So how can smart cities be sure they’re using AI correctly, advancing the sustainability agenda in a responsible and equitable way?

AI in cities

AI has the potential to impact nearly every aspect of the smart city. It bolsters security with incident detection and intelligent CCTV. It increases efficiency with traffic and parking management on roads, as well as automated updates and tracking options on public transportation. It monitors air quality, manages waste, analyses energy usage — and that barely scratches the surface.

To do all this, AI relies on data. Processing data, recognizing patterns, and devising solutions based on those patterns — even predicting potential future difficulties that can be mitigated — are AI’s fundamental pillars. As such, any city that recognises and wants to capitalise on AI’s potential must ensure that its urban services are collecting data as effectively as possible. That’s where connected lighting can play an important part.

Sustainable partners: AI and connected lighting

Connected city street lighting can serve as a valuable platform for a secure, distributed sensor network that can collect the necessary data AI requires, even on a citywide scale. Systems like Interact provide the best lighting experiences while also acting as the framework for enabling a whole host of smart city applications.

Sensors in streetlights can monitor air quality and temperature. They can also detect sounds — such as gunshots or smashed windows — and then alert first responders in real time, reducing crime and helping citizens feel more secure. Additionally, they can be used to streamline traffic management by offering real-time traffic information and smart parking. This information can be shared with city traffic managers or directly with drivers via an app.

Connected lighting is pivotal from a sustainability standpoint too. If every business and city around the world converted all their conventional light points to connected LED, it would reduce annual carbon emissions by more than 553 million tons of CO2. That’s equivalent to the amount of carbon that 25 billion trees could sequester in a year.

Smart cities that are serious about sustainability need to consider the benefits of connected lighting both as an enabler of AI capabilities and a sustainable solution in its own right.

Potential pitfalls

AI will be key to addressing social, economic, and ecological challenges at a global scale. However, its limitations must also be acknowledged.

AI & Cities: Risks, Applications and Governance, a report published by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) in collaboration with the Mila-Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute, points to some of these risks. “In order for an algorithm to reason, it must gain an understanding of its environment,” the authors write. “This understanding is provided by the data. Whatever assumptions and biases are represented in the dataset will be reproduced in how the algorithm reasons and what output it produces.”

As noted earlier, AI turns human-defined goals into mathematical ones. But if the human-defined goals are based on existing preconceptions, then the data will end up reinforcing those assumptions.

AI also falls short in evaluating its own performance. As the UN-Habitat report notes, “While it may be tempting to see algorithms as neutral ’thinkers,’ they are neither neutral nor thinkers.” AI has no grasp of wider context, and so can only produce results based on its pre-defined optimisation goals, which may be at odds with wider considerations — or worse, serve a misleading agenda.

AI systems are mathematical and cannot integrate nuance. This means AI can sometimes end up excluding or underrepresenting subjective, qualitative information from its findings.

Minimise risk with governance and accountability

There are ways to mitigate the risks associated with artificial intelligence’s shortcomings. Key among them are governance and accountability.

Accountability ensures that some entity is always held responsible — and more importantly, always feels responsible — for AI’s impact. Algorithmic systems evolve, often unpredictably. A change in purpose will change their effects. Proper accountability can help negate mission creep, where technologies are intentionally repurposed for surveillance and other extraneous purposes. It can also help ensure that bad faith actors aren’t able to willfully mishandle AI’s goals, or to repurpose them over time.

AI governance refers to the sum of AI regulations, ethics, norms, administrative procedures, and social processes. Governance helps ensure AI is used in an inclusive and equitable way, and that preconceptions or lack of awareness in the early stages don’t allow AI findings to widen the digital divide or exacerbate existing inequalities. Governance lets local authorities evaluate the opportunities and risks afforded by AI, so they can then apply it in accordance with local context.

Consulting citizens and communities is vital, too. The public is every city’s primary stakeholder; they need to have a voice in how a tool as powerful as AI is being used in their community. This helps ensure AI is fixing local problems, not aggravating them.

Responsible AI

AI’s capacity for generating and expanding the possibilities of smart cities is considerable, especially in advancing sustainable causes. There are risks, but also ways around them. Conscientious decision-making that factors in local communities and consults local authorities will help ensure cities get the best from AI.

To find out more about Interact click here.

Artificial Intelligence, Banking, Education Industry, Financial Services Industry

Where are you right now, as you read this? Our educated guess would be a city. According to current figures from World Bank, around half of the world’s population — 56% to be precise — call cities their home. However, if we were to ask you the same question in 2050, those odds will have increased significantly.

