automation alley 2016 technology industry report

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Survey of top tech executives reveals surprising results

Southeast Michigan’s top tech executives are very optimistic about 2016 — even more so than their Silicon Valley counterparts in terms of growth, revenue, R&D investment and hiring, according to Automation Alley’s 2016 Technology Industry Report. 

In November 2015, Automation Alley conducted a survey of top senior executives currently working in the technology industry in both Southeast Michigan and Silicon Valley. The results show that Southeast Michigan is indeed a hotbed for technology and innovation and, according to the industry’s C-level professionals, it rivals technology powerhouse Silicon Valley as the best place to do business.

“As Michigan’s leading technology business association, Automation Alley publishes this report to increase awareness of Southeast Michigan as a leading center for tech talent, innovation and opportunity in America,” says Ken Rogers, Automation Alley executive director. “These results make a statement that this region competes favorably with the Silicon Valleys of the world. No need to get on a plane, take a train and head for a better technology center than what we have right here in Southeast Michigan. We compete with the best and brightest in America. We encourage the region’s leaders and influencers, as well as companies and individuals, to tout these new findings. Use the data to recruit. Tell those college grads that they have a tech future right here. Use this report as a tool to further attract talent and investment to our region.”

The report found that Southeast Michigan technology companies are more optimistic about 2016 growth than their Silicon Valley counterparts. Of the tech executives polled, 99 percent of Southeast Michigan technology companies project revenue growth in 2016, compared to 90 percent in Silicon Valley. 

The report also found that eight in 10 Southeast Michigan technology companies surveyed plan to invest in R&D and make new hires in 2016. According to the data, 83 percent of executives in Southeast Michigan expect an increase in their company’s R&D spending, compared to 81 percent in Silicon Valley. And 82 percent of Southeast Michigan executives surveyed planned to hire more talent in 2016, compared to 81 percent in Silicon Valley.

Another key finding: Southeast Michigan is a better place for technology professionals to build their careers than Silicon Valley. According to those surveyed, 81 percent of Southeast Michigan technology executives agree the region provides more networking opportunities than other metro areas, compared to 77 percent in Silicon Valley. In addition, Southeast Michigan tech executives see more opportunity for ongoing education than their Silicon Valley counterparts. Of those surveyed, 85 percent of Southeast Michigan tech executives believe their region has leading academic institutions for self-advancement, compared to only 68 percent in Silicon Valley. 

Finally, Southeast Michigan tech executives also think it’s easier to retain talent than their Silicon Valley counterparts. Of those surveyed, 74 percent of Southeast Michigan tech executives believe it is easier for technology companies to retain talent in their region compared to other metro areas, while only 67 percent of Silicon Valley tech executives felt that way. 

Supporting data for the report, along with employment projections for 2016, were provided by East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group. In addition to assessing data for the Southeast Michigan region, the report looked at data for five U.S. metropolitan regions that are widely considered to be among the nation’s leading technology hubs: San Jose, Chicago, Boston, Seattle and Austin. 

For a link to more key findings and to view the entire report, visit automationalley.com.