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12 AI

 

As the excitement surrounding artificial intelligence and machine learning continues to ramp up, companies have begun looking to the technology to improve a variety of internal operations and how they interact with customers. However, even the most competent AI has limits. Certain concepts are, at this time, distinctly human, and that means having the right people in your organization is just as critical as ever. Further, an AI is only as strong as the programmer behind the technology, meaning human intelligence will always play a role even when these solutions are put in place.

 

Typically, an AI is designed to handle tasks that require a significant amount of repetition, such as those some workers would even classify as tedious. By allowing such work to be managed by intelligent applications, your workforce can dedicate themselves to tasks that actually require human intelligence to complete. Overall, this approach can increase productivity and efficiency while also improving the bottom line.

 

For example, the use of automated ordering systems and chatbots are often based on the principles above, giving customers the support they need without employees having to be directly involved. AI is also highly valuable in the data analytics field as these systems are better equipped to identify patterns in large datasets than their human counterparts. However, there does come a point where the limits of these technologies are reached, and that’s where people come back into the equation.

When Human Intelligence Trumps AI

An AI can only go as far as the programming allows. That means there will come a point when the technology won’t have access to the data it needs to move beyond a specific limit and human intervention will be required.

 

Further, even the most well-programmed AI won’t be 100 percent accurate in its outputs, especially in areas where correlation does not mean causation. This means employees are still critical for vetting what an AI produces, ensuring that conclusions aren’t drawn based on faulty assumptions on the part of the system.

Emotional Context

In cases where AIs interact with customers, it is important to understand that a program isn’t capable of understanding all of the nuances of human emotion and interaction. For example, a system cannot exhibit true empathy or possess compassionate understanding. When interacting with customers, both of these shortcomings can be problematic, so having the option to fail over to a person is critical.

The Bottom Line

While AI is undoubtedly changing how business is conducted and even how people manage their personal lives, the technology as it stands can’t fully replicate the human-to-human experience. They can only function within the limits of their programming and, while those borders are sure to expand with time, that means human intelligence is still a vital part of any solution, including those using AI.

 

If you are interested in locating IT professionals to help bring AI into your workplace through their unique experience and intelligence, The Armada Group can connect you with some of the best and brightest working in the field. Contact us to see how our expertise can help you find your ideal candidate.

 

Wednesday, Jun 21 2017

Is Tech Burnout the New Normal?

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9 Burnout

 

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.

Support Downtime

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.

Express Appreciation

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.

 

5 CEO

 

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.

 

4 Automation Engineer

 

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.

Foundational Education

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.

 

Friday, Jun 02 2017

Future-Proof Your Company Today

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1 Future

 

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.

Strong Leadership

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.

Positive Culture

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.

Respectable Values

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.

Embracing Technology

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.

 

CIO Role

 

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.

As-a-Service Options

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.