Many businesses are in the position of having to push their tech teams harder than ever thanks to low unemployment among IT professionals and an increasing dependence on technology. As the pressure placed on these workers mount, carrying such a heavy burden often takes a toll on morale and puts many at risk of reach full-blown burnout.
Tech employees have found themselves working longer hours to ensure critical tasks are completed in a timely fashion. If a pattern of extra hours develops, members of the IT teams may find themselves growing resentful and battling exhaustion, causing job satisfaction and productivity both to plummet.
Even as many IT departments face the challenges associated with being short staffed, that doesn’t mean burnout has to be the new norm for these skilled professionals. Here are some methods you can begin using today to keep your tech talent working at their best even during challenging times.
Make Accurate Time Tracking a Priority
A recent poll of tech professionals suggests that more than 20 percent of your IT workforce might be underreporting the number of hours they work. This means management could be unaware of growing problems in the department while also making it difficult for them to properly allocate vital resources and personnel to alleviate the strain. By making time tracking a priority, leadership knows how much time workers are spending doing critical tasks, allowing you to intervene in the most effective way when the opportunity to rebalance the workload arises.
When workers are trying to do more with less, many feel pressured to maintain an “always on” lifestyle, sacrificing personal time and skipping vacation to meet workplace objectives. In some cases, workers take this stance even if it isn’t a spoken requirement, believing that management expects them to dedicate every possible hour to the job. And, the longer they maintain this work style, the easier it is to reach burnout.
To combat the feeling of always being on the clock, make sure your team understands the company understands their need for downtime. Consider placing limits on the use of technology after hours, allowing your workers to set down the constant connection to email and other work tasks. Additionally, make sure there isn’t a stigma associated with taking paid time off so your employees can feel secure whenever they need to take a break.
When your staff is burning the candle at both ends, taking the time to acknowledge their hard work and dedication can have a significant impact on morale. Make sure recognition is part of your company’s culture by encouraging managers to show appreciation for the work being completed and by arranging some larger recognition events to show your staff they contributions are valued. Everything from a sincere “thank you” to a formal employee appreciation day can go a long way when it comes to fighting burnout among your ranks, and they are often easy to implement in any environment.
By using some of the recommendations above, you can help keep your employees happy even if there is an occasional demand for extra hours. If you would like to alleviate the strain on your IT department by bringing in additional skilled professionals, The Armada Group can connect you with some of today’s top talent. Contact us to see how our services can help you bring in the right tech pros to improve the performance and morale of your team today.
In most cases, you can’t start a project without the backing of the powers that be, including the CEO. This normally means you need to formulate a method for getting everyone on board and, if your CEO or other members of management aren’t particularly tech-oriented, that can be a feat on its own. To help you explain your next big data project to those who must buy off, here are some tips for managing those conversations.
Make the Value Clear with a Small Pilot
Your first step to getting your CEO on board might not be to craft a strong pitch; it could be running a small-scale trial. Beginning with a pilot gives you the ability to confirm the project holds quantifiable value while also giving you concrete evidence to support the endeavor. Aim to demonstrate how the project will be beneficial in a monetary context, such as how it can increase revenues or lower operating costs.
In the end, this approach gives you something clear you can bring to the CEO and serves as an indication to how the project can help the bottom line.
Set Up a Demo
If your CEO isn’t as comfortable with big data technology, setting up a demo of the technology can help bridge any gaps in understanding. Explain the steps in plain English and let them experience how the solution works in real-time. The purpose of this approach is to increase their comfort with the project while simultaneously affirming your competency. A well-managed demo can build trust between you and management, making it easier to secure that ever-important buy off.
Keep Them Apprised of Your Progress
Often, you’ll need to reconfirm your CEO’s support throughout the project, especially if it will be a long-term endeavor. By keeping leadership in the loop as you make progress, you increase their understanding of the project through transparency. It also gives management a chance to provide input, allowing them to be involved at critical junctures and making it easier for them to support any additional requests that may arise as things move forward.
