Recent grads and experienced job seekers looking to work on innovative projects frequently name the best-known technology firms as their most desired employers.

Google (usually in the top five and, in some surveys, the number one most frequently named firm), Apple, Microsoft, and IBM – are staples on the list of desired employers.

Some job seekers looking for the opportunity to work in an innovative environment might not think that not all innovation is coming out of just the most high-profile tech firms.

Some of the most cutting-edge techs are coming out of places one would least expect. A common misperception is that high-tech companies spend much more on R&D than lower-tech firms.

High-tech companies invest more of their total income in innovation than their lower-tech counterparts, but the difference in magnitude is not as high as one might think.

One large study of 700 companies cited about 16% compared to 10%. That same study found that the lower-tech companies that spent more on innovation than their competitors that finished less had a 50% higher annual income growth rate.

competitive pressures are driving even lower-tech companies to invest more in innovation.

Technologies team
Technologies team

We’ve been part of many creative, innovative projects for firms that might be considered staid or conservative.

One of our clients, a manufacturer of agricultural products that has been around for nearly 180 years, is not usually thought of as a hotbed of technology innovation.

However, they are working on several breakthrough technology products.

With help from our Embedded Engineering solutions practice, this firm has developed technologies that provide intelligence to the next generation of its farm and all-terrain vehicles.

We’ve collaborated with their team of developers and analysts to create highly sophisticated software that enables intelligent instrumentation and uses touch screen displays to monitor and control equipment affixed to their vehicles.

The software also leverages remote diagnostic communications capabilities to facilitate routine maintenance and systems monitoring.

This company is not an exception or an outlier; many of our “unglamorous” clients are investing in technologies that could rival those found at any of the more colourful high-tech firms.

For some individuals, job satisfaction is another positive aspect of working in technology at a lower-tech company.

Emerging Tech Report 2021
Emerging Tech Report 2021

where do you think you’re more likely to quickly attain authority and influence on technology product design and functionality – at a firm where you’re one of hundreds or even thousands of technologists – or at one where you’re one of a handful?

That’s not a dig at high-tech firms. Many of our clients are some of the largest and most recognizable brands in the technology industry – but some people will find working at a perceived lower-tech company a better fit for their lifestyle and career goals.

Just as you can’t judge a book by its cover. Judging the technological sophistication of the projects and products of lower-tech companies by the markets they serve or their conservative image might lead you to eliminate potentially challenging and rewarding career opportunities.

Remember that just because you can’t bring your dog to work doesn’t mean the result won’t be edgy or invigorating. 

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