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Weekend edition December 15, 2023 | Katelyn Keenehan

Survey says cybersecurity is a top concern for Knoxville companies

The 2023 KTech Pulse Survey report reveals insights into work models, hiring challenges, and tech trends.

In a rapidly evolving landscape, Knoxville businesses are undergoing significant transformations. The 2023 KTech Pulse report developed by the Knoxville Technology Council delved into the work habits, hiring challenges, and technology trends shaping the local professional environment. Here are our top takeaways:

1. Knoxville companies embrace remote work

The survey revealed a diverse range of work models among Knoxville companies. About 25 percent of companies are dedicated to keeping in-person work requirements as a part of their business model. Meanwhile, nearly 40 percent of Knoxville’s companies have adopted a hybrid work model, blending in-person and remote work, reflecting a growing demand for flexibility. Only 10 percent have fully embraced remote work, indicating a nuanced approach to workplace dynamics.

However, the survey also identifies the biggest challenge of remote work as being a “lack of personal connection.” Meaning, that despite the shift toward flexibility, there is also an ongoing struggle to maintain a sense of camaraderie in the virtual space.

From the employee perspective,61 percent of respondents expressed a preference for the hybrid work model. This indicates that a flexible combination of in-person and remote work is widely regarded as the optimal approach.

2. Hiring managers seek more qualified applicants

Contrary to the common belief that there is a shortage of job applicants in Knoxville, the KTech survey revealed the main hiring challenge is finding qualified candidates. This specifically applies to companies in the technology sector. The survey data suggests that businesses prioritize relevant job experience (41.51%) and cultural fit (45.28%) over formal education and certifications (5.66%), emphasizing the increasing importance of practical skills.

In the tech sector, companies are actively seeking professionals with a diverse skill set, including proficiency in AWS Cloud, Microsoft Azure Cloud, project management, data analytics, artificial intelligence/machine learning, networking and infrastructure, cybersecurity, computer hardware maintenance, computer programming, and UI/UX design.

3. Cybersecurity is a major area of investment in 2024

Looking towards the future, the survey indicated that many Knoxville companies are gearing up to expand their cybersecurity efforts in 2024. The representatives for each smpany who completed the survey said they believe artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies will have the most substantial impact on their companies in the next year.

Despite that fact, only 8 percent of companies who completed the survey said they currently have AI as a core part of their operations. Many will seek to expand those efforts in 2024. Only about 2 percent of companies who filled out the survey said they discourage the use of AI, or have banned AI in their workplace.

Below is a picture of the industries who were represented through this survey. Also, there’s a photo of the job titles who filled out the survey. The majority were C-suite executives and Vice Presidents.

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