It isn’t uncommon for certain areas of IT to feel a bit like a mystery to members of leadership who don’t have experience in the field, especially when it comes to relatively new specialties like big data analytics. By making the technology feel accessible and demonstrating the benefits clearly, you can increase their comfort level with the project while increasing their trust in you. Just remember to keep the CEO updated and engaged as the project moves forward, and aim to be completely transparent regarding your progress. Then, you may find it is easier to secure the buy offs you need to keep your big data project going.
If you are interested in learning more about getting your CEO on board with your project or need a new IT employee to join your team, The Armada Group can help. Contact us today to put your knowledge to work for you.
As technology becomes increasingly relevant in almost every industry, opportunities to explore new career paths and specialties continue to arise. For job seekers interested in finding lucrative opportunities in a field that involves advanced machinery and has significant potential for growth, choosing a role as an automation engineer may be the ideal move.
The Role of Automation Engineers
At its core, automation involves using technologies to control and monitor mechanical operations and computer-based processes. Automation engineers are responsible designing, programming, and testing the associated procedures to ensure highly precise results in complex operations, such as those performed by robots in various manufacturing environments. These roles are relevant at every stage, from prototype to full implementation, as well as ongoing maintenance and updates on existing systems, making them critical roles in large portions of the production industry.
For those interested in a career as an automation engineer, a few educational routes are available. As the demand for these skilled professionals has increased, many community and technical colleges have created programs to provide students with the necessary skills to enter the field. This approach can be ideal for individuals looking to find their first career as many of these can be completed in as little as two years.
Another path for becoming an automation engineer typically involves a bachelor’s degree in a supporting field like robotics, electrical engineering, or mechanical engineering. Often, supportive coursework includes topics like statistics, computer database management, fluid dynamics, and programming languages.
After gaining a strong academic foundation, the rest of the required training is typically earned on-the-job, as a hands-on approach is often the best way to learn the necessary skills.
Certification and Licensing
While obtaining a certification or license isn’t necessarily required to work in the field, it can increase your long-term career prospects. An organization that specializes in certifying professionals working as automation engineers to the International Society of Automation, a nonprofit professional association recognized for setting standards of competency among automation professionals.
One of the more popular options for the field of automation engineering is the control system engineer license. This credential demonstrates your understanding of relevant areas including instrumentation and automated controls and may help you qualify for higher paying positions in the field.
Becoming a certified control systems technician can also make you eligible for more opportunities as this credential is recognized by over 40 organizations that hire professionals in the automation engineering field.
Career Potential as an Automation Engineer
As manufacturing and production operations become increasingly automated, automation engineers are seeing demand for their skills rise. Depending on your skills level, competitive annual salaries can reach well into six-figure territory, making it a strong and lucrative career option for those interested in technology.
If you are interested in pursuing a career as an automation engineer, the skilled team at The Armada Group can help you get on your way. Contact us to discuss your goals today.
The world of business is always changing regardless of your industry. While most companies are aware that some shifts are inevitable, not every organization takes steps to position themselves to adapt to what the future may hold. As new technologies are introduced and current solutions receive updates, how business operations are managed can become fundamentally different. And failing to keep pace puts the long-term success of the organization at risk. If your goal is to future-proof your company, here are some key factors to reaching that goal.
You don’t typically hear of a successful business being run by subpar leadership. Often, having the right people in upper management is vital to the longevity of any company. Strong leaders are able to create a cohesive vision for the organization’s future while remaining open to change and focusing on adaptability. If the leaders aren’t willing to embrace innovation and monitor current trends to shape future actions, any business could see itself struggling to make it to tomorrow.
