Turn Down an Interview

 

When you apply for a job, it may be days, weeks, or even months before you hear back about an opportunity. During that time, you might land a new position, have a change in your personal circumstances, or simply become less interested in a particular role. Then, if you get an invitation to interview for the job, you find yourself in a tough spot.

 

While some would argue that you should attend every interview, even if it’s solely for the practice, that isn’t always a practical choice. Plus, it means potentially wasting the hiring manager’s time, and that might not be something you want to do if you don’t want to burn bridges at that company.

 

Luckily, it is possible to turn down a tech job interview invitation without harming your reputation with the hiring manager. If you aren’t sure how to manage the situation, here is the most amicable way to decline the opportunity.

 

Express Your Appreciation

Being asked to interview is something to be grateful for, even if you no longer want to pursue the job. By expressing your appreciation to the hiring manager, you are more likely to make a positive impression, even if you are declining the opportunity.

 

Let the hiring manager that you are thankful that they reached out before you say anything else, as your gratitude will help soften the next part of your response.

 

 

Clearly Decline

If you are turning down a tech job interview, you don’t want to be ambiguous. Instead, you need to clearly state that you are declining the opportunity.

 

For example, saying, “I am unable to attend” might suggest to the hiring manager that the date or time doesn’t work, but that you are still interested in interviewing. This can lead to an awkward and unnecessary back and forth that could have been avoided had you been clear from the beginning. Instead, let them know that you “need to decline the opportunity,” removing any question about your intention or interest in attending.

 

Whether you provide a reason is up to you. However, if you do choose to let the hiring manager know what you are declining, make sure to keep it both vague and brief. Additionally, by honest if you opt to provide a reason, as a fib could come back to haunt you later.

 

End on a Positive

After declining the interview, it’s wise to end on a high note. Before you close, consider saying something positive about the company. You can also add that you are confident they will find a great candidate for the role.

 

You don’t have to be overly specific, but adding some positive can increase your odds of being remembered fondly should you decide to apply to a role in the company in the future.

 

By using the tips above, you can gracefully decline a tech job interview. If you are interested in learning more, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us with your questions today and see how our expertise can benefit you.

 

 

Published in Staffing News

Digital Transformation Goals

 

Typically, a digital transformation represents a significant overhaul of how a company does business. It leads to the integration of new processes and procedures, introduces technologies that weren’t previously in the workplace, and may even require a fundamental shift in mentality. However, like any large-scale undertaking, a successful digital transformation plan involves goal setting. Otherwise, you’ll struggle to determine whether the change produced positive results in the proper areas.

 

If you are ready to get started, here are some tips for setting digital transformation goals for your company.

 

Don’t Automatically Follow the Other Guy

There is a significant amount of information online, including tails of successful digital transformations. While it may be tempting to model your goals after another company, this isn’t always the wisest move.

 

Ultimately, every business is different. And, if your priorities differ from those of the example, their goals might not be appropriate for you.

 

Identify Important Metrics

Before you set goals, you need to understand which metrics, such as key performance indicators (KPIs) mean the most to your business. For example, you may want to increase profits, improve production rates, eliminate bottlenecks, or achieve an optimal inventory based on demand.

 

Unless you understand which metrics are most valuable to you, you’ll have trouble selecting measurable goals. And, if the objectives aren’t measurable, you may struggle to determine if your digital transformation was actually successful.

 

 

Align the Approach

After identifying key metrics, you need to align your approach with the broader objectives. Digital transformation can mean a lot of things, involving a wide range of technology options that may not be ideal for your business. You don’t want to incidentally waste time by focusing on a particular tech implementation that isn’t going to create meaningful value, so you need to focus on opportunities that actually align with what you hope to achieve.

 

During this phase, you’re effectively creating a project overview. You can identify potential technologies that could positively impact your KPIs and determine priorities, including whether any steps are prerequisites to others. After examining these points, create a rough outline of the project to help guide further goal setting.

 

Create Milestones

With the overview in place and your KPIs noted, you can create meaningful milestones to function as short-term goals in the larger project. Additionally, you can monitor related metrics as you move forward, giving you the ability to visualize the impact of the digital transformation as it takes place.

