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Future-proofing your career – making it last a lifetime – requires keeping an eye on technology trends. Develop skills in an emerging technology area and you'll have the satisfaction of working with innovative technology and inventing new products, as well as being in high demand and receiving high levels of compensation. These are the tech areas that are just starting to take off now.

Internet of Things

Internet of Things (IoT) devices—small, sensor-based devices that transmit data and receive instructions over the internet—are everywhere. Whether in homes with smart alarm systems, smart thermostats and smart light bulbs, manufacturing plants where connected devices control industrial process, or hospitals where smart pumps deliver medicine, they offer convenience and control critical services.

Wearable Technology

Wearables, which include smart watches, fitness trackers and Google glasses, combine aspects of mobile technology and IoT applications. Companies are starting to incorporate these devices into their business processes, especially in locations where hands-free access is important.

Self-Driving Cars

Autonomous cars rely on the Internet of Things as well as artificial intelligence methods to drive safely on streets and highways. Although they're not yet ready for consumer use, there's widespread commitment to developing them; Google's efforts get much media attention, many startups as well as the established automobile manufacturers are working on the problems.

Big Data and Analytics

All of these new devices, plus all of the new online interactions people have on social media and websites, are deluging companies with massive amounts of data. There's a big push to move beyond collecting and storing information to making it useful through sophisticated analytics processes. Companies hope to find insights in the data that give them a competitive advantage, so the engineering, programming, and analytical skills that can uncover that value are in top demand.

Plan your career with the long term in mind. The opportunities in these areas offer technology workers in all roles – developer, designer, engineer, tester, support – the opportunity to work on projects that will shape the future. Check out the opportunities in The Armada Group’s jobs database and contact us to connect with a recruiter who can help set you on your lifetime career path.

How Confident Are You in Tablet Security

Tablets are becoming a key tool for employees who work out in the field. Many employers now issue tablets to service professionals like visiting nurses or salespeople who make customer calls. By using these tablets, those workers are able to access company systems so data entry doesn't require a trip back to the office or to look up the information needed to close the deal. But, as with other mobile devices, the security risks of tablets are often unacknowledged, and many companies don't have the capabilities to secure, monitor, and support the usage of these devices.

There are several different risks companies need to address:

Loss of the device

Because these devices are so small and light, they're easily misplaced, lost, or stolen. Companies need to ensure that if an unauthorized user gains access to the device, they don't gain access to all the data on it and all the company's data systems.

Insecure networks

Employees on the go are likely to connect using insecure Wi-Fi networks in hotels, coffee shops, and other facilities. When employees connect using these networks, they risk exposing password and data or infecting their device with malware. Public charging stations also can potentially infect devices with malware.

Malware

The risks of malware are limited with iOS devices, but there's widespread malware that targets Android devices.

Companies that want to give their employees the flexibility of using tablets while maintaining appropriate security should consider using mobile device management software. That software provides a variety of features that help protect tablets and other mobile devices, such as allowing applications to be added or removed from mobile devices, enforcing encryption and other security controls on the device, and allowing devices to be wiped remotely if they are lost. Additionally, enterprises should build strong authentication into their applications, including multi-factor authentication. Antivirus software on the device will help protect against infections.

Need to build a team with the smarts to create tablet-centric applications for your field team and to keep them secure? The Armada Group has a deep pool of technology talent with leading edge skills. Contact us to learn how our staffing services can help you find the professionals your projects need to succeed. 

7 Tips to Structure Your Data Team the Right Way

The challenges of big data projects aren't limited to dealing with the structure of the data; the first challenge you face is determining the structure of the data team. Deciding the goal of your data projects is key to making sure you staff the team with the right skills to accomplish your purpose. Here are seven tips to help you staff and structure your data team.

Hire based on needs, not skills.

There's lots of buzz around Hadoop, but not all big data projects need Hadoop skills. Don't let keywords dictate your hiring; focus on the problem you need to solve and hire the specific skills required.

Be flexible.

Big data projects are new and the technology is still changing rapidly. You shouldn't expect the structure you put in place now to work for you next year. Anticipate rethinking your data team's structure frequently to keep up with changes in the industry and changes in your own organization.

Bring in multiple skill sets.

Data projects require technical skills for loading and managing the data as well as analytical skills to develop insights from the data. You should plan to hire engineers as well as analysts to make sure people can focus on the tasks they're most suited for.

Start with good data.

It's difficult to find value in messy, dirty data. You should expect data projects will need to spend time manipulating and cleaning data before the analysis begins, so take the time and staff needed for that task into consideration as you plan your team. It's likely you'll need more time and people to work on the data cleaning aspects than the analysis.

Use consultants wisely.

You may want to use consultants if it takes too long to find permanent employees with the skills you need, but you'll need to get the skills in-house eventually. If you have trouble finding the skills you need, consider training your existing staff. Consultants can help guide your team as they learn and transfer expertise.

Interview carefully.

Because big data is such a hot topic now, many candidates with limited experience are putting big data skills and projects on their resumes. Ask probing interview questions to find out the reality behind the experience they claim.

Hang on to your employees.

Because the data job market is so hot, you have to work to retain the skilled big data employees already on board. Make sure they don't get bored; offer them interesting challenges to solve, and pay market rates to keep them content.