Job seekers are placing more importance on company culture than ever before, making it critical for businesses to work at developing one that is seen as positive and supportive. Corporate cultures are also indications regarding how an organization manages the business as a whole. Allowing a toxic environment to take hold suggests the company isn’t prepared to adapt when necessary, which can be seen as a negative by employees and customers. Not managing the culture in your workplace puts your business at risk, so it is critical to take action to keep your culture favorable.
Having a well-defined mission and values statement can also help attract quality employees as it can be a major source of motivation. It also gives your local community an idea as to how the business operates based on what it perceives as important. Without strong values, it’s difficult to garner support internally and externally, making it harder to achieve long-term success.
Focus on Relationships
Even though social media has given companies more options for connecting with their customers, many businesses fail to use these tools to build relationships. Interacting with your client base in a real and genuine way can increase loyalty, creating a more sustainable model. It also gives you access to direct feedback from those who purchase your products or services. Together, these facts make relationships a vital component for future-proofing your business.
By being open to new technologies, companies position themselves to take advantage of emerging approaches that can increase productivity and overall efficiency, giving the company a potential advantage over competitors who aren’t as quick to adapt. It can also alleviate stress placed on employees by giving them options to complete their work with greater ease, even paving the way for increased job satisfaction and improving retention efforts.
If you are looking for top IT candidates to help your business move forward with the latest technological advances, the recruitment professionals at The Armada Group have the required experience to find today’s best and brightest job candidates. Contact us today to see how our customized approach can support your business.
It wasn’t long ago that CIOs weren’t involved in product development until the produce was nearing completion. IT teams would get involved once the majority of the development steps were completed, connecting the product to the required internal and external systems to support sales and fulfillment goals while providing insight based on their technical expertise.
As products become more integrated with enterprise systems more quickly during the product development process, CIOs have to get involved earlier than ever before. This does not only ensure the project's ultimate success but to be a resource as development efforts proceed. To provide a higher level understanding of how upcoming trends are impacting the CIO role, here is an overview of what to expect.
Increased Use of Software
Software has become a key component in more products over recent years, providing key controls and defining operations. Any product that uses software at its core requires CIOs to determine the proper allocation of human capital to support development efforts early in the process and can increase the demand for new talent capable of furthering the goals of the project. As Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and DevOps tools become critical for more product development efforts, the involvement of technical professionals will continue to grow.
When a product with software-oriented operations starts the development process, CIOs will also be tasked with providing input during planning stages as well. Evaluating potential features, technological capabilities, and potential future developments will fall clearly in the hand if IT departments, as well as helping to establish project timelines based on the requirements created for the project.
Elevated Back Office Connectivity
As products become more connected, back office operations will experience increased workloads based on the need for enterprise integration. The user experience is often improved during these implementations, but require greater involvement from IT professionals working for the organization to support value-adding functions like real-time reporting, configuration monitoring, remote adjustment capabilities, and automatic updates.
Since tech employees will be expected to support the product during and after development, it is critical that CIOs become involved in processes for creating and identifying requirements. Additionally, they will need to work closely with their staff to ensure all internal systems are properly prepared and the support personnel are apprised regarding their duties.
CIOs need to be aware of current and upcoming As-a-Service offerings as a method for supporting internal operations. As IT staff members become more involved in product development, As-a-Service solutions can reduce the strain on internal employees, allowing them to focus on core goals instead of tasks that may otherwise seem tedious or low priority. This ensures other operations continue as needed without hindering product development efforts designed to further larger business objectives.
These growing trends have CIOs entering the product development arena earlier than ever before, but having the right employees in place can help alleviate the strain associated with these changes, allowing your business to proceed with ease. If you are looking for skilled tech professionals to help keep your department on track, The Armada Group can alleviate the stress associated with finding the right candidates. Contact us today to see how our services can support your company’s product development goals.
When companies think of digital disruption, they often focus on the businesses that used technology to change a notable paradigm within the business world. How Amazon changed retail, Netflix changed retails, and Uber changed transportation are all examples of digital disruptions in their respective sectors, with their development fundamentally changing how business is done.
