With overseas offices in London, New York, Silicon Valley, Singapore, and Dubai, it would be easy for Tigerspike to take its development teams away from the country where it all started for the company, yet it continues to have integrated design and development teams reside in its Australian offices.
The reason, according to Tigerspike’s Asia-Pacific CEO Alex Burke, is the attitude that Australians bring to workplace.
“Australians have a fantastic can-do attitude for technology, so they are people willing to try stuff, and so I think from a technical innovation perspective, it’s been a great breeding ground,” he said.
“From a technical recruitment standpoint, it’s been a fantastic recruiting ground for us. We are supporting Australians going overseas, because we’ve now had 25, maybe more, people that have started in this office and are now working in different markets around the world.
It’s a similar story for the company itself — starting out in Sydney in 2003 and focusing on mobile technology and apps, Tigerspike can now boast of almost 200 employees across seven offices, and can claim Royal Dutch Shell, the US Army, and Al Jazeera as clients.
Oliver Palmer, co-founder and the company’s head of innovation now based out of Singapore, pointed to overseas wage demands and the local education system for retaining an Australian presence.
“It’s the nature of the talent here as well,” he said. “In Singapore, there isn’t the same depth of knowledge from recruits here, I think that’s fair to say.
“The US it is a highly competitive market, in terms of an engineer will get paid almost twice what they will get paid here.”
Palmer said that the style of teaching used in Australia helps Tigerspike’s technical teams create new solutions.
“A lot of the education here is from first principles, so it’s not about understanding how just to make this particular widget and make it 10 times — it’s about a new way of doing something … rather than just throwing your hands up in the air and going, ‘God, I’ve never seen that before, I don’t know what to do!’ Which is what we’ve definitely found in other places,” he said.
“I think that it’s the types of engineers that we bring into the business are really able to see the bigger picture and then apply it for the benefit of our customers, and that’s been huge for us.”
An alternative to having development teams at all, outsourcing, has been tried by the company in the past, and the results were less than impressive.
“Actually, the outsourcing completely failed for us — it was an absolute flop,” said Burke. “And what it proved was that at the end of the day, we don’t see technology as a commodity, we see it as a craft.”
“We’ve tried outsourcing to India and China, and I think that the nature of the business that we are in doesn’t lend itself to outsourcing,” Palmer concurred. “We’re not just reproducing the same thing over and over again.”
Burke claims that the company is unique in being able to offer the different experiences and overseas opportunities to its employees.
“There aren’t many businesses of our size open to that,” he said.
“The way we work, it’s important that we have strong technology teams working with directly our clients, and in that respect, 100 percent, it makes sense for us to have a strong Australian technical team here, and that will continue.”