 

This approach gives you the ability to not just see your progress, but also make course corrections as necessary, helping you shift your strategy if you don't see the results you hope to have. Further, you can share this information with your staff, helping them stay on target and keep their priorities in the proper places.

 

By following the tips above, you can create customized goals for your digital transformation. If you are interested in learning more, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members today and see how our experience can benefit you.

 

 

Published in Hiring Managers

Career Mistakes by CIOs

 

Nearly every CIO took an occasional misstep early in their career as they were learning to navigate the nuances of leadership roles. Luckily, aspiring tech leaders can learn from these mistakes, helping them to avoid similar situations and trappings as they work their way up the ladder.

 

If your career goals involve reaching the upper echelons of management, here are some common early-career mistakes made by CIOs and how to avoid them.

 

  1. Avoiding Maintenance Tasks and Routine Projects

Typically, maintenance activities and routine projects don’t have a substantial amount of visibility within an organization. However, they are essential to a company’s success.

 

Similarly, pushing against prolonging legacy systems in favor of transitioning to the latest and greatest system may seem more exciting, but it may not be in the best interest of the business. And rejecting the idea of improving what’s there can hurt your career.

 

Instead of rejecting the routine, differentiate yourself within that space. Increase your knowledge of existing systems, learn how to use them to create additional value, and strive to improve what is already in place. This will set you apart from professionals who aren’t interested in anything but high-visibility projects, cementing your reputation of always having the organization’s best interest in mind.

 

  1. Not Seizing Opportunities to Become a Top Performer

If you establish yourself as a top performer, it is possible to bypass your more complacent colleagues, even if they have more experience. Those interested in reaching the leadership ranks should work to keep their skills up-to-date and complete their work to the best of their ability every time, regardless of the level of visibility.

 

Don’t be afraid to acquire new skills associated with emerging technologies, even if they aren’t yet in use at your company. That way, if they decide to embrace them, you are ahead of the pack and can help make the transition a possibility.

 

 

  1. Not Proactively Planning Your Career

Becoming a CIO rarely happens by accident. Instead, reaching that level in an organization is usually the result of a well-planned career that was properly executed.

 

If your goal is to become an executive, then identify the skills and experience required to land those roles. Then, pursue opportunities that allow you to move in that direction, networking with other skilled professionals and tech leaders along the way.

 

  1. Being Afraid to Let Go

Whenever a person in a contributor position reaches the leadership ranks, it can be hard to shake that old work persona. But, if you become a manager, your role has changed, and you need to learn to trust your team and release the urge to handle the tasks that used to make up your day to day.

 

Strong leaders delegate and empower their teams, and that means letting go of who you used to be and embracing who you are now.

 

By avoiding the early-career mistakes above, you can position yourself for greater success as you reach the leadership ranks. If you are looking for a new opportunity to move your career forward, the professionals at The Armada Group can connect you with leading employers throughout the area. Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members today and see how our services can help you take the next step toward your career goal.

 

 

Published in Staffing News

Bad Apps

 

When it comes to publishing an app, there are essentially two platforms to choose from: Apple’s App Store for iOS and Google’s Play Store for Android. Both companies work to keep “bad” apps from entering their marketplaces, an effort that seems to be directed at keeping users safe from nefarious pieces of software.

 

However, some of the guidelines regarding the publication of apps have other implications, and may keep a “good” app from being offered through the respective stores. But each tech giant’s approach is different. Here’s what you need to know.

 

Apple’s App Store

While Apple is generally recognized for keeping a strong grasp on its store offerings, making the marketplace a fairly safe destination when it comes to downloading apps, some of their guidelines leave a bit to be desired.

 

For example, what defines a “bad” app is somewhat vague and even ambiguous. Additionally, a rule that states that “apps created from commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected,” make it difficult for some apps to pass the test, even if they are safe.

 

While the core intention may be the avoidance of too many cloned apps entering the marketplace, small businesses often rely on template or app generation services to produce the apps they need. Even if the function is unique, a copycat framework could lead to rejection. Additionally, when certain skeletons become popular, increasing their prevalence in the store, it is possible Apple’s algorithm will turn the app away based on its similarities.

 

Google’s Play Store

Google takes a different approach when it comes to the management of supposed “bad” apps. Instead of focusing on the framework, Google emphasizes functionality when it makes a decision.

