The software industry continues to move fast. Every year, there are new platforms, new languages, and new libraries. These improvements mean your customers have new expectations. You’re deceiving yourself if you don’t think those announcements directly affect your business. The rapid pace of change is pervasive in the software business, and how one respond to these changes is a very important factor on the success of their business.

The best developers know that this industry moves fast. They know that today’s cutting edge is tomorrow’s mainstream. Today’s mainstream is tomorrow’s legacy technology. To fall behind is to become unemployable.

You may not be familiar with these announcements, such as changes to iOS or ASP.NET, or their implications. But technical talent is watching. These are the best developers in your organization, and the best of the talent pool you hope to hire. These people are evaluating your company, at least in part, on how you react to changes in the software development industry. Your recruiting and retention efforts will suffer if their opinion of your company is one that won’t adapt to technology changes. You’ll be labeled as a company with “legacy products” that are ripe for disruption and obsolescence.

The reaction of too many managers is a self-defeating one: They believe their developers only want to play with the latest advances to pad their resumes and move on. They refuse to enlist their own people to evaluate and plan migration and technology strategy. These companies are on the slow slide to irrelevance. They lose the developers that want to invest in the future, the ones that want their employer to stay abreast of change. They retain only those developers happy to do what’s always been done.

Smart companies avoid this fate, gain cost savings, and stay ahead of the competition by investing in the tech talent they already have.

Your technology experts want to know about the next big thing. More importantly, they want your company to be part of it. Understanding how to capitalize on the next big thing requires knowledge of your market, your product, and the technology industry. The people best equipped to help you in those tech decisions are your own staff. Empowering them to learn the tools they believe should be a big part of your future offers several benefits: It builds your brand as an employer of choice. It gives you more people able to give input for important strategy decisions. It helps in your recruiting efforts. Your developers can be out in the community talking up the way your company is investigating the greatest new technology.

It may seem expensive and wasteful to let your employees create their own path forward in technology. Your best employees will do so whether you empower them or not. The best companies do empower their employees’ growth.

Bill Wagner is a regional director for Microsoft, and works with the Humanitarian Toolbox to create software that supports disaster relief efforts in times of natural disasters.

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