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.
IT professionals are often faced with a choice when it comes to skills development and training, and they come in the forms of boot camps and certifications. Both options can provide benefits when it comes to advancing your career, but each will do so in different ways. And, since both paths require significant investments, you want to make sure you choose the best course of action for your career.
To help you weigh which choice is best, here is what you need to know about how boot camps and certifications fit into your career goals.
New Career or Career Development
One of the biggest determining factors is whether you are looking to start a new career or develop your current one. Often, boot camps are ideal for those looking to change their field or IT specialty, as they provide a strong foundation and key job skills in a relatively short amount of time. Additionally, they offer significant hands-on experience that lets you put your new knowledge into action quickly.
Certifications often support a field in which you are already working. It confirms you possess a specific skill set instead of focusing on the development of new ones. While a person can learn a new skill to achieve a certification, most certifications are focused on testing what you know and not necessarily teaching you something new. You can take courses designed to end in a certification, but a class is not necessarily a prerequisite for becoming certified.
Creation or Support
Many boot camps focus on the skills needed to create something new. They provide information regarding the use of relevant tools and how they are used to build and develop solutions within the target system. Additionally, the skills are often transferable into a variety of environments, making them highly transferable between related specialties. In many cases, boot camps are available for skills like software development and programming, where the creation of something new is part of the core duties associated with working in those positions.
In comparison, certifications are often related to specific computing environments. Further, they are often more concerned with supporting what is already in place instead of developing new solutions. These apply most to systems like networking, security, and cloud support. The focus is often on preexisting infrastructure and systems, with emphasis on keeping these operational with skills like troubleshooting, maintenance, and prevention.
Typically, a boot camp is a significant commitment that requires your full attention for weeks. Many people would find it challenging, if not impossible, to attend a reputable boot camp while maintaining a full-time position. In contrast, certifications can be obtained while also maintaining traditional employment. While studying is recommended, and classes may be offered, you may be able to complete the work on your own time.
Ultimately, choosing which option is right for you is highly dependent on your personal career goals. Continuing education often plays a significant role in any technology field as new developments reach the mainstream on a regular basis. So, even if you choose one of the training opportunities today, it doesn’t mean the other won’t be right for you tomorrow.
If you are interested in exploring new positions to help you progress along your career path, The Armada Group has the industry expertise needed to help you explore your options. Contact us to see what new opportunities are available in your target field, and what it takes to land the job today.
It’s no secret that software developers, including those who with Python experience, are in high demand. Low unemployment means many Python developers are seeing salaries rise, and those working in Silicon Valley are seeing significantly higher compensation than the national average. To help explain why being a Python developer can lead to big bucks in Silicon Valley, here is an overview of all of the factors at play.
As 2016 came to a close, the unemployment rate amongst tech pros across the nation sat at 2.9 percent. This is well below the national average, estimated to be 4.7 percent. While the unemployment rate for some IT professionals, include web developers and information security analysts actually rose, software developers saw unemployment fall even further during 2016, reflecting the increased demand for these skills.
The trick with low unemployment in certain IT positions is that new employees aren’t entering that portion of the workforce at a high enough rate to offset the rise in demand. Python developers traditionally have significant amounts of education and training, and it can’t be obtained overnight. If more workers don’t choose to enter the field, the downward trend for unemployment may continue in the software development sector.
Cost of Living
A variable that affects anyone living and working in Silicon Valley is the cost of living. The cost of housing, food, utilities, and other basic expenses are elevated when compared to the national average. This means companies looking to attract the top Python developers need to offer salaries that offset the increased costs associated with being in the region.
However, some regions that are also known for a high cost of living, like New York City, have yet to meet the same salaries being offered by businesses in the San Jose area. When looked at from this angle, just because an area has a higher cost of living when compared to other parts of the nation, that doesn’t guarantee the compensation offered is designed to offset it.
Higher Skill Levels Required
Silicon Valley is still considered a hub for technology with significantly more tech companies operating than average. This means competition for IT professionals is especially high, pumping up salaries in efforts to bring in new talent and retain current employees.
While possessing Python development experience is often enough to get you a strong starting salary at a new company, vacancies in the San Jose area typically require a higher skill level on average than positions in other metro areas. As the level of experience rises, so do the salaries. And that means highly talented software developers can position themselves for above average compensation if they are able to work in the Silicon Valley area.
