Last month, David Marcus, who is heading up Facebook’s digital currency (Libra) project, sat before Congress to face questions about the tech giant’s currency. Much of the discussion shed very little light onto the matter. However, one question did let people learn something valuable. Facebook can’t properly define the nature of the digital currency until policymakers make certain decisions.
Facebook also asserts that Libra could potentially create a new global financial infrastructure and that it could possibly serve billions of people. This means Facebook could change the face of the financial world with its project, depending on how it actually comes to fruition.
While IBM is certainly a tech giant by today’s standards, it isn’t the industry leader it once was in the eyes of many. While the company has been around since 1911 – showing that it is certainly doing many things right – IBM has lost some of its perceived sparkle, but it is working on getting it back.
In IBM’s research division, researchers work diligently to identify trends in the world of technology and help businesses adapt to what is coming. At one point, the company was also a leader in artificial intelligence (AI), though many newcomers later took over the spotlight, unseating the amazing development that was Watson.
However, IBM is striving to regain its AI crown, partnering with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and other universities to study and focus on emerging technology. Here is a closer look at how IBM is using AI to make its big comeback.
While most companies understand that embracing automation is smart business, many leaders are only beginning to grasp the nuances of what is available today. Even as robotic process automation (RPA) garners more attention, not everyone fully understands what the technology can do.
If you are one of the many who is wondering what RPA entails, here’s what you need to know.
What Robotic Process Automation Is
At its simplest, RPA is a form of business process automation that takes advantage of next-level artificial intelligence (AI). It creates a mechanism to remove manual tasks that are highly repetitive and tedious from the hands of your staff, creating a way to increase overall efficiency.
At a deeper level, RPA is a technology that allows humans to create software that can accomplish specific tasks within existing applications, such as processing a transaction, triggering responses, leveraging data, or communicating with other systems. It makes the most of both APIs and user interfaces to fully automate a business process from end-to-end.
RPA also have the ability to combine the work of a human user with the software, creating more potential service capabilities. These solutions are often considered hybrids, but embrace RPA at their core as a means of boosting productivity.
What Robotic Process Automation Isn’t
RPA isn’t necessarily a method for reducing staff requirements or eliminating certain professions. Instead, it’s a technology that empowers employees to focus on tasks that genuinely necessitate a human touch, such as customer-centric activities or those that require creative thinking.
While it may help lighten workloads, RPA is more often seen as an opportunity to reassess staff priorities and realign their duties and objectives to make the most of the new paradigm. Employees can be more productive or branch out into new arenas, creating pathways for growth that can benefit both the workers and the company as a whole.
The Benefits of Robotic Process Automation
Typically, RPA allows monotonous tasks to be handled by a technology instead of your workers. Often, these are some of the most hated duties in the company, so allowing them to be managed by a machine can actually boost morale.
Additionally, it gives your staff the ability to focus on more revenue-generating, customer-centric, or innovative activities. This can enhance productivity and profitability while also providing a business a competitive edge over companies that have yet to embrace the power of the technology.
Ultimately, RPA can be a valuable tool for any company, particularly those who leverage it to enhance productivity and create the needed space to promote innovation and discovery or provide better support to potential and existing customers.
If you would like to know more about robotic process automation or are seeking an IT professional with RPA experience to help implement the technology in your company, the experienced staff at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable team members today and see how our expertise can benefit you.
As a means of securing the highest caliber of IT talent, more companies are embracing remote teams. Not only does this broaden their available talent pools, it also ensures a person’s physical location is largely irrelevant when it comes to hiring. As long as the employee has access to a reliable internet connection and the right tools, they can be just as productive from practically anywhere.
However, if you want to craft a truly remarkable IT team, then you need to manage them properly. Often, this requires company leaders to rethink how they operate, abandoning old paradigms that don’t always work when overseeing a remote workforce.
If you want your remote IT team to be as successful as possible, here are some tips that can help you manage them effectively.
With remote teams, how you delegate tasks is crucial to your success. Since your employees aren’t physically together, you need to assign activities based on who is most capable of providing the ideal result. This means concentrating more on the quality of the outputs and less on the methods used to achieve them, giving your remote workers the option to select the approach they prefer.
Additionally, it means putting a higher focus on accountability. The remote IT team member assigned to the task must take full responsibility for its completion and success, giving them a sense of ownership and potentially creating a source of motivation.
Focus on Trust
When you manage a remote team, trust is essential. After all, you don’t have the ability to peek in on their work by simply strolling over to their desk. Instead, you have to have faith they can use their expertise to deliver the desired results, even if they aren’t directly observed.
However, with remote teams, you don’t always have the opportunity to build trust before you empower them to take ownership of a task. Instead, you have to extend it first and give them a chance to rise to the occasion, believing they will live up to their end of the bargain practically from the beginning.
