Empathy

 

As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more ingrained in the workplace, professionals will spend less of their time on tedious, repetitive tasks and more on activities that require specific cognitive skills that machines don’t currently possess. The ability to the nuances of the human experience can largely only be done by actual human beings. However, there are companies that are looking to change that paradigm by introducing the concept of empathy into AI.

 

Understanding Empathy

Empathy is traditionally viewed as a human characteristic. It involves being able to see something from the perspective of another, proverbially being able to put yourself “in their shoes.” By adopting another person’s viewpoint, even for a moment, it is easier to increase the benefit experienced when two people interact. Often, this is seen as a key to successful customer service outcomes as well as increasing employee satisfaction.

 

However, empathy isn’t flawless. It requires drawing on your own experiences and memory to assume how someone else is perceiving a situation. Since no two people have the exact same life experience, this means that there can be disconnects between the parties even when a significant amount of effort is put into the interaction.

 

Additionally, emotions are complex and powerful. Being able to assess the emotional state of another person accurately is incredibly beneficial, as it allows you to adjust your approach based on how they are feeling. But picking up on certain cues can be a challenge as different signals mean different things to different people.

 

 

Empathy in Technology

While an AI system can’t necessarily “feel,” that doesn’t mean it couldn’t potentially assess someone’s emotional state and use that information to adapt its responses. Sensor technology, machine vision, and audio analysis can measure specific signals that indicate particular emotions in real-time, giving an AI the ability to mimic empathy.

 

For example, an EKG can measure a person’s heart rate variations, helping to pinpoint increased levels that may indicate excitement, fear, or boredom. Changes in a person’s voice, such as tone, volume, or cadence, can signal anything from relaxation to anger. Facial expressions, no matter how minor, may also provide information about a person’s emotional state.

 

By integrating the proper sensors and technologies into an AI, chatbots could adjust their approach to a customer inquiry based on their perceived emotional state.

 

In fact, some of the technology already exists. There are solutions that allow call center representatives can receive data from an AI that alerts them to changes in the customer’s voice that suggest a shift in how they feel, empowering the employee to make certain adjustments quickly to de-escalate problems.

 

Over time, empathy, something we perceive as a human trait, may be integrated into AI and other technologies, allowing machines to mimic a level of emotional intelligence that was previously impossible.

 

If you are interested in learning more, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to discuss your business needs today and see how our expertise can benefit you.

 

 

Published in Recruiting
Monday, Jan 15 2018

Can Net Neutrality Be Saved?

Net Neutrality

 

When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal the policies associated with net neutrality – rules governing how internet service providers (ISPs) must handle web traffic – many people and companies feared how the change would affect their online experience. While ISPs now have more options regarding how traffic is managed, the tenants of net neutrality aren’t necessarily gone forever. Here’s what you need to know.

 

Are Changes Coming?

The repeal of net neutrality means that one significant change has already occurred, as the rules by which ISPs have to adhere have fundamentally been altered. But, the exact nature of how internet service will change isn’t immediately known, as it will take time for any supplier to adjust their operating procedures should they decide to take advantage of the shift.

 

For example, an ISP could begin favoring traffic associated with their own content now (which was prohibited under the net neutrality regulations), but the mechanisms that would need to be updated to do so aren’t necessarily in place yet, depending on the ISP involved.

 

Additionally, there are some legal challenges to the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality, which will take time to resolve, and new legislation is also in the works that, if passed, could restore some of the tenants of net neutrality, possibly before any ISP has an opportunity to change how they operate.

 

 

Will Every ISP Abandon Net Neutrality?

Not every internet provider is going to take full advantage of the rule changes associated with the repeal of net neutrality. Some companies may shift their offerings based on some of the additional freedoms, but others might not.

 

Large ISPs, like Comcast, have dropped hints that they might offer “fast lanes,” arrangements where companies can gain better access to the network in exchange for a fee, but essentially every provider has stated that they do not intend to block lawful traffic or throttle traffic to specific sites. And, if an ISP makes this commitment in their terms of service, failing to live up to their promises could result in legal action, enforceable by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). However, that doesn’t mean that users might not experience some speed differences, with sites that have paid for a fast lane loading more quickly than their counterparts who chose not to, or cannot afford, the required fee.

 

But not every ISP plans on making changes. In fact, some smaller, regional providers have openly stated that they intend to follow the rules of net neutrality, even if they aren’t legally obligated to do so. Additionally, new legislation has been proposed that would restore some of the tenants, though it is too early to say if these will pass.

 

Ultimately, it is too early to tell for certain if the concepts behind net neutrality will disappear, and some actions, like new legislation or successful legal challenges, could leave much of the original rules intact. However, even if the changes do go forward in entirety, not every ISP is going to alter how they operate, allowing individuals and businesses to switch their services to another provider if their current ISP no longer meets their needs.

 

If you are interested in learning more, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with a member of our knowledgeable staff today.