If you are interested in Python developer positions in the region, The Armada Group has the industry knowledge to help you get a strong salary for your skills. Contact us to discuss opportunities in your area today.
Almost any individual who has taken some time to research how to enter the lucrative field associated with coding has likely heard about coding boot camps. Typically, these are intensive forms of hands-on training that promise to provide you with the skills in you need in a relatively short amount of time. However, they can be costly and generally require a significant time investment to complete (though much less than a formal college degree).
Determining whether a boot camp offers the right value depends on your specific needs. To help you determine if one might be right for you, here are some major points to consider.
A boot camp is a highly focused form of education and is considered a fairly immersive experience. Unlike many college degrees, you won’t be dividing your time between coding classes and a range of other subjects. Instead, you will essentially live and breathe coding for a period of time. The approach can be helpful for those who haven’t pursued a college degree due to weaknesses in a subject unrelated to technology as it eliminates the requirement.
Additionally, the lack of extraneous coursework means your education will take less time that even many vocational schools. It isn’t uncommon for a coding boot camp to last anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks, which is much shorter than options offered through almost any other institution.
The fast-paced nature of a coding boot camp often requires a fair amount of support to be available at all times. This means that well-designed courses provide access to instructors who possess a strong skill set and are able to share it with others. Additionally, some boot camps can be fairly small in regards to the number of participants, and smaller class sizes make it easier to get one-on-one help the need arises.
However, to get the most value out of these classes, you need to be technically inclined and a fairly fast learner. Otherwise, it is easy to fall behind. And these classes don’t wait for those who need additional time to nail down a concept.
No Regulation, No Guarantees
It is important to note that coding boot camps are regulated as of this time. That means you aren’t guaranteed to cover the same material from one boot camp to the next. Additionally, the quality of the experience may vary dramatically. If you are interested in attending a boot camp, take the time to research multiple options before committing. That way you can increase your odds of selecting one that offers a strong value for the money.
Additionally, there are no guarantees you will find a job immediately after completing the work. While many of the stronger boot camps do offer career support, there is no way of knowing how long it will actually take to secure employment.
However, you can increase your odds of finding opportunities by working with an IT recruiter, such as those from The Armada Group. Contact us today and explore the coding positions that may be available to you.
Technology has become a disruptive force in almost every industry. The Internet of Things (IoT) has increased awareness regarding the potential connectivity of systems, including real-time monitoring and reporting through certain city infrastructure components. Additionally, new service-oriented businesses whose foundations are in technology, such as Uber, are changing how people use certain services within a city, changing revenue flows. Even advancements in automation can fundamentally change how a city operates as technology changes employment levels throughout an area.
All of these shifts require leaders and planning professionals within city areas to have a new understanding regarding the impact of technology on the landscape. Whether it is the relevance of data analytics for acquiring needed information, the technical expertise required to implement and maintain certain pieces of infrastructure, or the foresight required to anticipate changes based on market trends, formal education is often required to support these smart city developments.
And universities across the country are embracing the challenges of today’s smart cities to create the professionals that will be required tomorrow.
Adding Data Analytics
The value of data analytics can be applied to a variety of fields, and more colleges and universities are acknowledging that fact. Entire degree plans are dedicated to the subject, and a variety of fields have individual courses designed to cover the most relevant aspects of the topic within particular industries.
Additionally, many schools have used the increased demand relating to data analytics to create separate certificate programs for professionals looking to expand their knowledge and skills. This provides working adults who may have already secured a college education in the respective fields to gain knowledge regarding data analytics to support the continuation of their careers.
Technology Integration and Sustainability
Technology is giving cities new options in regards to sustainability within their infrastructure. One of the early developments included the use of sensors to manage street and traffic lights to reduce energy costs, as well as monitor water mains to identify early signs of leaks. Advancements of this nature have the ability to lower city operating costs through the better management of resources as well as spot potential issues before a major failure results and large-scale repairs are needed.
All of these points can help a city become more sustainable by limiting the excessive use of natural resources and making system repairs for lower costs by addressing issues early. The addition of these technologies requires professionals who are prepared to work with these systems and have led to the creation of suitable higher educational options designed specifically to meet that demand.