But digital disruption isn’t limited to companies that change the game. Any technology that enters the world and affects how goods and services are produced or delivered can qualify. For example, the prevalence of mobile technology, the rise of IoT, and the increase of cloud services are all digital disrupters that provide value to businesses operating in almost every sector. And they are often critical for growth.
New Operational Models
Digital disruptions often force companies to update their operational models to stay competitive. But, along the way, they allow businesses to have opportunities to become more efficient. For example, mobile devices have changed how people work and how consumers shop. While adapting to the new technology required significant process changes, the result provides opportunities for increased productivity and higher sales.
As a new technology enters the market, it allows companies to refocus. They can take advantage of what the tech provides to improve operations and reduce costs. Then, the business can reinvest in areas critical to their development.
Developments in IoT have exposed companies to more data than ever before, and that means increased opportunities to capitalize on the information. Add to that advances in big data and analytics, and businesses can find answers to questions that may have seemed impossible to answer even a few years before.
The ability to learn about how customers think and buy, or how operations are completed during production, give organizations a chance to adjust more quickly than previously. Real-time information can provide feedback in a way that supports immediate action, making businesses more nimble within their market space or in how they do business.
Proper Management is Required
To make digital disruptions work for your business, it is important to view them as opportunities worth exploring and not just challenges that must be dealt with. Consider how these technologies can improve your operations and see if it make sense to integrate them into your workplace.
If you are looking for IT professionals that can help you take advantage of everything today’s digital disruptions have to offer, the recruitment experts at The Armada Group can help you find the right candidates based on your hiring goals. Contact us to see how highly skilled workers can help you keep pace with today’s advancements.
Even as rising technologies associated with big data and IoT dominate discussions regarding hard data is managed, MySQL professionals are still critical for many organizations. In many cases, new skill sets are designed to supplement MySQL where it is in use, and aren’t intended to replace the system. With that in mind, pursuing a career as a MySQL DBA can lead to strong job opportunities even as the use of data continues to grow and change. And here’s why.
MySQL is Cost-Effective
Managing expenses is always a priority in business, and MySQL is a solution that meets those goals. The open source solution often features low licensing costs, making it easy for businesses to fit into their IT budgets. Additionally, the cost of ownership is similarly low.
But the low cost doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful. It’s high speed and superior reliability makes it a particularly good choice for industries that need to limit downtime. And that means professionals familiar with the system as still very much a hot commodity in today’s market.
It’s Used by Top Companies
MySQL has a prominent role in many top companies. In fact, it is a preferred choice for many businesses, especially those focused on Web 2.0, SaaS, ISV, and Telecommunications. The high amount of reliability is critical for companies operating in these areas, as downtime due to failures, maintenance, administration, or other tasks is practically unacceptable in the eyes of consumers. The system uses master-slave configurations coupled with cluster servers to provide uninterrupted access, making it an ideal selection for businesses that need to remain accessible at all times.
One of the biggest benefits of MySQL is its high level of flexibility. The solution is highly scalable and can be customized to meet the unique needs of individual businesses. It provides a solid platform for large enterprises who need to integrate various features and functions within their database servers, and can easily be expanded when business needs change.
As companies continue to acquire large amounts of data, having a solution that can grow quickly is a boon. And that means skilled professionals are needed to make that happen whenever the need arises.
In the end, MySQL is seen as efficient, cost-effective, and reliable, all of which are highly valued by a range or organizations. Professionals with the skills to support MySQL will remain in high demand even as other data-oriented technologies enter the workplace, as few options have the ability to beat MySQL in these key areas.
If you are interested in a career as a MySQL DBA or other opportunities in IT, the professional recruiters at The Armada Group can match you to relevant positions in your area. Contact us today to see how MySQL skills can help further your career.
