Jason Klein is leading the largest chapter of the Association of Information Technology Professionals. Membership is up 10 percent to 230.
2016 Projection Developers will build on cloud infrastructure to increase mobile connectivity, and 3-D printing will go mainstream.
SBJ: How would you characterize the local technology industry?
Jason Klein: It seems that we’re seeing quite a bit of growth, and a common theme is that employers appreciate the low cost of employment, versus other areas. There are a couple large employers with some pretty big projects, and I think we’re able to keep the jobs here because the costs are low. For example, O’Reilly [Automotive] is taking advantage of technology and starting to offer online shipping. That’s in the works, so they’re hiring like crazy on the tech side and ramping up their e-commerce (to) ship to the individual and not just to stores. That’s a pretty big project.
SBJ: What types of technology companies do you see advancing in 2016?
Klein: I really see growth in all these different devices connecting to the cloud. The industry term is Internet of things. More people will make devices that leverage the cloud. You can get crockpots now that you can set the temperature from work because you pull it up on your phone. You’re going to see a lot more of that.
Another area I believe will see a lot of growth next year is 3-D printing – the idea that you can manufacture things with a printer. We’re not talking one-off hobbyist shops. I see more people going to that in their production lines in the next year or two. You’re seeing schools adopt this technology and teach it in maker spaces.
It used to be if you had an idea, you had to ship it off for a prototype to come back and wait another four, six, eight weeks. This was an expensive process. Now, you come up with an idea, take it to the local print shop and the same day you could be holding what you were just thinking.
SBJ: What’s an example of emerging technology shaping our daily lives?
Klein: We’re all of a sudden one of the leading cities in terms of Verizon coverage. Verizon has teamed up with the city of Springfield to install basically little 4G towers on all these telephone poles SpringNet is connected to.
All of a sudden, you have 200, 300, 400 of these things across town, which means 10, 20, 30 (megabyte) Internet in your pocket wherever you go.
SBJ: People are often wowed by technology. What ingenuity out there has raised your eyebrows?
Klein: Amazon. You can get a button and you push the button and it orders something. You can stick one of these buttons on your washer and you program it so when you run low on detergent, you push the button and Amazon will send you more detergent.
SBJ: Will app development wane?
Klein: I see on the development side in 2016, fewer people developing apps and more people focusing on the Web. As the Web continues to mature, it can do a lot of the things we ask apps to do.
We’re getting to the point where a website can use your phone’s camera or its GPS. It’s just a matter of time where that dynamic between your hardware and the Web is so tight, you don’t need an app, per se, you’re just on the Web and you use things without having to install them.
SBJ: What tech skills do you see being most in demand?
Klein: Certainly, there’s growth on the programming side. It’s hard to find qualified programmers in the area. I’ve heard that some are importing programmers, which can be a feat, depending on where they come from. The pay is lower here.
SBJ: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2014 annual mean wage in Springfield for computer and mathematical jobs was around $57,000. Is that a true picture? Do you see that increasing in 2016?
Klein: Yeah, that seems reasonable. I haven’t seen any sign of a decrease in pay anywhere. As people continue to fight for a small pool of employees, that’s naturally going to raise the pay scale.
SBJ: What segment of the tech industry is most lacking locally?
Klein: Internet on the outskirts of our area. You have a huge cliff where if you were to draw a map and shade in the gigabit area, you get outside that fringe and then you have 10 [megabytes] and then you have none. It’s pretty dramatic. If we could tackle that, we’d attract a lot more people who want to live on the fringe and not in the cities.
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