Estimates from the same report suggest that in less than 30 years, 70% of the population will live in cities. In countries like the US, this figure is set to exceed 80%. It’s clear that urbanization is growing at a rapid rate. Cities are devouring a greater proportion of rural spaces — and an increasing number of people see them as providing the best opportunity for work and quality of life.

This growth places cities at the forefront of economic, social, and global concerns about energy and water use, traffic management, sanitation, and sustainability. To address those concerns, municipalities are increasingly turning to smart solutions that promise to improve infrastructure and governance. But how does a city know which vendors to trust? Which partners are most capable of bringing a city’s smart ambitions to fruition?

As with every high-growth market, regulation and certification often has to play catch-up. There are hundreds of companies promising the latest smart technology, the brightest and best innovations. Only relatively recently have organisations begun to evaluate and make efforts to agree upon the criteria for what qualifies a city as smart.

The AWS Smart City Competency partnership 

A smart city requires the proper mix of data, technology, infrastructure, and services to deliver sustainable and citizen-centric solutions. It’s important for city authorities to work with the right partners, ones that enable smart cities and help them thrive.

Amazon — more specifically Amazon Web Services (AWS) — has emerged as a leader in smart city certification with its Smart City Competency partnership. The initiative is designed to “support public sector customers’ innovations to quickly deliver smarter and more efficient citizen services.” As a trusted presence in the digital space, AWS is well positioned to deliver world-class recommendations to customers looking to build and deploy innovative smart city solutions.

The premise is fairly straightforward. The AWS Smart City Competency “will differentiate highly specialised AWS Partners with a demonstrated deep technical expertise and proven track record of customer success within the Smart City use cases.” The idea is that, through the AWS Smart City Competency, customers will be able to quickly and confidently identify approved partners to help them address smart city challenges.

The benefits are clear. When working with a certified AWS partner like Interact, you can feel secure knowing that the system has met and exceeded a high competence threshold. The partnership offers a host of additional benefits, including partner opportunity acceleration funding, discounted AWS training, and ongoing support and networking opportunities.

Opportunities from the World Bank, the UN, and elsewhere

The AWS Smart City Competency is just one example of an initiative designed to define smart city standards. World Bank, a voice of authority in the smart city space, has launched the Global Smart City Partnership Program (GSCP).

The Global Smart City Partnership Program was established in 2018 to help the World Bank Group teams and clients make the best use of data, technologies, and available resources. It is built on the understanding that technology – and data-driven innovations can improve city planning, management, and service delivery, better engage citizens, and enhance governmental accountability. Like the AWS program, the goal of the World Bank is to work closely with prominent smart city experts from all around the world and match them with certified partners they can trust.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for Smart Cities shares a similar desire for aligning smart city customers and dependable vendors. The UNDP cites a number of factors by which smart city projects fail, including organisational culture, difficulties in achieving behaviour change, lack of technical expertise and leadership, and a singular focus on technology. Too often, the actual needs and realities of customers are overlooked; only by matching those customers with genuine smart city experts can a greater level of success be achieved.

Emerging smart city standards

For a city to truly become a smart city, it needs to integrate data-driven solutions across numerous application areas, from transportation and mobility to utility planning, waste management, and emergency response. This means it’s likely that decision makers will turn to numerous vendors to carry out individual projects.

But cities are not silos. They’re living, breathing entities — ecosystems in which each element impacts and interacts with the next. This makes the issue of interoperability a pertinent one.

According to Smart Cities World, “Public tenders for various smart city applications globally more and more include the requests for compliance to international standards . . . [V]endors want to make sure that their systems are future-proof and allow interoperability with other market players.”

Not only does this highlight the benefits of being recognised and certified by the programs we’ve discussed, but it places a greater onus on providers to ensure that their products adopt an open systems approach.

Emerging standards, best practices, and coordinated initiatives, along with a general increase in experience and expertise, has made it easier to recognise what a smart city is—and, crucially, what it is not. For cities with smart aspirations, choosing the right partner is integral to success. Certification programs like the ones mentioned here make it far easier to judge who those partners are. To find out more about Interact click here.

Artificial Intelligence, Banking, Education Industry, Financial Services Industry

Cybercrime is nothing new. The threats that accompany society’s increased digitalization have been explored in alarmist articles, science fiction movies, and everything in between for decades. But that doesn’t mean the need for robust cybersecurity isn’t real. Digital enhancement brings increasing digital risk. Stringent provisions are more necessary than ever. 