 

To improve the marketplace experience, Google works to have higher quality apps display more often than those of lower quality (such as apps that crash frequently). The company states, “The change has had a positive impact on engagement” as Play Store users are more likely to download an app with increased stability.

 

Google has also recommended that developers take advantage of the Android Vitals tool, a mechanism for monitoring stability and the associated battery usage when installed on a person’s device, as it allows creators to keep an eye on the quality of the app experience. This gives people the ability to improve their search ranking by improving the app.

 

Apple does also keep an eye on low-quality apps, and even outright rejects those who aren’t above 32-bit, but the company aims more to prevent these applications from ever being available instead of simply pushing them down in the search results, like Google. For small businesses looking to create an app, especially if the intention is for internal use only, Apple’s strict guidelines may make it harder to reach publication, an important point to understand before investing in development.

 

If you would like to learn more about app development, including how to find a skilled professional or acquire a new position in the field, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today.

 

 

Tech Conferences

 

For many, conference season is in full swing. These ventures can be costly but, with the proper planning, have a lot to offer IT managers in return. If you want to get the most out of your tech conference experience, here are some tips to help you manage these trips right.

Don’t Let Co-Workers Distract You

While many organizations can only send one person due to budget constraints or workload concerns, some companies try to send as many people as possible. While having more eyes on the ground may seem beneficial, most co-workers feel obligated to spend time together. This may serve as a great bonding experience but doesn’t mean you’ll get the most from the conference if it keeps you from being able to focus.

 

Additionally, coming in with a team may make it less likely you’ll connect with other people while you explore the conference. If you want to network, make sure your co-workers break away from time to time to allow everyone to meet new people and foster new relationships that could be beneficial.

Review the Session and Events Schedules

Before you even begin packing for the conference, take the time to review the session and other event schedules in advance. This gives you an opportunity to mark must-attend sessions and presentations first, giving you a framework for your time. Then, you can pencil in time for other activities, like exploring vendor offerings on the trade show floor. It will also let you know when you can safely break for meals or check in at the office without missing something important.

Ask Questions Often

To get the most out of a conference, you need to be prepared to ask questions along the way. Speakers, vendors, sponsors, and other attendees are often open to having conversations, so don’t shy away from approaching someone if you think they have valuable information you would like to learn.

 

And don’t feel limited by the content of a particular session or a specific product offering. If someone seems knowledgeable about a topic, ask for anything from book or blog recommendations to information about upcoming conferences they are interested in attending. You may learn something unexpected if you take a risk and branch out.

Split Up to Cover More Ground

If you attend the conference with other coworkers, considering dividing up sessions to help you access more information. By splitting up, you can attend more sessions and experience more collectively. This means your total amount of information acquired is higher and everyone has a somewhat different experience.

 

After the sessions are over for the day, consider meeting up for dinner and discussing key points about your conference experience. Not only can this make great meal-time conversation, but it also ensures everyone’s memories are fresh when they share details.

 

If you are interested in learning more about how to optimize your conference experience or are working to add a new member to your team, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us today to see how our expertise can work for you.

 

 

1 AI Trends

 

Artificial intelligence is getting a lot of attention in the business world, making its mark in almost every industry along the way. Information about new developments seems to pour in endlessly, creating a challenge when it comes to truly seeing what is happening in AI today. To help you see through the onslaught of news, here are some of the latest trends in the field and what they can mean for your company.

Increasing Accessibility

Almost every organization is watching the AI trend, but few have started the process of implementing solutions that take advantage of the technology. Much of this delay is related to the need for a highly specialized skill set to bring in these systems. Professionals with the required background aren’t readily available and obtaining the necessary skills isn’t a small task. However, there are new frameworks being developed that look to ease the burden associated with implementing and supporting these systems. Howdy’s Slack Bot and Facebook’s Wit.ai are both bringing point-and-click systems to developers, making the creation and customization of AI systems easier to manage.

 

Other tools also aim to simplify the implementation of deep learning models. Options like TensorFlow, Keras, and Bonsai are just some of those looking to bring more advanced AI capabilities to a wider market. Cloud platforms are also lightening the load on business eliminating internal infrastructure concerns. Collectively, this makes AI more accessible to all.