While this approach can seem odd, it’s a necessity. Micromanaging a remote team is nearly impossible, so attempting to do so will only breed frustration. But, if you empower them with trust, you give them a chance to thrive.
Make Success Collective
With remote teams, you are often their touchstone, acting as their primary connection to the larger organization. When your IT team achieves a victory, they may not receive accolades from other members of the leadership team simply because they aren’t in the same physical space.
This means you need to help fill that void. Acknowledge and even celebrate group victories often, and strive to show your appreciation for their contributions regularly. Without recognition, your remote IT pros may feel undervalued, and that can harm morale, productivity, and retention rates.
By recognizing everyone’s accomplishments, you demonstrate how valuable they are to you, their teammates, and the company, and that can go a long way when you want to craft a successful remote IT team.
If you are interested in learning more or are looking for IT pros to join your staff, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to learn more about our services today and see how our workforce management expertise can benefit you.
Over the past few years, the number of H-1B visa applications has largely risen. Companies embraced it as an opportunity to find skilled foreign workers to fill vacant positions, particularly in the tech sector where low unemployment and growing skill gaps in the American workforce have made hiring a challenge.
However, recent data suggest the pattern has possibly changed, indicating tech firms may be seeking alternatives to H-1B visas.
The H-1B visa program gives American businesses the ability to secure non-immigrant foreign professionals to work for their company. It was designed to ensure companies could access skills and abilities when they aren’t presented in their current workforce and aren’t available in their area.
For the 2018-2019 filing period, the number of petitions dropped by approximately 4 percent, signaling a shift in company mentality regarding the program. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stated only 190,098 petitions were filed for that time, a notable drop from the approximately 236,000 petitions received in 2016.
Reason for the Drop
After President Donald Trump was elected, he quickly declared his intention to overhaul the H1-B visa program. This included making the requirements more stringent across the board, including for initial selections and renewals as well as H-4 visas for spouses of H-1B workers.
The intention was to encourage companies to hire Americans and other legal immigrants in lieu of using the H-1B program, and it may have worked.
A reduced number of petitions suggests businesses aren’t turning to H-1B visas as a potential solution as often. Some may have decided to reduce their number of petitions fearing that the chance for approval was shrinking, particularly since the requirements are harder to meet. Others may have become more diligent about finding alternatives, lowering their need for the program based on updated hiring practices.
However, even with the policy changes and the initial reduction in petitions, it’s too soon to tell if this year’s decline is a one-off or a sign of a new pattern emerging. This may be an indication that companies were hesitant to submit petitions based on the Trump administration’s stance and various announcements about increased difficulty in obtaining approval. But this could shift again after the current period finishes and the state of the approved or rejected petitions becomes more widely known.
Ultimately, the H-1B visa program is still in flux. The full impact of the policy updates is not yet known, and additional changes may be on the horizon, sending the program into a different direction.
At this point, it’s safe to say companies are seeking out alternatives that allow them to locate citizens and legal immigrants for their vacancies, instead of using the program. If you are currently seeking skilled professionals for your job openings, the team at The Armada Group can connect you with some of the area’s top talent. Contact us to discuss your hiring needs today and see how our services can benefit you.
Hiring managers understand the time, energy, and resources it takes to hire a new employee. Often, this is what makes retention so important, as being able to keep your best and brightest on staff is obviously preferred over having to find their replacement.
But many companies struggle to understand why some workers stay with the business and others leave. This is especially true if there are no known issues and the employee seems generally satisfied.
Luckily, there is a way to gather additional information that can help you with your retention efforts. By conducting stay interviews, you gain access to powerful insights, allowing to your do more to keep your top talent working for the company.
What Are Stay Interviews?
A stay interview is a conversation that functions similarly to an exit interview. It’s a discussion where the employee can provide feedback on the organization.
However, instead of waiting for the team member to provide their notice, a stay interview happens while the person is a part of your staff.
Why You Need to Conduct Stay Interviews
While exit interviews provide valuable information, they occur at a time where it is nearly impossible to convince that employee to stay on board, even if you are willing to make changes. A stay interview happens while the worker is still a permanent part of your staff, so the information you receive can create opportunities for action.
By giving your star performers a chance to participate in a stay interview, you can find out what is working for them and what they think could use improvement. Then, you can make reasonable adjustments to provide the employee with what they need so that they are open to remaining with the company for the long-term.
How to Conduct Stay Interviews
Stay interviews need to be one-on-one, giving the employee a sense of privacy and allowing them to be the focus. These meetings should be conducted in person, as a survey usually won’t provide you with the level of detail a conversation can, and the opinions of your best and brightest won’t get lost in the shuffle.