Smart cities can include many more technology-driven features designed to help municipal employees manage certain conditions more effectively and improve the resident experience in regards to daily living. Public safety can now include courses on the use of traffic, dash or personal cameras as information sources. Additionally, urban planning now involves the use of digital signage to direct traffic based on the precise driving conditions that are detected within areas traditionally subject to congestion.
The potential for other advancements is also vast, and many colleges and universities are stepping up to the plate to create courses and programs designed to meet these developments if they haven’t already. This helps shrink the talent gap and provides areas with new options for technological advancement in their daily operations.
If you are looking for a technology professional to help your organization meet the demands created by the smart city movement, The Armada Group has the expertise to find your ideal candidates. Contact our skilled recruiters today and let our recruitment technology help make your hiring practices smarter than ever.
When software developers need to measure the quality of their code, many turn to code coverage. The technique provides a metric regarding how much of the code is covered by the testing plan, giving definitive feedback regarding the thoroughness of applicable testing. But how effective is code coverage, and does it actually help you create a better product?
Shorten Development Timetable
Professionals working in the software development field state benefits regarding the amount of time required to complete testing. Since code coverage serves as a tracking mechanism, less time is required to maintain the code. It also supports initiatives like agile and DevOps by creating a more efficient test plan and limiting technical debt.
Some development programs include code coverage within their product. For example, Microsoft Visual Studio provides internal tools for measuring code coverage. Additionally, third party solutions are available to test code based on a variety of languages. That means you do not have to dedicate internal resources to the creation of these solutions. However, manual methods are also available, though they can add time to the development cycle.
Clear Coverage Results
Code coverage allows developers to see exactly which code was tested and which code wasn’t. This helps confirm the portions that are working properly while guiding further testing to reach portions of the code that were not covered in prior testing.
Since the status of the testing is easily measured, this allows companies to set minimum thresholds before a release is scheduled. However, many businesses find it unnecessary to reach 100 percent coverage before considering release. Instead, a target of 80 percent or more may be sufficient. Then, if issues arise post-release, developers already understand which code was not previously tested, helping to speed up troubleshooting efforts.
Code Coverage Shortcomings
One area where code coverage is lacking is in the potential quality of the code. The system lacks the ability to determine whether the underlying tests were of a high enough quality to evaluate the product code properly.
Additionally, there is nothing to prevent developers from focusing on unit tests when higher code coverage targets were required. If a business puts extreme pressure on developers and focuses on particularly high code coverage requirements (such as 95 percent or higher, depending on the amount of source code involved), testers may not have the time required to create high-quality tests while also meeting the requirement.
Ultimately, code coverage cannot judge how meaningful a test may be, only what was tested. To ensure quality testing, additional policy may be required to guide efforts. Additionally, the tests may need to be reviewed to ensure best practices are being used.
This means that the results of code coverage will only be as useful as the code driving the test. Organizations will need to create standards regarding how the analysis will be performed to yield high-quality results.
If your company is interested in hiring new developers familiar with code coverage, The Armada Group has the skills required to find your ideal candidate. Contact us and see how our hiring solutions can work for you.
All software testing comes with a level of risk, and automated testing is not immune to that risk. Even organizations that focus on agile methodology need to make sure that an appropriate amount of time and care is dedicated to the process before taking a product to market. Many businesses select an automation tool and assume it will manage all of their problems.
Initial test cases often lead to quick wins, but further developing the tool and creating a strong test portfolio takes effort. Additionally, many companies become overconfident based on automated test case results without accounting for the use of poorly defined tests and issues of inconsistency.
The use of Agile can shift focus onto the speed of development and release. While staying ahead requires moving swiftly, failing to avoid certain pitfalls associated with automation tools can lead to errors, subpar releases and unstable products. To avoid some of the risks associated with automated testing, here are some tips to follow.
Slow Down Implementation
Once an automation tool or solution is selected, it is important to dedicate a significant amount of time to planning. Implementing too quickly can lead teams to work on solving a particular issue within their overall testing strategy instead of seeing how the tools fit into the big picture.
It is critical to review Agile development and continuous testing principles and work to apply the concepts in a broad manner. That way, decisions are made based on the benefits that will be made available throughout the organization, including everyone from developers and testers to managers and executives.