Cybercrime’s prevalence and costs are significant. The UN reported that cybercrime skyrocketed by 600% during the pandemic, a result of an almost overnight reliance on digital working, shopping, and communication. There was a 10% increase in the average total cost per security breach from 2020 to 2021, while a McAfee report estimates that the global cost of cybercrime has now reached over US$1 trillion. 

Easy targets: smart retail and smart cities 

The need for vigilant cybersecurity measures is paramount. The retail sector has proven especially vulnerable. Trustwave reports that retail is on the receiving end of 24% of all cyberattacks, more than any other industry. 

Retail’s reliance on mixed technology, pairing old point-of-sale systems like cash registers and in-store purchases with cloud-based e-commerce and administrative systems, makes it an ideal target for hackers. On top of that, retail’s customer data tends to be high value, often consisting of credit card details, phone numbers, and security questions and answers. The industry’s high staff turnover rate also makes it vulnerable. Some 64% of retailers report attempted attacks each month, with the cost of a hack to an e-commerce site currently averaging $4 million. In 2020, cyberattacks cost online retailers a remarkable £5.9 billion  in the UK alone

But the problem is not limited to e-commerce. Brick-and-mortar retail stores are at enormous risk too. In fact, part of the reason physical stores have become an easy target for cybercriminals is that in-store management is often inattentive, presuming that such attacks only take place online.  

That may have been true at one time, but many physical stores today are increasingly reliant on Internet of Things (IoT) devices. IoT solutions offer extraordinary benefits in-store: indoor navigation, presence detection, and preventive maintenance, to name a few. But if not properly secured, increased digitalization can leave retailers exposed. 

Smart cities and the Multi-Stakeholder Manifesto 

Equally vulnerable are smart cities. To thrive as intended, smart cities rely on a complex and interdependent network of devices, platforms, systems, and users, all contributing vital information that helps keep the engine running. But to be reliant on so many moving parts can leave gaps—exposing areas that bad faith actors know how to exploit.  

A key challenge for smart cities is integration and coordination. Cities are often made up of multiple municipalities, each of which typically has a different set of capabilities, different priorities, and different approaches to technology management. Increased communication among smart city stakeholders is vital for confronting cybersecurity threats. 

Some steps have already been taken to address such concerns. Over fifty civil society and industry representatives support the Multi-Stakeholder Manifesto, launched in 2021. The manifesto warns that cybercrime “poses new risks to human security, dignity, and equity” and that “no single actor can adequately counter them on their own.” It proposes a multi-stakeholder approach that puts protecting victims at the top of its agenda.  

“Governments around the world have long abused cybercrime measures and used cybercrime legislation to expand state control and criminalise the publication and dissemination of unwelcome content, to impose mass surveillance and curb privacy in the name of fighting terrorism,” the authors note. 

To effectively battle cybercrime, cooperation is required on a regional, national, and international level. Fractious regional and transnational relationships and opaque data management practices only fuel cybercrime’s rise. 

Problems and solutions 

The emergence of intelligent networks made up of billions of connected devices across a range of sectors has created a whole new world of vulnerabilities for cybercriminals to exploit. Some of the most common cybercrimes are phishing scams, ransomware, data breaches, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, and supply chain disruptions. Cybersecurity must continually innovate and adapt to confront a diverse and ever-evolving range of threats.  

As such, many new solutions have presented themselves. WISeKey has emerged as a vital authentication and identification partner, while Darktrace employs AI as a tool of defense—preventing, detecting, responding, and recovering from cyberattacks at the very same time.  

Meanwhile, Li-Fi adoption grows every year. Because it’s line-of-sight, Li-Fi is more secure than Wi-Fi—it won’t leak through walls or even windows with the blinds closed. Additionally, it can be paired with high-quality lighting within the same luminaire

What next? 

Some 57% of large and midsize businesses cite security concerns as the top barrier to further IoT adoption. But the real issue is not the IoT or the systems that use it: it’s companies and systems that use the IoT without making sure robust cybersecurity measures are implemented and managed properly. 

The top tech companies in the world have pledged billions of dollars to strengthen cybersecurity and train skilled cybersecurity workers, an action that speaks to how seriously they are taking the threat.  

But cybersecurity is an issue that covers the whole spectrum of society. As Google’s global affairs chief, Kent Walker, said upon announcing the measures, “Robust cybersecurity ultimately depends on having the people to implement it.” So it makes sense to partner with a reliable expert in the field that is always keeping an eye on the latest threats and the evolving solutions that exist to counteract them. 