Work to ask probing questions that will produce honest answers. Resist the urge to interject, regardless of how you feel about what is being said, as becoming defensive may lead the employee to hold back, ensuring you won’t get the desired result.
Let the worker know that their feedback is valued and that their responses may help shape the future of the company. Ultimately, you want to know what will keep them interested and engaged on the job and what they value as well as any issues they’ve experienced that haven’t been addressed.
By conducting stay interviews, you can boost your retention rates through right-action. If you are interested in learning more or are seeking a skilled professional to join your team, the employment specialists at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members and see how our services can benefit your company today.
Whether you are short-staffed, inundated with projects, or your team is simply overwhelmed by their current workload, leading a team that feels stretched to the limit can be a challenge. Often, you are in the weeds with them, struggling to make time for all of the tasks that are on your plate. However, supporting your staff during this crucial time is also vital, particularly if you want to ensure that things don’t become more difficult.
Figuring out how to lead your overwhelmed team isn’t always intuitive, so here are some tips to get you started.
Fight for Your People
When tension in the workplace becomes common, and employees are straining to keep up, making sure you have their back is more important than ever. This includes ensuring that no one is unwittingly thrown under the bus for situations that aren’t their doing, as well as letting your team know that you are here for them when the going gets tough.
At times, this may involve you standing up to other managers on your workers’ behalf, be it to protect their reputation when something goes awry or turning down a project that is only going to overwhelm them further.
By fighting for your people, you provide them with a sense of security, and that can go a long way during stressful times.
Plan Stress Relieving Activities
Sometimes, the easiest way to deal with stress is to release it, and it often isn’t difficult to integrate an appropriate activity into your team’s day. Anything from giving them a physical space where they can actually scream out loud (a great tension reliever!) or stealing a moment to share something funny can help, and they only take a moment to do.
Another approach is to help them step away from their desks, even for just a few minutes. Some companies have embraced short walking meetings, where professionals discuss their current project statuses while taking a quick stroll. A little movement can be incredibly beneficial and, if the weather allows, doing it outdoors can be especially refreshing.
Avoid Tunnel Vision
While adamantly pursuing goals can be an excellent leadership trait, being overly focused on one can actually be harmful, especially if it blinds you to potential problems that you would otherwise notice during less stressful times. If part of your team’s stress is based on constantly stretching for a goal that seemingly remains out of reach, it is wise to stop and reevaluate the objective instead of fervently charging forward.
This is particularly true is circumstances have changed, as a goal that was great yesterday might not be realistic today. When this occurs, examine the updated information and formulate a new target that encourages your team. Flexibility here is the key, as just a simple change can have a significant impact.
Supplement Your Staff
Being understaffed for the workload is almost guaranteed to increase stress and frustration, so don’t be afraid to bring in an extra set of hands when it is truly needed. Whether you add a permanent team member or a temporary worker, having someone else available to manage some of the tasks can do wonders for morale while allowing their feelings of being overwhelmed to diminish.
If you are interested in hiring a permanent or temporary employee, the professionals at The Armada Group can connect you with some of today’s top talent. Contact us to see how our services can benefit you and your team today.
When companies think of digital disruption, they often focus on the businesses that used technology to change a notable paradigm within the business world. How Amazon changed retail, Netflix changed retails, and Uber changed transportation are all examples of digital disruptions in their respective sectors, with their development fundamentally changing how business is done.
But digital disruption isn’t limited to companies that change the game. Any technology that enters the world and affects how goods and services are produced or delivered can qualify. For example, the prevalence of mobile technology, the rise of IoT, and the increase of cloud services are all digital disrupters that provide value to businesses operating in almost every sector. And they are often critical for growth.
New Operational Models
Digital disruptions often force companies to update their operational models to stay competitive. But, along the way, they allow businesses to have opportunities to become more efficient. For example, mobile devices have changed how people work and how consumers shop. While adapting to the new technology required significant process changes, the result provides opportunities for increased productivity and higher sales.
As a new technology enters the market, it allows companies to refocus. They can take advantage of what the tech provides to improve operations and reduce costs. Then, the business can reinvest in areas critical to their development.
Developments in IoT have exposed companies to more data than ever before, and that means increased opportunities to capitalize on the information. Add to that advances in big data and analytics, and businesses can find answers to questions that may have seemed impossible to answer even a few years before.
The ability to learn about how customers think and buy, or how operations are completed during production, give organizations a chance to adjust more quickly than previously. Real-time information can provide feedback in a way that supports immediate action, making businesses more nimble within their market space or in how they do business.
Proper Management is Required
To make digital disruptions work for your business, it is important to view them as opportunities worth exploring and not just challenges that must be dealt with. Consider how these technologies can improve your operations and see if it make sense to integrate them into your workplace.