With high-profile cyberattacks being a regular part of the news, most companies understand that anyone could be at risk. However, even with that knowledge, many businesses are ill-equipped in areas like intrusion detection and threat response. This means there is a significant lag between when an attack takes place and when it is finally discovered.
There are methods that can help you become the kind of cyber security guard a company needs to manage these threats more effectively. To help you become the strongest asset in the area of cyber security, here are key points on which to concentrate.
Gather the Data
To be better prepared to manage new attacks, it is important to understand where current vulnerabilities lie. This involves examining threat vectors and potential points of access within a system. Additionally, you need information about previous attacks, both successful and those that were thwarted, to understand what has worked in the past and what hasn’t. Many attackers use common backdoors to access systems. By understanding which tools and systems have been used in the past, you can attempt to profile potential risks in the future.
Often, this information is available within proxy logs and antivirus logs, if not in a larger Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solution. While the majority of the data will need to be pulled away to eliminate any noise, the remaining data can create a list of activities that serve as warning signs for other malicious behavior.
Identify Suspicious Activity
Certain patterns within the data could be a sign of trouble. For example, if a particular network connection shows a recurring pattern of bytes in and bytes out on a regular basis, this could be a sign of suspicious activity. Similarly, odd occurrences within endpoints visiting certain sites could also be cause for concern.
If you see a cluster of failed login attempts, this could be a sign of a brute force attack. Additionally, single failed login attempts across multiple accounts could suggest a previously extracted password list is being tested to see if any of the acquired passwords is still valid within the system.
Other signs of trouble can be unexpected privilege changes on user accounts, or the use of alternate credentials on a user’s system. While these could be signs of other authorized activity by internal admins, it is important to review them, should an unexpected pattern be observed.
Watch for Malicious Programs
The detection of any password dumping or dropper programs is always cause for concern. In some cases, threats will run a password dumper, have it detected and removed, only to execute another that ultimately goes unseen. Seeing that one was previously detected means care should be taken to determine if others may be in play.
Similarly, dropper programs may be detected and removed after something malicious has been left behind. If one is spotted, it is important to examine the infected OS in-depth in case something is still sitting on the machine that has yet to initiate.
New threats are formed seemingly on a daily basis. That means your best form of defense is to stay up to date on the latest trends, technologies and techniques in play. If you are interested in broadening your experience by finding a new position, The Armada Group can help you explore new opportunities in the cyber security field. Contact us and see what a new job may have to offer your career.
Google has taken a strong stance against online harassment, leading to the development and release of its latest tool: Perspective. But how does this new tool help shut down trolls before they can do real harm? By bringing machine learning into the battle.
Perspective is designed to review comments left by users on sites using the technology. As it does, each one is rated based on how potentially toxic the comment is to the larger discussion. The model was trained using hundreds of thousands of comments that were deemed toxic by people who viewed them, creating a framework for the operation.
Language and Context
The Perspective API is an offering from Google’s Jigsaw division, a group that increased its efforts in the troll-fighting arena in late 2016. The hope is to create solutions that understand the nuances of human language to identify abusive comments.
In its current iteration, Perspective is able to detect insults and potentially harassing comments based on word choice and overall comment construction. Once detected, the comment is scored based on its perceived threat level, often yielding results with higher levels of accuracy than traditional keyword blacklists and with a speed that far outperforms a traditional human moderator.
Goals of Perspective
The goal behind Google’s Perspective is to prevent the posting of potentially harmful comments, at least until they can be reviewed by a site admin or other moderating authority. Comments containing potentially inappropriate content can be flagged for review or removed until they have been specifically approved for display. This can help sites take greater control over the conversations if the content of a message appears to be harmful to their readership.
The Perspective API also provides value on the user end. In some cases, a comment can be reviewed before posting, alerting the commenter to the potentially toxic language before they even submit it to the conversation. Another application involves allowing readers to sort comments based on their potential level of toxicity, helping viewers to avoid potentially harassing comments in cases where they aren’t automatically removed.