Just as one would feel responsible for the security of a guest in their home, so companies should feel responsible for those navigating their website, store, or purchasing their products. Investing in the best in cybersecurity is the only way to keep people — and their data — safe. 

Click here to find out more about how Signify’s LiFi systems provide high-speed connectivity and unique physical security.  

Security

These days, it’s difficult to find a company that isn’t looking for qualified professionals to fill vital IT roles. In fact, despite layoffs and hiring freezes reported among technology companies, IT job postings grew month-over-month in the first half of 2022, a boom Dice.com attributes to IT hiring having strengthened in nearly every other industry outside of tech, according to its Tech Jobs Report.

This means that career opportunities for IT pros is growing beyond the usual coastal cities that typically dominate IT hiring. The COVID-19 pandemic has also contributed to a boom in tech job postings in various cities across the country, as a number of IT professionals relocated to new cities or states, and employers became more open to hiring remote workers. This was especially true for Silicon Valley, which saw a mass exodus of tech workers throughout the pandemic. Companies have since started to branch out, opening offices in cities that have more space, a lower cost of living, and a diverse talent pool.

While hiring remains strong in traditional tech hubs, such as San Francisco and New York, tech job postings have increased the most this year in the following 12 cities, according to data from Dice, making them the fastest growing locations for IT jobs in the US today.

1. Orlando, Fla. 

Orlando experienced the most significant increase in tech job postings, with 111% year over year growth. Typically seen as a city for retirees and tourists, Orlando is making a name for itself as a growing tech metropolis. The city is home to several colleges and universities, making it a hot spot for recruiting talent, and it’s not too difficult to sell candidates on a move to Florida. The city also built the Central Florida Research Park, a campus-like environment for businesses located nearby the University of Central Florida. A Creative Village was also built in downtown Orlando to serve as an urban innovation center complete with mixed-income residential buildings, student housing, office and creative space, and more. Companies such as Apple, Oracle, Veritas, Lockheed Martin, AMD, MITRE, and Electronic Arts have offices in the Orlando area, and the average tech salary in Orlando is $88,598 per year, according to the Orlando Business Journal.

2. Miami, Fla. 

Dubbed “Silicon Beach,” Miami has experienced 104% year over year growth for tech job postings, according to Dice. Much of this growth is attributed to Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who has encouraged technologists and tech companies to make the move to Miami. Some of the top hiring organizations in Miami include Anthem Blue Cross, Accenture, Deloitte, Dell, ChenMed, and UKG. Companies in Mami are looking for software developers and engineers, project managers, network engineers and architects, IT project managers, and customer support specialists. Tech salaries have grown alongside job postings — the average tech salary rose 11.4% between 2020 and 2021, with an average annual salary of $92,000.

3. Detroit

Detroit was one of the cities that saw a lot of “boomerangs” during the pandemic, which is a term for people who have moved away only to eventually return and settle down. With the rise of remote work, many took the opportunity to move back to Detroit, strengthening the talent pool in the area. The city is also expected to add around 1,800 new tech jobs this year, according to CompTIA. Companies such as Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Amazon, and Pinterest have opened offices in Detroit in recent years. Detroit experienced a 90% year over year growth in tech job postings, with an average tech salary of $99,376 per year, according to Dice.

4. Irvine, Calif. 

Irvine has experienced 89% year-over-year growth in tech job postings, according to Dice. Amazon plans to add 800 office and tech jobs to Irvine this year and Apple has also signed a lease on a building in the city. Mayor Farrah Khan also launched an Innovation Council, which consists of industry leaders from government, education, and business sectors to bolster the region’s position in the tech industry. Companies that have opened offices in Irvine include Sega, Razer, Vizio, Viant Technology, Blizzard Entertainment, and The Linksys Group, among others.

5. Houston 

While Austin has long been viewed as Texas’ premier tech hub, Houston has also seen a boom in tech talent of late, boasting 83% year-over-year growth in tech job postings, with an average tech salary of $100,341 per year, according to Dice. The city converted an abandoned Sears department store into a 300,000 square-foot complex for innovation and as a spot for startup accelerators and incubators. The goal is to cultivate even more tech talent in the Houston area, bringing bigger tech giants to the area. Companies with offices in Houston include The Aerospace Corp., ServiceNow, Optum, Corva, Siemens, and AvidXchange, among others.

