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Blockchain has garnered a lot of attention thanks to its association with cryptocurrencies, especially bitcoin. The solution allows transactions to be tracked in a new way, using an approach that many consider more secure than many other options available today, increasing interest in the technology and how it can benefit a number of industries.


Since blockchain is relatively new, many companies have just begun exploring how they can benefit from the technology, particularly when it comes to ensuring transactions and data exchanges are more secure. If you are wondering how you can get your start in blockchain, here’s what you need to know.


The Appeal of Blockchain

As mentioned above, most people associate blockchain with cryptocurrency, though its potential stretches well beyond that role. As a mechanism, blockchain increases accountability and security related to various transactions or information exchanges, including contract signings, while also reducing error rates.


Generally, blockchain is prized for its ability to verify a transaction’s validity. Blockchain records cannot be altered after the fact, and all transactions can be published to shared ledgers, allowing trusted involved parties to easily review details while maintaining a suitable level of access control.


It also offers companies a way to increase the speed at which transactions can be completed while also providing a method for substantial cost-savings, as blockchain eliminates the need for intermediaries, such as banks or government agencies, to be involved in the execution of an agreement.



Blockchain for Business

As of today, “blockchain-as-a-service” isn’t a common offering, so some businesses have struggled to find an entry point to begin using the technology. However, two tech giants have embraced the concept, giving organizations a way to get started with relative ease.


Microsoft has provided blockchain tools into Azure, its popular cloud services offering. In just five simple steps, you can get started with blockchain through Azure through the “labs” profile. This gives you a relatively quick way to create a blockchain instance, opening the doorway to the larger world associated with the technology.


IBM also has a solution that includes a little more polish than Microsoft’s offering thanks o the ability to not just create a blockchain instance, but satellite features as well. Along with the developer environment, chaincodes and contracts can be generated through IBM Blockchain. The solution is also interoperable with Hyperledger Composer, a Linux Foundation offering. Through IBM Blockchain, it is possible to do anything from create a single blockchain application to building an entire network.


Over time, additional options for bringing blockchain into business will certainly arise, including possible “as-a-service” providers who can make the technology more accessible, though gaining an understanding of what blockchain can do now is indeed a worthwhile venture.


If you are interested in learning more, need a blockchain professional to join your staff, or are looking for a blockchain developer position, the knowledgeable team at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our specialists today and see how our services can benefit you.



Java 9


Java remains one of the most popular programming languages, so many professionals who develop with the language need to stay on top any changes that occur. Java 9, which was released in September 2017, does have some notable shifts, even when compared to its predecessor, Java 8.


To help you stay up to date, here’s what you need to know about Java 9.


Say Hello to Modules

While Java 8 was all about lambdas, Java 9 is essentially focused on modularity, or Java Platform Modules.


Modules reflect a new way of building and deploying software, which brings certain benefits, like helping developers create software with a better underlying architecture and a smaller runtime footprint.


However, like any technological change, there are some challenges. For example, migrating a project from Java 8 to Java 9 does involve a few hurdles, such as the changes to the behavior of the “public” keyword.


In Java 9, if a class is not included in the module API, including public methods, then it cannot be called in the software. Further, reflection and method handles provide little help, as these calls can also be prevented based on the new runtime. This can result in an “illegal access” error, which is likely to be present in any migrated project.



A Series of Upgrades and Retests

Based on the arrival of modules, changes to items may be required. For example, particular major libraries must be upgraded to function properly with Java 9, leading to the issue commonly referred to as the “library lockstep” problem. Since multiple upgrades are involved, specific applications being transitioned to Java 9 may require a full retest, and remediation work will likely be a necessity along the way.


Additionally, not everything in Java 9 is backward-compatible. This means certain classes for Java 9 features will have to be addressed, typically by shipping a jar, if the software also needs to work on Java 8. “Multi-release jars” allows a multi-release flag to be set, giving the runtime the ability to include version-specific paths for the classpath resolution. Since the flag isn’t known by Java 8, the system ignores it, keeping the versioned directories from being involved.


Ultimately, Java 9 represents a modernization of the language through its use of modules, allowing developers to craft apps with well-built architectures. However, the changes do have a learning curve associated with them, so not every team or project will automatically see the benefit in the update immediately.


However, familiarizing yourself with Java 9 now allows you to prepare for the future of Java development, ensuring your skill set remains on the cutting edge.


If you are interested in finding a new position as a Java developer, the professionals at The Armada Group can assist you by connecting you with opportunities throughout the area. Contact us today to speak with a member of our knowledgeable staff and see how our services can help you advance in your Java career.