There is some concern that solutions like Perspective could be used to censor comments instead of simply creating a safe space for participants. For example, quotes from people involved in current new stories could be automatically removed should the words be considered potentially abusive, even though the discussion is focused on a story about their use. Additionally, it could allow a site to remove comments that don’t speak to their point of view regardless of whether the language or tone is appropriate, limiting free discussion about topics that may be controversial in nature.
However, some point out that the use of blacklists can also yield similar results, especially since they are incapable of adjusting for context. Additionally, Perspective is intended to be a step in the comment moderation process and not the sole determining factor in what should be removed and what should stay.
Ultimately, Perspective is a tool designed to help moderators maintain control over potential harassment more effectively than currently available solutions. Only time will tell if the efforts actually yield positive results.
If you are interested in learning more about today’s technology developments, are looking for a new job in an IT field, or need to find top tech candidates for an open position, The Armada Group can help you on your way. Contact us to speak with a recruitment professional about your needs today.
Chatbots charged into the spotlight on the heels of artificial intelligence. They stood as an innovation within the customer service sector, providing simple interfaces for users to get the information they need without having to interact with a person. While the use of similar systems had been in place for some time, operating based on the abilities of language processing engines, chatbots took it a step further by allowing for additional depth within the conversation.
But the complexity of setting up these systems left many programs feeling clunky, and some were even considered practically useless. Additionally, chatbots could be taxing on a user’s system and provided little value when answering questions that could just as easily be looked up through a search engine or asked via an app.
News about chatbots has slowed since the later part of 2016, leaving many to wonder whether they would still play a role in today’s ever-evolving tech landscape. With that in mind, here are some challenges chatbots need to overcome to be considered valuable to users both today and tomorrow.
From a user perspective, interacting with a chatbot often adds a layer of complexity when seeking answers to questions instead of lowering them. For example, if a user wants to get information about the weather, it is much easier to open a weather app than use a bot, especially when you factor in the learning curve associated with interacting with a chatbot. Even if a user has a more complex question in mind, it is still simpler to input a question into a search engine that use a bot to dig for the information.
Accessing specific apps to get to certain information has become the societal norm. And, unless the chatbot has something more to offer, it isn’t a habit that will be easily broken. For example, systems like Amazon’s Echo allow users to interact quickly with simple questions and commands. The interface makes what was once a multistep process a single voice command. Instead of having to open a music app, search for a channel, and select it, you simply tell the system to play your chosen station. If a chatbot can’t eliminate steps between the user and their goals, then the old process will reign.
Further, the amount of effort required on the developer side is daunting. Many bot frameworks leave a lot of the design in the hands of various tech specialists. It relies highly on a company’s ability to predict how a user will interact with the service, leaving a significant amount of space for errors through incidental omission.
Much of the appeal of chatbots is from a business perspective. Being able to automate basic customer interactions for common issues would be a high-value development. However, many bots lack the necessary accuracy to ensure these interactions run smoothly, risking customer satisfaction in the process and potentially causing a loss of a customer along the way.
When examined for business communications, an issue with accuracy makes the solutions a non-start. While losing a customer on the B2C side is frustrating, losing one during a B2B interaction can be catastrophic. Errors related to bots are simply intolerable at this level, preventing most companies from even considering them as a solution.
While chatbots lack a certain level of sophistication, the potential for growth is there. Much of what will make them a success is finding the right problem for which they can be an ideal solution. Over time, as accuracy improves, their use in business may outweigh their potential for customers, especially when customers prioritize speed when asking simple questions.
Will 2017 be a big year for bots? Not likely. But the potential is there for those who truly want to solve the issues mentioned above for great developments in the future.
If you are interested in learning more about how tech will change in 2017 and what employees should be a priority, The Armada Group has the industry expertise you need to get ahead. Contact us today and see how you can better position your business to excel this year and beyond.