6. San Antonio 

San Antonio’s “Tech Port” is a 1,900-acre campus located at the former site of the Kelly Air Force Base, which has been redeveloped over the past 20 years to help the city advance the local technology industry. The Tech Port also features a music venue, and the proceeds from events go to the Kelly Heritage Foundation, which provides technology and STEM opportunities to students in the San Antonio area. Companies such as Hulu, Amazon, IBM, Oracle, Apple, ServiceNow, iheartMedia, and Cisco have opened offices in San Antonio. Job tech postings in San Antonio grew by 80% year over year, with the average tech worker earning $81,870 per year, according to Dice.

7. Portland, Ore. 

Portland is part of the “Silicon Forest,” a moniker that references high-tech companies that have settled into the Portland metropolitan area. The tech scene in Portland started back in the 1940s with companies such as Tektronix, Intel, InFocus, PixelWorks, Hewlett-Packard, Xerox, and Epson moving into the area. In the early 2000s, Portland suffered a hit during the dotcom bust, with a lull in tech job hiring. But that has turned around in recent years as the city experienced 76% year-over-year growth in tech job postings, with the average tech salary coming in at $107,185 per year, according to Dice.

8. Tampa, Fla. 

Dubbed the No. 1 emerging tech city in the US by Forbes, Tampa is home to more than 25% of all the technology jobs in Florida, with an anticipated 2,000 additional jobs to be added in the coming year. The city is in the process of building a mixed-used Innovation Center in Tampa’s Uptown neighborhood, with 19 square miles of housing, creative, office, and retail space to be built around the University of Southern Tampa. Companies such as Infosys, IBM, Wipro, Honeywell, Apple, Oracle, Microsoft, Google, Dell, and Salesforce have opened offices in Tampa within the past few years. Tampa experienced a 71% year-over-year growth in tech job postings over the past year and tech workers earn an average salary of $97,098 per year, according to Dice.

9. Phoenix

Phoenix is home to the “Silicon Desert,” and it’s quickly becoming a hot spot for the tech industry, with a focus on telecommunications, electronics manufacturing, and aerospace. Operational costs in Phoenix are 36% less than in California, according to the Phoenix Business Journal, making it an appealing spot for tech companies looking for a less expensive home base for headquarters. It’s also the fifth-largest data center market in the nation, with a “low natural disaster risk, inexpensive power, and a competitive colocation and cloud market.” Phoenix is home to companies such as ADP, Workiva, ServiceNow, Traffic Tech, BigTime Software, and General Motors. Job tech postings in Phoenix grew 69% year over year, with tech workers earning an average annual salary of $91,105, according to Dice.

10. Charlotte, N.C. 

Charlotte has been hailed as the tech hub of the south, with tech job postings growing 65% year over year, and an average annual salary of $100,691 for tech workers, according to Dice. There’s strong traction with tech jobs in the financial services industry, as banking turns more to digital transformation. Charlotte is home to companies such as Red Ventures, Credit Karma, EPAM Systems, Torc Robotics, Axios, Cisco, LendingTree, and AvidXchange. There’s high demand for software engineers, web developers, IT support specialists, network administrators and architects, data scientists, and cybersecurity professionals, according to CompTIA.

11. Boston 

Boston has grown to become a popular tech hub in recent years, with companies such as Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle opening offices in the city. Amazon recently opened a technology hub in the Seaport district, with space for over 2,000 employees and over 1,000 technology and corporate roles available. There’s also a hot market for startups in the city and access to graduates from MIT, Harvard, BU, Tufts, and Northeastern. VCs have relocated to the area to keep an eye on emerging startups given the city’s success rate with startups such as Hubspot, Care.com, TripAdvisor, and Wayfair. Job tech postings in Boston grew 64% year over year, with an average tech salary of $114,959 per year, according to Dice.

12. St. Louis

Missouri is part of what’s been named the “Silicon Prairie,” which includes several midwestern states that have experienced a boom of tech companies opening shop. Tech job postings in St. Louis grew by 64% year over year, according to data from Dice. And the average annual salary for tech employees in St. Louis is $124,487, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Midwestern states often have a lower cost of living and more space than the traditional tech hubs. This has drawn tech companies and technologists alike to the Midwest to put down roots in St. Louis. Companies that have moved to or opened an office in St. Louis include Spectrum, EPAM Systems, ServiceNow, Cash App, ServiceTitan, Boeing, and Square, among others.

Hiring, IT Jobs