 

 

Published in IT Infrastructure

Millennials

 

Even though Millennials make up the largest portion of the current workforce, many companies struggle when it comes to recruiting them for open position. Often, this is because Millennials have different preferences when compared to previous generations, and failing to update certain offerings based on their needs makes the business a less attractive employer.

 

If you are struggling to recruit Millennials, here’s what you need to know.

 

What Millennials are Seeking

Millennial workers aren’t always enticed by traditional benefits like healthcare options and retirement plans as previous generations. While they still value those opportunities, they place a greater emphasis on cultural fit and the grander purpose behind their work.

 

Additionally, Millennials tend to value experiences over material possessions, so they seek out companies that will provide them with chances to learn and grow professionally, often favoring those benefits over more physically-oriented perks.

 

Why Companies Struggle

Typically, businesses find it difficult to recruit Millennials when they aren’t sufficiently prepared to meet their needs and preferences, particularly if a competitor company is capable of offering what they hope to find. To gain the attention of these job seekers, you need to have a culture that suits their preferences and benefits that provide them with what they consider valuable.

 

In some cases, hiring managers can actually drive away Millennials, especially if they subscribe to some of the stereotypes associated with this generation. If hiring managers are automatically skeptical of Millennials, it will come through during interviews or may lead them to screen out applicants who appear to be from Gen Y before they are even invited in.

 

Luckily, there are things you can do to correct any issues that may make your company less attractive to Millennials. This includes reviewing your culture to determine if it meets their needs and generating benefits that speak to their preferences, like mentorship programs and opportunities to experience new things.

 

Additionally, you need to make sure that your hiring managers aren’t harboring negative stereotypes that may be harmful to your recruitment goals. To do so, consider having them reframe their concerns to see how these characteristics could actually be an advantage.

 

For example, Millennials may be seen as job hoppers but, if the worker has changed positions and each one was a step forward in their career, the new opportunities actually demonstrate their professional drive. In those cases, creating succession plans that can help them advance gives them the change to keep moving along their career path and gives you a chance to help groom your next leader.

 

With just a few adjustments, you can make strides towards recruiting more Millennial candidates, which is incredibly relevant as they continue to become a larger part of the workforce. If you are looking to hire a new employee, the recruitment specialists at The Armada Group can connect you with some of today’s top talent. Contact us to see how our services can reshape your recruitment strategy today.

 

 

Published in Recruiting

Tech Resume

 

Your resume serves as an introduction, giving hiring managers an overview of what you have to offer. Since this document serves as your first point of contact, and you can be discarded without any further interaction, having it make the best impression possible is the key to getting an interview. If you want to be the company’s number one choice, your resume needs to send the right message. Here are some tips on how you can boost your resume, so you can score that interview.

Get Your Contact Information Right

In many cases, a streamlined approach to you contact information is wise. Go ahead and skip full addresses in favor of just your city and state, and bypass labeling each piece of information unless it is absolutely necessary. For example, the vast majority of people know what a phone number looks like, so labeling it “phone” or “cell” is just unnecessary. The same can be said for email addresses as well.

Keyword Load Your Headline and Summary

You want your headline and summary to really draw the hiring manager in, so make sure any skills that were presented as must-haves in the job announcement are front and center, and listed using the same language as you found in the vacancy description.

 

But don’t stop with simply listing skills. Instead, keyword load your headline and use the summary speak about how you can provide value to the business. Explain how your prior experience and industry knowledge apply to the organization and position, and avoid repeating any skills you listed in the headline unless absolutely necessary.

Adjust Your Job Titles

Companies can use any title they want to describe a job, and not all of the options translate easily into something relatable to the hiring manager. So, if your current or previous employers used a unique naming convention, clarify it within a set of parentheses next to the non-traditional title. You can also use the same technique to describe a position that involved duties associated with more than one specialty.

Summarize Positions First, Bullet Accomplishments Second

Once you’ve straightened out the title, dedicate the next line to a headline based on the job, and the following few lines to briefly describe the position. Focus on the results achieved during your time with the company as well as key skills you used to achieve objectives, especially if they aren’t covered elsewhere in your resume.

 

After that, add a few bullet points that describe quantifiable accomplishment during your time in the position. This helps demonstrate your value to the business and shows you can produce measurable results.

 

By making these small changes, you can make a better first impression with hiring managers and increase your chances of being their top choice for the position. If you want to learn more about designing a winning resume or are interested in new employment opportunities, the professional recruiters at The Armada Group want to hear from you. Contact us today to see how our expertise can help you land your ideal job.

 

 

Published in Recruiting

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.

 

DevOps

 

Demand for DevOps engineers is on the rise. Companies look at the approach as a method for automating processes, saving both time and money through increased efficiency. But since DevOps is more of a strategy than a defined process, it can be challenging to determine what skills they businesses are actually focused on when hiring.

 

If you are interested in landing a position in DevOps, here are the skills you need to have to get further in your career.

Experience with the Right Tools and Languages

When looking for a DevOps professional, companies target those with expertise in the right infrastructure automation tools and programming languages. Being familiar with tools like Ansible, Chef, Docker, Puppet, SaltStack, and Windows PowerShell DSC is going to help you stand out from the crowd. Additionally, experience in web languages like Java, Python, PHP, and Ruby are considered essentials for workers focused on DevOps.