Targeted Solutions

General purpose AI solutions are still something to look forward to in the future. Now, highly specialized systems are the standard, working to manage specific tasks or function in defined niches. While these targeted solutions aren’t viable across all industries, the cumulative efforts have a wide variety of sectors well covered. Organizations operating in such diverse areas as banking, healthcare, security, and production can all expect AI systems designed specifically for their needs, making them exciting developments for increasing the speed of business.

Information Management

Data overload is a real issue for some companies, especially as they take advantage of the information provided through IoT and other mechanisms. While businesses want to harness the power of their data, overflowing amounts of information make it difficult to find value in the data. AI systems are being designed specifically to alleviate this issue, allowing for more efficient processing and parsing of information. Structured data extraction, natural language understanding, information cartography, and automatic summarization are all being considered for their information management capabilities and may make data overload a non-issue in the future.

Human-Machine Interaction

As AI technologies become more robust, their ability to communicate with people improves. Developers are focusing attention on improving the emotional intelligence of systems, helping them interpret human speech more effectively based on word choice and even tone.

 

It is important to keep in mind that AI is still evolving, including in all of the areas above. Advances are being regularly made, but it will take additional time before these solutions can fully replace certain human interactions. Additionally, it takes a significant amount of IT talent to keep these systems functioning as they need to in order to provide the necessary value. If you are looking for professionals with AI skills to join your team, the recruiters at The Armada Group have the connections to find the ideal candidates. Contact us to discuss your needs today and see how our services can work for you.

 

Three Skills

 

While most technical professionals are enjoying the benefits of low unemployment and high demand, not every skill set is created equal in today’s job market. In fact, some workers are seeing businesses compete aggressively for their knowledge and capabilities, leading to new opportunities and stronger salaries.

 

So, if you are a tech pro, what skills should be your focus during the year? If you want to make the most of today’s hiring landscape, start with one of these three.

1. Software Development

Tech pros with skills in the areas of software development and programming are leading the pack in 2017. Many companies have shifted budgets that were previously focused on infrastructure to find candidates who can help them create custom solutions or modify off-the-shelf solutions to meet their needs. Additionally, the ability to maintain and update current software solutions keeps those with programming skills busy, even when new developments aren’t in the works.

 

Since demand in these areas is higher than ever, competition for top talent is driving salaries upward. Additionally, the need to support these developments in the future offers a certain level of job security, especially if unemployment and available talent remain low.

2. Help Desk

With the number of technology solutions being made available as a service, many are surprised to find help desk professionals are also in high demand. Even though many solutions aren’t being managed in-house, the number of employees using technology on a daily basis crawls ever higher. Since tech is so well integrated into most business landscapes, having onsite support is critical, especially in fast-paced fields like healthcare.

 

Often, the challenge surrounding these hiring objectives revolve around the diverse knowledge base these tech pros must possess. Add to that the fast-paced nature of the work, and it’s no wonder these skills can lead to favorable gains in areas like salary and benefits.

3. Security

Security threats change on a daily basis, and it requires a strong skill set to flourish in such an ever-evolving field. Add to that the increasing complexity of the technological landscape, and it’s no surprise companies are struggling to find the talent they need.

 

Within business, security goes beyond the basic needs of desktops and traditional networks. Now, mobile devices and cloud solutions add layers of complexity for employees, and IoT brings in an additional aspect that is still relatively new for many organizations. IT professionals with knowledge in these areas are well-positioned for success not just in today’s job market, but into tomorrow’s as well.

 

If you are a tech pro looking to put your skills to work with a new job, the professional recruiters at The Armada Group can help you make the most of your experience. Contact us to discuss your career goals and see everything we have to offer.

 

Published in Staffing News
Monday, Apr 17 2017

The Future of Chatbots

Chat Bots

 

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.

Complexity

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.

Accuracy

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.

 

11 Decision Makers RESIZE

Excitement over the potential found in data and analytics may lead you to believe that decision-makers consider the information critical to making business decisions. In fact, some leaders find it difficult to use the results to make calls that previously relied on their own experience and instincts.

This idea seems to be in contrast to hiring activities within the IT field. Even though many companies understand the value of the information they hold and are hiring competent professionals to manage and review the data, there are still serious doubts in the upper echelons regarding the reliability of the information they have hired people to provide.