A side effect of overconfidence in the automation tool or solution is failing to complete adequate amounts of testing. Rushing a product to market creates a sense of tunnel vision where reaching the end of the race to market is the sole focus. However, allowing that urgency to create an environment where testing becomes less thorough increases the risk of a notable defect reaching the consumer market.
Failing to catch certain defects before a product reaches the market can have long-lasting negative impacts on the company’s reputation. Over time, the affects the entirety of the brand, even if the issue was limited to a specific product offering, and affects customer loyalty.
Customers have high expectations regarding the functionality of their tech. Whether it is a mobile app, web-based application, large-scale software solution, or anything in between, failing to meet expectations will have consumers looking for alternative offerings.
Some organizations believe that using automated tools lessens the amount of technical expertise they need among their staff. However, automated testing still relies on a strong test infrastructure and competent code. Ignoring the human factor in the overall testing landscape can lead to shortcomings based on a lack of appropriate skills. And that can lead even the best testing tools and solutions to provide unreliable results.
Automated testing is intended to supplement the traditional testing process by eliminating certain tasks from an individual’s workload. However, it cannot fully stand in for all testing professionals. These tests are meant to be part of the development pipeline, but are not a reason to abandon traditional manual testing entirely.
If you are interested in finding skilled testing professionals to ensure your process yields the best results, The Armada Group has the recruitment experience you need to find top candidates in the field. Contact us to explore available candidates today.
Over time, it is easy to settle into a groove at work. You learn your specific job duties, solidify your technical skills and simply float along with the current. Over time, what starts out as simple familiarity turns into complacency. And that leads to stagnation.
Once we find ourselves in a comfortable pattern, it is only natural to resist change, and we may even create excuses to prevent ourselves from taking risks at work. And only some of those excuses may be valid. To help determine if an excuse is reasonable or simply an imaginary barrier, here are four excuses IT pros make to avoid taking risks, and how to address them.
1. It’s Not a Good Time
In most cases, there is no such thing as a “good time” to take a risk. The stars rarely align in such a manner, so this is an excuse someone may use in perpetuity. It is important to separate any feelings of anxiety related to change from the pressures you may be feeling at work. In many cases, it isn’t the thought of making the change now that is the issue; it is the thought of doing it at all.
However, there can be bad times to take risks. For example, if a project deadline got accelerated and you are pulling overtime every day to meet the new timeline, then it is a bad time for a major change. Otherwise, if business is moving per the usual, you might want to reconsider the excuse.
2. My Manager Hasn’t Brought it Up
Your boss may not overtly encourage you to take risks, but that doesn’t mean advocating for change is inappropriate. Often, managers aren’t fully aware of where your interests lie, how you imagine progressing in your career, or even whether there is a better way to get certain tasks done. This means that a proactive approach is going to be necessary. So, if you have a new idea, take it to them instead of waiting for a prompt. Your enthusiasm may be appreciated, and you might get more support to move forward than you may have anticipated.
3. I Don’t Know What to Do
We live in a time that is dominated by quick access to information of all kinds. That means, even if you don’t know what risk to take, you can likely find options fairly quickly. Simply consider any issues or shortcomings you notice during your workday, take the initiative and do some research. Focus on a topic and look for new developments in that arena. Then, take the time to learn about the possibilities and see if anything seems beneficial to you or the business.
Once you identify a potential solution to a current pain point, you have something on which to move forward.
4. I Could Fail
Risk inherently comes with the risk of failure, and this risk tends to be the main thing that holds people back. But mistakes are part of the learning process. Everyone you work with today has messed up at some point, and they all made it through to the other side. Your best defense against the negative effects of failure is to get proper support and take the time to learn as much as possible as you step into the unknown.
Ultimately, failing to take a risk can be more damaging to your career than never stepping out of your comfort zone. And taking a risk doesn’t mean you are reckless as long as you don’t jump blindly. If you want to progress, it’s time to look risk in the eye and decide to give it a go, after you have a plan in place.
If you are interested in taking a risk in your career by exploring new employment options, the professionals at The Armada Group can help provide you with the information and support to help your risk turn into a success. Contact us today and see what our recruitment professionals can do for your career.
