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Andrew GreensteinMar 30, 2024 4:38:47 AM4 min read

Arvind Jain, Co-Founder and CEO of Glean, on working with technical agencies and the qualities to look for

In the age of "every business is a tech business," hiring and retaining an engineering team is a slog. Technical agencies (aka Dev Shops) are a double-edged sword – good ones can give you access to expertise and engineering firepower and help with technical continuity; bad ones can cause you to spin your engineering wheels while you sink time and money into buggy, UX-killing digital experiences. So, what should be on your radar when considering augmenting your team with an agency?

I asked Silicon Valley veteran, ex-Google Search engineer, and two-time startup founder Arvind Jain on a recent episode of The Next Great Thing podcast. He’s the Co-Founder and CEO of Glean, an AI-powered workplace search assistant. Here’s what he told me:




Listen to the episode on our website, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere you listen to podcasts.




One great thing I learned: Finding the right technical agency partner is equal parts specialized skills and culture fit. 

First, it’s worth taking a quick look at the tech talent landscape. Despite big tech layoffs this year, tech workers remain in demand by startups and large companies alike. Highly skilled senior roles like cybersecurity specialists, system architects, and AI and machine learning specialists are especially sought after. Demand isn’t cooling, either. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that between 2021 and 2031 jobs for software developers will grow by 25% and jobs for data scientists will grow by 35%. 

Demand for tech talent is high, but supply is low. That’s fueling a global tech talent gap, making it tough for companies to find tech workers, especially those with specialized skills. In a recent poll by MIT Technology Review Insights, 64% of global tech leaders say IT and tech job candidates lack the right skills or experience. And 56% say the overall shortage of tech talent is a concern. Other studies corroborate and underscore the tech talent problem:

  • According to a 2023 EY and iMocha survey, 81% of companies are facing a shortage in “power user or developer” tech skills; and 28% of organizations believe that they would need to revamp tech skills for a third of their talent base by 2025 to stay competitive.
  • A 2023 survey by ManpowerGroup found that 76% of employers in the IT and technology sector have difficulty finding the right people with the right skills.
  • A 2021 Gartner survey of IT executives found that 64% believe the tech talent shortage is the biggest barrier to adopting new technologies.


Turns out, investing in building the technology that makes us all more productive is in itself fueling the tech talent demand. EY’s report sums it up: “The realization of increased workforce productivity will require ‘power users’ and ‘power developers’ who use software platforms and AI for designing integrated workflows and running seamless business operations.”

While challenging, the global tech talent shortage is also an opportunity for businesses. It’s a chance for them to be more nimble and strategic in filling specialized technical roles. Often, that means turning to a custom software development partner


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As the owner of a technical agency – and with this landscape top of mind – I asked Arvind his thoughts on partnering with a technical agency. He said he turns to tech agencies when his team needs a person (or many people) with niche technical capabilities for a short period of time — for a 6-month custom software build or re-platforming project, for example. In these instances, partnering with an agency is faster, easier, and more affordable than hiring (and firing) a full-time worker. 

Besides specialized skills, what does Arvind look for in a tech agency partner? Culture fit. Finding the right agency hire is about more than just technical competencies, or even cost. He is drawn to agency partners who ask thoughtful questions about company culture, vision, and values. 

The takeaway? Don’t be discouraged by the tech talent shortage. Turn to a technical agency. It’s a valuable addition to your tech talent toolbox – a smart, efficient, cost-effective way to level up your tech stack and get quick access to the specialized skills your team needs right now. Whether you work at a resource-constrained startup or a large company, adding a tech agency partner to your talent arsenal can complement your in-house tech capabilities with niche skills, like IT staff augmentation on-demand.

But, remember: not all agencies are created equal. Prioritize partners that take the time to understand your culture, values, and vision, and match candidates accordingly. The best tech agencies become trusted advisors who feel like extensions of your team rather than vendors. 

Do you need niche technical skills but lack the time, resources, and budget to build full-time teams around short-term projects? Maybe you’re looking for a tech agency that feels like a seamless extension of your engineering, UX, and product teams. 

If Arvind's advice resonates, let's talk.


Andrew Greenstein

Andrew Greenstein is the CEO and Head of Product at SF AppWorks, an award-winning custom web and mobile design and development agency. He's also the host of The Next Great Thing, a popular technology podcast that explores new digital products and experiences — and conversations with the leaders making them great. For over a decade, Andrew has collaborated with Fortune 500s and startups to design, develop, iterate, and grow custom web, mobile, and software projects that create impact. An expert in lean startup methodology, design thinking, product development, and rapid prototyping, Andrew has partnered with AARP, Humana, West Elm, the Golden Globes, Vanguard, Google, and many others, helping them transform their game-changing ideas from concept to code.