However, it is important to understand that the mistrust is not necessarily in the quality of the IT professionals working in the space. Instead, it is a hesitance to change a major component of how business is traditionally done. While the insights offered by advanced data and analytics may not be inherently in question, changing how decisions are made within any organization can be challenging, especially for those who have operated in a particular fashion for the majority of their careers.

Trust Takes Time

Depending on your generation, previous experiences or industry, your trust in data may vary. While those who have focused their careers on data and technology may be more open to what these processes have to offer, people who have not focused their careers on tech-based analysis may be hesitant to shift the decision-making power based on a new mechanism.

Questions regarding the accuracy of the data being collected, as well as how it is leveraged, leave some wanting. In fact, many executives even feel being overly reliant on this information can put their organizations at risk. However, as more businesses look to analytics for guidance, the level of comfort may increase.

C-Level Support is Required

If a company wants to use more data and analytics to assist in decision-making, the organization needs buy off from those at the top of the proverbial food chain. When C-level executives are hesitant to get behind the findings, any subsequent attempts at data-driven action may be thwarted before they even had a chance to be explored.

There are still questions relating to the reliability of data-driven decision making, especially since traditional decision-making approaches are distinctly more common in today’s workplace. Additionally, anxiety around the analytics lifecycle increases as the business dives deeper into the process. Even if support is relatively high at the point where issues of data sourcing are being discussed, it is comparatively non-existent when it comes to deploying solutions and measuring the effectiveness of the actions.

Data and Analytics Leaders Must Step Forward

Leaders in the areas of data and analytics will need to alleviate any concerns regarding the use of data-driven insights in the decision-making process. Ultimately, they will be responsible for creating the trust necessary to allow these projects to move forward in a corporate environment.

If your business is ready to see everything that data and analytics have to offer, The Armada Group can help the tech professionals you need to make the transition into a new way of thinking easier. Contact us to speak with one of our professional recruiters and see how we can help you modernize your decision-making processes.

8 Skills Deficit

The Internet of Things (IoT) has gained significant attention across the business landscape. Connected products and integrated technologies have businesses eager to take advantage of new developments in the arena. However, the talent required to manage this changing IT landscape isn’t readily available. Shortages in available data scientists, security personnel and wireless networking specialists have made it difficult to fill current openings. And demand is only expected to grow as we enter 2017.

IoT Requires Specific Skills

Not everyone working in the IT professions have the skill sets required to meet the needs of this changing technical environment. IoT technologies involve specialized hardware and software, and new network protocols. Advanced security measures are required to maintain network and data integrity, and big data analytics have a starring role in these developments.

 

Since each of these specialties may be covered by different IT professionals, a business must have a diverse team to move forward with these new technologies. Having a skills deficit within the team can cause development to practically halt until the missing talents are either acquired or added. This means that financial investments in training, recruiting or both, may be required to keep projects moving forward.

IT Unemployment is Incredibly Low

Unemployment rates for tech professionals are currently 2.8 percent, well below the national average of 4.9 percent. This means that demand for IT skills is incredibly high when compared to the number of professionals available. The lack of talented IT professionals means compensating for skills deficits will be even more challenging, especially in fledgling fields like big data analytics.

 

Unemployment rates are expected to stay low as more baby boomers reach retirement age as there are not enough potential employees to replace all of those who will be leaving. While talented individuals can be wooed away from their current employers, other businesses may be pursuing your employees in turn. The low unemployment rates also allow professionals to feel more secure about voluntarily quitting a position to search for greener pastures, as the current expectation is that new opportunities can be found quickly.

 

This means that organizations will need to offer highly competitive wages and benefits to attract new talent and retain current top performers. Often, that means companies have to be willing to invest before the benefits of the new hires are fully realized. Some businesses may be hesitant to dedicate funds based on the potential of IoT but may be unable to enter the field without taking the risk.

A Fight for the Future of Tech

Both of these factors mean that many businesses may not be able to pursue the projects they have recently had their eye on. Until the required skills become more prevalent in the workforce, finding suitable candidates to fulfill your needs will remain a challenge. The Armada Group can help you locate top talent to advance your IoT endeavours. Contact us to speak with one of our professional recruiters about your current needs and what we have to offer.

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