Agile has been on the IT development industry radar for well over a decade, but the principles are just as valuable today as they were at their original creation. It advocates for continuous improvement through flexibility and adaptive planning. In comparison, the term “DevOps” is relatively new. However, it also supports initiatives around improved quality by integrating Automated Delivery and Continuous Deployment into the software development cycle.
Separately, each of these strategies brings value to software and IT development teams. Not only can they speed up the process of creation and eventual release into the market, they also has the potential to improve customer satisfaction and increase brand loyalty. Additionally, both approaches are known to increase employee engagement, aiding companies with their larger recruitment and retention goals.
But, when taken together, Agile and DevOps can accomplish those goals and much more.
The use of Agile and DevOps in conjunction can increase employee satisfaction. Often, involved team members are happier with their work which creates a more productive work environment. This improves recruitment and retention efforts, helping businesses locate top talent and keep them on the payroll over the long term.
Projects move forward with greater velocity, and the ability to improve products to create more value becomes a constant. Additionally, the rapid release of new iterations can actually lower the level of support required with updated releases, as companies focus on implementing a series of small changes instead of large-scale rereleases.
Ultimately, Agile and DevOps work towards the same goals of creating better products while simultaneously increasing employee engagement throughout the development cycle.
Often, when development teams are happier, productivity increases and engagement is maintained. Additionally, product development is seen as continuous, meaning that new value is created within the product at faster intervals than traditional development approaches. And a side effect of this is often greater customer satisfaction.
Customers can witness the quality of the product increasing over time, and many businesses that use Agile and DevOps techniques are able to keep pace with or stay ahead of the competition, which is critical to long-term organizational success. In turn, the higher-quality output can increase brand loyalty while also attracting new customers.
A Combined Effect
Agile and DevOps have the same essential goals; they work to bring high-value products to customers and support continuous improvement and evolution. Since each of these principles focus on streamlining development, businesses that use the tactics are typically more attractive to top talent working in the field. In those regards, Agile and DevOps are natural allies.
If you are looking for your next software developer or are hoping to find an IT manager with experience in Agile and DevOps, The Armada Group can help streamline your hiring processes and find the candidates you need quickly and efficiently. Contact us today to see what one of our recruitment specialists can do for you.
Sometimes the best defense is a good offense. And Facebook is hiring both.
When most companies think of security, they focus on hiring IT professionals that can stop attacks in their tracks. Often, it requires a combination of skills aimed at limiting penetration, closing backdoors, and monitoring for intrusions. While all of these tasks are important to overall security, it does lack one key thing: an attacker.
Businesses are often only made aware of vulnerabilities when one is taken advantage of. That means the majority of security operations are reactive in nature. But some organizations have chosen a more proactive approach by hiring penetration experts to test their systems intentionally.
Role of the Internal Attacker
The purpose of an offensive security engineer is to act as an attacker in these scenarios. Their job is to try and make it through security mechanisms just as a hacker would. However, since they are employees of the company, they don’t focus on damage after the fact. Instead, they create their reports, record their techniques, and work with other security personnel to make sure someone outside of the business can’t get in the same way.
Often, the process of breaking into these systems and working your way past security measures is called penetration testing. Essentially, it is determining whether security measures are sufficient by blatantly trying to prove they aren’t.
Not a New Profession
Penetration testing isn’t new to the IT security world. In fact, some companies have been using outside services for this purpose for years. The difference isn’t in the process, but who ultimately employs the hacker-for-hire.
Many businesses who used to outsource the function have decided to bring professionals on-staff instead. In some cases, the reasoning behind the change is the ability to bring on staff who can do more than penetration testing. That way you can essentially have a hacker on-call while still finding more value in their work. Other organizations prefer to keep the privacy associated with internal testing.
Even if a third-party signs appropriate confidentiality agreements, some businesses are inherently nervous about outsiders getting in. By keeping an offensive security engineer on staff, that role can be completed by an employee instead.
Offense and Defense Go Hand-in-Hand
Creating a strong defense requires a solid understanding of the offense side of the equation. By having both sides represented by employees, businesses have the chance to allow each side to learn from one another. This can lead to stronger defenses based on more capable offenses, and that cycle can continue indefinitely.
If your company could benefit from an offensive security engineer or you’re filling any other IT vacancies, the professionals at The Armada Group can help you find the candidates you need. Contact us today and see how our recruitment specialists can work for you.