If you are looking for IT professionals that can help you take advantage of everything today’s digital disruptions have to offer, the recruitment experts at The Armada Group can help you find the right candidates based on your hiring goals. Contact us to see how highly skilled workers can help you keep pace with today’s advancements.
Google has taken a strong stance against online harassment, leading to the development and release of its latest tool: Perspective. But how does this new tool help shut down trolls before they can do real harm? By bringing machine learning into the battle.
Perspective is designed to review comments left by users on sites using the technology. As it does, each one is rated based on how potentially toxic the comment is to the larger discussion. The model was trained using hundreds of thousands of comments that were deemed toxic by people who viewed them, creating a framework for the operation.
Language and Context
The Perspective API is an offering from Google’s Jigsaw division, a group that increased its efforts in the troll-fighting arena in late 2016. The hope is to create solutions that understand the nuances of human language to identify abusive comments.
In its current iteration, Perspective is able to detect insults and potentially harassing comments based on word choice and overall comment construction. Once detected, the comment is scored based on its perceived threat level, often yielding results with higher levels of accuracy than traditional keyword blacklists and with a speed that far outperforms a traditional human moderator.
Goals of Perspective
The goal behind Google’s Perspective is to prevent the posting of potentially harmful comments, at least until they can be reviewed by a site admin or other moderating authority. Comments containing potentially inappropriate content can be flagged for review or removed until they have been specifically approved for display. This can help sites take greater control over the conversations if the content of a message appears to be harmful to their readership.
The Perspective API also provides value on the user end. In some cases, a comment can be reviewed before posting, alerting the commenter to the potentially toxic language before they even submit it to the conversation. Another application involves allowing readers to sort comments based on their potential level of toxicity, helping viewers to avoid potentially harassing comments in cases where they aren’t automatically removed.
There is some concern that solutions like Perspective could be used to censor comments instead of simply creating a safe space for participants. For example, quotes from people involved in current new stories could be automatically removed should the words be considered potentially abusive, even though the discussion is focused on a story about their use. Additionally, it could allow a site to remove comments that don’t speak to their point of view regardless of whether the language or tone is appropriate, limiting free discussion about topics that may be controversial in nature.
However, some point out that the use of blacklists can also yield similar results, especially since they are incapable of adjusting for context. Additionally, Perspective is intended to be a step in the comment moderation process and not the sole determining factor in what should be removed and what should stay.
Ultimately, Perspective is a tool designed to help moderators maintain control over potential harassment more effectively than currently available solutions. Only time will tell if the efforts actually yield positive results.
If you are interested in learning more about today’s technology developments, are looking for a new job in an IT field, or need to find top tech candidates for an open position, The Armada Group can help you on your way. Contact us to speak with a recruitment professional about your needs today.
It’s just a fact; not everyone working has a job they love. In some cases, people head out the door every day to end up at a job they downright loath. But being in a bad IT job doesn’t mean there isn’t some value in the experience. In fact, it can actually be a catalyst to bigger and better things. So, before you decide that everything to do with the less than stellar position isn’t of use, here are some learning opportunities that even a bad tech job can provide.
A Better Work/Life Balance
When your job doesn’t provide much satisfaction, it is common to turn to other activities to get the fulfillment you need. This can include anything from hobbies to education to personal business pursuits. Additionally, you are less inclined to take your home with you, freeing you from a sense of obligation others may hold. As you look for more value from your home life, it is often easier to attain the work/life balance many people crave, and that can be a wonderful thing.
The Value of Perseverance
If you can’t immediately leave a bad IT job for greener pastures, you often get the exercise a valuable soft skill: perseverance. You have to dedicate yourself to finishing your tasks and meeting deadlines, even if you find the experience less than enjoyable, as this ensures you have positive references when the time comes to move on. Over time, your dedication can lead to new opportunities, too.
In some cases, you’ll find your current job helps you find an opportunity at a better company. In others, you may get to see your workplace change. People often come and go in any business. And, if the right people leave or come in, your once bad job may actually turn into something you enjoy.
Learning to Let Go
We aren’t all born optimists. However, being stuck in a less than ideal IT position can’t consume your whole life. Instead, you get to practice a valuable life skill as you learn to let go of what ails you. In time, you’ll learn to spot the brighter side of things within your life to help keep you moving forward on a day-to-day basis. And, with some practice, you may even find yourself assuming the new title of an optimist.
Take Every Advantage
Since your job doesn’t meet your needs overall, consider every advantage it could have to offer you and your future. Then, pursue them with all your might. Every chance to learn a new skill or explore a new technology should be grasped with both hands. Then, when it comes time to head out the door, you have more to offer than when you started in the position.
If you are looking for new opportunities to replace your bad IT job, The Armada Group can help you find positions that may offer what your current one lacks. Contact us today and see what the future may hold once you find a job that gives you something to smile about on its own.