Hadoop Lucrative IT

Big Data is big. The technology is now being used across all industries, from manufacturing to healthcare to even relatively low-tech retail and hospitality firms. The main technology behind Big Data, Hadoop is a framework that lets calculations on massive data sets take place on clustered nodes of inexpensive hardware, often in the cloud.

Big Corporate Commitments to Big Data

According to the research firm Gartner, more than 40 percent of companies they surveyed will invest in Hadoop development over the next two years. In the manufacturing industry, another survey showed big data was a priority for more than 80% of firms.

For many companies, one of the biggest stumbling blocks is a lack of familiarity with the technology and a lack of staff with the necessary experience. Because of this, developers with Hadoop skills are able to pull down big salaries – the average annual salary for Hadoop developers is more than $115,000.

Multiple Options for Companies Using Hadoop

Companies that sell big data products are trying to reduce the skills threshold in several ways. All vendors offer training, of course. Cloud providers including Amazon and Google offer Hadoop as a Service, letting businesses more easily spin up a Hadoop environment. These on-demand environments let companies dive right into the analysis that matters to them, rather than focusing on details like provisioning nodes and tuning clusters. Companies like Oracle provide pre-packaged analytics for specific industries.

Multiple Options for Developers with Hadoop Skills

All of that means that developers with Hadoop skills have lots of opportunity available to them, including working with a company implementing its own big data projects, a cloud vendor implementing big data environments on demand, and a packaged software vendor creating standard analytics reports.

Get Training in Big Data Skills

Developers who want to work with Big Data should get training in Hadoop, but that's not the only skill they need. Big Data depends on databases, and NoSQL is the chief database technology used. Although many Big Data developers will work with vendor analytics products, understanding data mining and statistical analysis is still necessary. Big Data developers should also have real familiarity with at least one of the vendor Hadoop as a Service offerings.

Currently, most big data opportunities are in geographic areas with large clusters of technology firms, like Silicon Valley, New York, and Seattle. As big data usage continues to spread, so will the need for its skills, meaning the opportunities will spread across the country. 

Wednesday, Jul 15 2015

4 Tips for Managing a Remote IT Team

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4 Tips for Managing a Remote IT Team

It's common these days for IT teams to have team members in multiple locations around the world, whether to take advantage of specialized talent or cost factors. Technology helps these scattered teams communicate, but there are still challenges that come when co-workers aren't co-located. Here are four tips for managers to help their remote teams work effectively.

Plan ahead

Projects always work more efficiently when there's a plan, and planning is even more critical with remote staff. There are fewer opportunities for casual interactions and questions to clarify assignments, and if confusion crosses time zones, delays can extend for days. Make sure you have a plan, so everyone knows what they're expected to do and when it needs to be done.

Schedule time to communicate

Because team members don't see you in person on a regular basis, they don't often get a lot of feedback. Don't rely on email; it's not dynamic enough, and meaning doesn't always come through. Plan a regular virtual meeting, perhaps once a month, to meet with your remote staff and give development guidance and other feedback. When possible, use videoconferencing, not just audio, so facial expressions and other non-verbal feedback are part of the communication process.

Build processes and systems to support the team

When people are in the same place, you may not need formal processes to address issues that arise; casual communication and spur-of-the-moment working sessions help sort things out. When people are around the world, a formally defined process ensures that everyone knows how to raise concerns, and that everyone is able to contribute input to solutions.

Build team spirit

Remote teams still want to feel like part of the team. Make sure remote staff are included in team celebrations. If possible, have managers visit the remote site periodically, and bring senior members of the remote staff for working visits to the home office. Besides providing an opportunity to build a shared work culture, these out-of-office experiences allow you to get to know remote staff as individuals and treat them as the unique people they are.

Tuesday, Jun 30 2015

3 Tips For First-Time IT Managers

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3 Tips for First Time Managers

Moving from a hands-on role to a manager's role means a big change in what you do on a daily basis. It also means a big change in how you relate to co-workers, especially if you now manage former peers. Here are three tips to help you adapt and succeed in this new role.

Draw on Your Experience, but Continue to Learn

The most important thing to recognize as a new manager is that you don't actually know how to do everything the job requires. Your technical skills will help with some aspects of the job, like developing project schedules and deciding if an application is ready to release, but the management role requires other skills, like budgeting and conducting performance reviews, that may not have been needed previously. Plan to take the necessary training and find mentors to help you continue to develop.

Communicate Effectively

As an individual contributor, your success was evaluated solely based on your own performance. As a manager, your success depends on the success of your team. It's important to get team members to buy in to project priorities and deadlines, which means setting goals clearly and being open to feedback. Make sure the team knows you're open to their opinions by having an open-door policy. Some team members may hesitate to speak out in a group setting, so seek them out for one-to-one discussions.

When things aren't going well, get the team's perception of the problem and their input on ways to improve it, rather than dictating a solution or imposing a new process on them. Be sure to celebrate the team's success, too; you don't want them conditioned to expect bad news when you walk into the room.

Support Other's Development

Your success as a manager may inspire others to aspire to management roles. Encourage team members to grow and develop skills, technical and other. Take the annual goal-setting process seriously, and help team members set goals that are achievable, and will benefit them as well as the company. Create an environment that supports learning, by encouraging training. Mentor team members to help them develop. Helping your team develop their skills will make them stronger contributors, increase your team's success, and help you climb the management ladder.