Career in Data Analytics


As more companies look to leverage their data, a career in data analytics becomes more enticing. Data allows businesses to make smarter decisions, making it particularly powerful in today’s marketplace. But there’s more to data analytics than meets the eye, and professionals must have a strong skill set to be successful in the field. If you are considering a career in data analytics, here’s what you need to know.


A Forward-Thinking Perspective

Before, analyzing data was something companies did to take a look back, giving them an avenue for examining past decisions. Now, data analytics is generally viewed as a forward-thinking pursuit, allowing businesses to make smarter decisions today in hopes of securing a better tomorrow.


While this doesn’t necessarily innately affect how the work is done, it does demonstrate the kind of perspective successful professionals in the field must maintain. This means that assisting with future growth and profitability is a large driver for many people working in these positions, reflecting the mission of many of these roles.


It’s More Than Just Numbers on Screens

While the work is predominately computer-based, that doesn’t mean it is relegated to working with existing software. A lot of creation can occur in a data analytics role, including possibly working on devices designed to help capture valuable data.


For many people, this means that a career in data analytics can involve exciting tasks beyond reviewing information for insights, as improvements in how data is collected can be incredibly valuable to companies and rewarding to those who work on the projects.



People Matter

Many people assume that data analytics derives its value from software outputs, with the human element being secondary. However, professionals in the field generally discover that their skills and input play a substantial role in the success of data-oriented projects and goals.


While a system may provide outputs, data analysts are often responsible for giving the data meaning and assisting with the decision-making process, and that is a role that should never be downplayed. Even if you aren’t in a position to make large-scale decisions personally, your work guides those who are making those calls, allowing you to be a big part of instituting change within the organization and beyond.


Beyond Technical Skills

Having the technical know-how to perform in a data analytics position is obviously essential, but other skills are just as vital. Having a strong understanding of business terms, particularly those related to your company’s industry, is also incredibly valuable, as well as the nuances of how the business operates.


Communication skills are also highly coveted, as you’ll often need to relay complex information to stakeholders who aren’t as well-versed in the technical side of things. Additionally, teamwork skills are crucial, as most people in the data analytics field work closely with others.


If you are interested in pursuing or furthering a career in data analytics in 2018, the professionals at The Armada Group can connect you with some of the area’s most in-demand employers. Contact us today to see how our services can help you take the next step.



Wednesday, Jan 10 2018

Will Your Job Survive AI?

Written by

Survive AI


Many people are concerned about how AI will affect their job or career. While the technology is predicted to eliminate 1.8 million jobs by 2020, it should also create 2.3 million new positions, which actually leads to a net gain.


However, how it will affect you largely depends on the role you hold and current skill set, and nearly everyone should expect to experience some change to how their tasks are performed as AI becomes more prevalent. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about how AI could affect you.


Tech Will Experience Sweeping Change

One of the industries that will be most affected by AI is the one that created it: tech. AI platforms are poised to take over a variety of tasks, such as security monitoring, data analysis, and even low-level programming. This eliminates the need for people to manage repetitive and tedious tasks, allowing them to focus on other pursuits.


It is also possible that AI will limit the need for middle managers as these systems could be adapted to handle tasks associated with resource allocation. Likely, adjustments in this arena will be slow, as companies may be hesitant to rid themselves of middle managers until the technology is proven to be effective.


However, that doesn’t mean that your position will be eliminated. Instead, managers are taking advantage of these advances by refocusing their workers’ priorities, using the technology instead to augment the activities of employees and not simply replace them.


Currently, AI isn’t capable of certain functions, especially those associated with understanding the context surrounding a problem, and not just the data being presented. Additionally, creative pursuits aren’t easily replicated by technology yet, leaving those tasks firmly in the hands of professionals.



New Opportunities

At this point, an AI is not a self-sustaining entity. These solutions require skilled professionals to be implemented, programmed, and supported, creating a range of job opportunities that weren’t previously present in the field.


For professionals interested in working with the technology, having the right skill set is imperative. This can include commonly used programming languages, like Python and R, as well as an understanding of data analytics. Some tech workers may be able to gain these skills on the job, while others may need to pursue additional education.


By understanding how the technology may impact your job, you can make smart decisions about the direction of your career, allowing you to position yourself to take advantage of the emergence of AI instead of becoming a victim of it.


If you are interested in learning more or are seeking a new tech position, the team at The Armada Group can help you evaluate your options and choose a direction that will allow you to meet your goals. Contact us today to see how our services can assist you as you navigate the changing tech landscape to find a new role.



