This year has brought the strongest growth in the technology sector in a number of years, a boom which is expected to continue through the rest of 2018, according to J.B. Wood, CEO of the Technology Services Industry Association, a California-based organization that helps technology companies grow.
Wood said most of the growth is moving toward cloud-based platforms. The cloud refers to a network of remote servers that holds information. “That’s really where the growth is accelerating as opposed to traditional, on-premise hardware and software,” Wood said.
According to Wood, the growth is due, in part, to the economic necessity of companies investing more in technology. “There’s this concept of digital disruption, which means every company and industry is either going to disrupt its competitors by creating digital engagement platforms with their customers and suppliers, or they’re going to be disrupted by somebody else who does,” he explained. “Almost every company is trying to become a software company. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the heavy equipment business or you’re in the flower business. . . . Even companies that never thought of themselves as tech companies are now reinventing themselves as tech companies.”
Matt Gardner, CEO of the California Technology Council, said the short- to mid-range technology sector outlook is very strong. “We’re at 4% unemployment in California, which is structurally zero,” he said. “The growth sectors in the California economy are strained to find people, which is a great problem to have. In the areas where there’s high demand, the universities can’t produce talent fast enough. . . . The sectors in the highest demand are always software engineering, data science, analytics and of course cyber security.”
Gardner predicted a shift towards companies in California hiring remotely if they can’t find enough talent to fill spots in the highest demand industries. “More and more, these needs can be met by the ‘gig’ economy,” he said. “In some industries like cyber-security or data science, if those demands can’t be met in California, we’ll see those companies add personnel in places where they can get some of that talent more cheaply. California may lose some opportunities in the long run because of that scarcity. But in the short run, this is still the best place to get software engineers and data scientists.”
According to Gardner, the City of Long Beach has leveraged itself to take advantage of growth in technology. “I think Long Beach has really set itself up very well to be relatively early in the movement toward big data and data science,” Gardner said. “Long Beach has built a technology & innovation department. [The city] has been thinking a long time how this information could be useful, not only to the industry but to citizens.”
Founder and CEO, FreeConferenceCall.com
As the founder of FreeConferenceCall.com, a technology-driven company based in Long Beach for nearly 20 years, I’ve witnessed dramatic changes in the City’s economic environment. Although the City is currently increasing its share of technology investment dollars, we continue to attract far fewer innovative startups than our neighbors to the north and south.
I based my company here because I live here and love the city’s culture, central location, creative workforce and cost of doing business (and beach proximity didn’t hurt). Those factors continue to be key differentiators for a growing cadre of creative-minded startups like Zwift, CritiqueIt and Laserfiche who recently decided to make Long Beach their home. Yet according to a geographic review of Southern California venture capital funding by CityLab Editor Robert Florida, Long Beach received less than a tenth of the funding invested in comparably sized cities including Dallas, Denver and Portland.
It’s interesting to note that this 2013 report is the most recent story I could find breaking out Long Beach as a distinct investment region. More recent reporting from the Boston Consulting Group in partnership with the Alliance for Southern California Innovation fails to mention Long Beach among its eight “major SoCal tech nodes of excellence”. That report suggests six key strategies for growing SoCal technology innovation including creating a SoCal “band of angels” similar to Silicon Valley’s. This group would be comprised of seasoned entrepreneurs who could foster the “swing-for-the-fences mentality” that prevails in the Silicon Valley culture. Perhaps it’s time for Long Beach to get its own “band of angels” together to elevate awareness of Long Beach as a technology incubator for the future.
Senior Vice President West Region, Frontier Communications
Showing great prospects for future growth, the Long Beach technology industry is a highly innovative, robust and dynamic business environment. Frontier Communications knows broadband services and high-speed Internet access are critical to the prosperity of Long Beach and the region. High-speed Internet access creates life-changing benefits and enables Californians and businesses to fully participate in the expanding digital economy.
To support growing needs, Frontier offers a variety of services over our fiber-optic and copper networks. Frontier FiOS 100% fiber-optic network delivers high-speed internet access ideal for modern businesses that collaborate digitally, share large files, and use cloud-based applications.
Frontier’s continued investment in broadband is critical to realizing digital opportunities. With expanded access to the Internet, businesses of all sizes, workers, families, students and others will gain the access essential for conducting business, job training, employment applications, civic activities, health care, homework public safety and government services. We are building broadband infrastructure to connect unserved and underserved households, installing public Wi-Fi hotspots to connect communities, and also offering an affordable broadband service to ensure low-income residents have access.
Frontier is committed to serving Long Beach. In addition to helping business grow, we are proud to be a community partner to help close the Digital Divide here and around the nation. More information about Frontier is available at www.frontier.com.
President and CEO, Epson America
For the remainder of 2018, Epson America expects continued growth in the commercial technology space and in a variety of technology markets the company addresses.
On the commercial front, we are seeing success in our efforts to bring the latest printing solutions to small, medium and large business. We are seeing our 100-page per minute workgroup and enterprise printer – the Epson WorkForce Enterprise WF-C20590 – gain traction with partners and customers.
We have also seen growth in the high ink capacity printers targeted toward consumer and SMB markets. We expect the market growth of our EcoTank Supertank printing line to continue through the end of the year as customers become more familiar and comfortable with the inherent benefits of large ink capacity printers.
Our expansion of laser projection technology into more experiential and creative environment applications is yielding very solid results – including the launch of our new LightScene™ accent lighting laser projector, designed for digital art, commercial signage and décor applications. With Epson’s continued innovation, potential and existing customers in corporate, education, and rental and staging markets are seeing the value of long lasting and virtually maintenance-free technology.
Epson is also forecasting our other lines of business such as Epson Robots, scanning solutions and large format printing for the graphics, photography and textile markets to continue on an upward trend.
As we move toward the end of 2018, Epson remains focused on creating and delivering efficient, compact and precision technologies to the market that benefit partners, customers and employees.
The technology sector, in my opinion, isn’t a separate but an integral part of the economy at large. Overall, technology just makes general economic growth more efficient and productive. It acts as an accelerant. Uber and Airbnb are examples that illustrate this point. While consumers only interact with one easy-to-use interface, each consists of multiple technologies all working to make travel easier, more predictable and more efficient: hand-held mobile devices, SMS, GPS, and mobile payment technology.
I think the economy as a whole is poised for explosive growth – if American politicians don’t “fix” it first with trade barriers and protective practices. I cite the following as dark clouds looming.
Since President Trump’s canceling of the Iran nuclear deal, gasoline and petroleum prices have increased by over 20 percent. This serves to throttle back economic velocity, as energy is essential for production.
The U.S. pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership about a year ago, and at present we are on the verge of a trade war with China. If the trade imbalance is considered serious, it could have been discussed and negotiated – had we remained in the partnership. Considering the amount of U.S. Treasury bills that China holds and continues to buy, this could become serious if they were to stop buying and start selling.
Other factors that could potentially affect the economy: NAFTA establishes North America as a free trade zone, which businesses and investors love. Diversity is key to a successful, vibrant economy. Messing with it will only stifle growth.
These issues notwithstanding, I’m very bullish.