Less Productive


In today’s digital age, it’s easy to assume that technology is designed to make our lives easier. It provides us with access to a substantial amount of information, regardless of where we go, and often helps us stay connected to both our familial and professional networks, making the devices feel invaluable.


But, depending on how you use it throughout the day, your favorite device may actually be harming your productivity more than it is helping. Since most professionals are diligently striving to balance complex work and home obligations, it’s crucial that your technology work for you instead of against you. Here’s what you need to know.


Notifications are Distracting You

Be it on a smartphone or computer, when a notification pops up, most people take a moment to see what it’s all about. This can pull us away from the tasks or activities we are participating in, regardless of whether they are professional or personal.


Instead of letting your notifications distract you, turn them off when you need to focus. This can include eliminating those associated with an incoming email, social media post, news alerts, or text message as well as apps that aren’t related to your current activities, like restaurant deals or coupon sites.


In most cases, it isn’t an emergency, and the message behind the notification can easily wait for an hour or two. If you're concerned about missing something critical, inform coworkers, managers, and family members about your intention to be less distracted by notifications, and request they contact you via other means, such as a phone call, if your immediate attention is actually required.


Be Free from Newsletters

A lot of professionals struggle to keep control of the email inbox, especially since every time you sign up for a website or app your usually automatically enrolled in a variety of newsletters. To help you save time, consider unsubscribing from every newsletter that doesn’t provide you with value, including sales flyers from retailers and restaurants.


Generally, the information is also accessible through the website, so you can always look it up when you need it. And freeing yourself from the daily email onslaught can be liberating, so it’s worth the effort.


Up Your Communication Skills

Text messaging and social media often promote the use of shorthand and quick statements to get your point across. But, at work, you may need to work harder to communicate effectively in writing.


Some of the quick responses we’ve grown accustomed to in text messages aren’t sufficient enough for workplace problems, often coming off as ambiguous or even dismissive. Instead of relying on these short messages, take the time to be thorough, yet concise. This eliminates an unnecessary back and forth triggered when the recipient of your message needs additional clarification while also ensuring you aren’t crafting a message that is longer than required.


Ultimately, the approach will save both you and them a substantial amount of time and the additional effort will be appreciated.


If you would like to learn more or are working to hire a new employee, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today to see how our flexible approach can work for you.




Social Media Channels


Many businesses still struggle when it comes to maximizing the benefits associated with social media. While many companies have prioritized it as a tool for marketing, its ability to provide you with valuable data shouldn’t be ignored. Often, simply collecting all of that information isn’t easy, let alone benefiting from the insights. Add to that the demands of content management, and it’s no wonder companies feel overwhelmed. However, by unifying your social media channels into a single data repository under one ID, you can position your organization for success. Here’s what you need to know.


Simplified Management

By unifying your channels, you are giving yourself an opportunity to simplify the management of your accounts. For example, you can have the user IDs unified into a single user ID (SID) so that you can access all of your social media accounts through a single login.


Additionally, you can determine precisely what information should be shared through your channels, set privacy controls, and even decide which content you want brought into data repositories. This streamlines your efforts by providing you with the additional level of control you need, while limiting the amount of hands-on work that is required to get the job done.


Cloud-Based Solution

Often, one of the biggest concerns about data management is focused on storage. The unified options usually implement a cloud-based data repository, ensuring you don’t have to dedicate internal resources to the task and providing you with a level of scalability. Additionally, the data is highly accessible, making it a strong option for distributed teams and supporting a mobile workforce.


Is It Right for You?

The biggest question regarding whether unifying your social media channels is the right move focuses on what you intend to do with the data. If, as a company, you don’t anticipate using it for analytics, this might not be necessary. However, if it aligns with your big data strategy, making the move can be highly beneficial.


Additionally, if there is the potential for a unified approach to improve certain business processes, the concept is worth exploring. And, if you anticipate greater results based on your ability to review the data, defining those expectations to see if they align with what the solution actually offers can provide additional clarity.


Currently, we are at the forefront of truly harnessing social media for business development. This means we are being presented with new technologies that can help you leverage the data to your benefit while streamlining your processes. If you haven’t revisited your social media strategy in some time or haven’t defined how this data fits into your larger objective, now is the time to take a look and see if solutions like unifying your social media channels are right for you.


If you would like more information or are looking to increase the size of your team, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today to discuss your needs with a member of our team and see how our services can work for you.