Strong Soft Skills

Collaboration is fundamental to the DevOps approach to projects. Professionals with multiple specialties are involved in the development life cycle, and being able to communicate effectively with everyone involved is critical to the success of a project.

 

Additionally, the ability to consult with clients and build business relationships is also critical. At times, even negotiation skills may come into play.

 

DevOps professionals need to display their expertise in areas like problem-solving, team-building, and other interpersonal communications skills to be considered a top candidate for an available position.

Understanding of Continuous Integration

A fundamental part of DevOps is continuous integration (CI). The process allows source code updates to be rolled in whenever the need arises. The focus is on continual improvement and simultaneous input from all teams instead of completing a product from beginning to end, with each team taking their turn then sending the product on to the next group. It also provides a method for increased engagement across all team members through the development of the project.

 

Various CI tools that DevOps worker should learn include Bamboo, CruiseControl, Jenkins, ThoughtWorks’ Go, and Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server.

Project Management

At its core, DevOps is an approach to project management, so experience with the latter supports your efforts with the former. Whether you choose to pursue formal training and certification or have the opportunity to learn the skills on the job, demonstrating your prior experience with project management will help you qualify for DevOps jobs more easily than trying to go forward without them.

 

Other IT skills can also be helpful in DevOps, including experience deploying code, programming applications, managing databases, and more. However, those listed above can be seen as some of the most important when you are interested in developing a career dedicated to DevOps.

 

If you are interested in finding a DevOps position, The Armada Group can match you with relevant opportunities in your area based on your level of expertise. Contact us to discuss your career goals with one of our professional recruiters today.

 

Published in Staffing News

MySQL

 

Even as rising technologies associated with big data and IoT dominate discussions regarding hard data is managed, MySQL professionals are still critical for many organizations. In many cases, new skill sets are designed to supplement MySQL where it is in use, and aren’t intended to replace the system. With that in mind, pursuing a career as a MySQL DBA can lead to strong job opportunities even as the use of data continues to grow and change. And here’s why.

MySQL is Cost-Effective

Managing expenses is always a priority in business, and MySQL is a solution that meets those goals. The open source solution often features low licensing costs, making it easy for businesses to fit into their IT budgets. Additionally, the cost of ownership is similarly low.

 

But the low cost doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful. It’s high speed and superior reliability makes it a particularly good choice for industries that need to limit downtime. And that means professionals familiar with the system as still very much a hot commodity in today’s market.

It’s Used by Top Companies

MySQL has a prominent role in many top companies. In fact, it is a preferred choice for many businesses, especially those focused on Web 2.0, SaaS, ISV, and Telecommunications. The high amount of reliability is critical for companies operating in these areas, as downtime due to failures, maintenance, administration, or other tasks is practically unacceptable in the eyes of consumers. The system uses master-slave configurations coupled with cluster servers to provide uninterrupted access, making it an ideal selection for businesses that need to remain accessible at all times.

On-Demand Scalability

One of the biggest benefits of MySQL is its high level of flexibility. The solution is highly scalable and can be customized to meet the unique needs of individual businesses. It provides a solid platform for large enterprises who need to integrate various features and functions within their database servers, and can easily be expanded when business needs change.

 

As companies continue to acquire large amounts of data, having a solution that can grow quickly is a boon. And that means skilled professionals are needed to make that happen whenever the need arises.

 

In the end, MySQL is seen as efficient, cost-effective, and reliable, all of which are highly valued by a range or organizations. Professionals with the skills to support MySQL will remain in high demand even as other data-oriented technologies enter the workplace, as few options have the ability to beat MySQL in these key areas.

 

If you are interested in a career as a MySQL DBA or other opportunities in IT, the professional recruiters at The Armada Group can match you to relevant positions in your area. Contact us today to see how MySQL skills can help further your career.

 

Friday, Feb 17 2017

Is Code Coverage Effective?

code coverage

 

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.

 

taking risks

 

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.

Armada Tach Skills

Businesses have reevaluated their goals and determined their IT budgets in preparation for 2017. Along with that comes plans regarding which tech skills will be a priority. And, even though unemployment in IT is still especially low, having the most in-demand tech skills positions you to take advantage of everything the job market has to offer. To help you on your way to career success, here are the seven tech skills you need to excel in 2017.

1. Software Programming and Development

Companies are typically allocating larger portions of their budgets to software programming and development, increasing the demand for those with the proper skills. Whether businesses are interested customizing off-the-shelf products or want to develop from scratch, developers and programmers are needed to make those goals a reality.

Along with high demand comes higher salaries, so pursuing or furthering a career in software programming and development can be a highly lucrative path.

2. Help Desk Technical Support

Help desk professionals often don’t get a lot of glory, but they are critical to the operations of large enterprises. Being able to manage incoming trouble tickets effectively, while also improving processes and procedures is incredibly valuable.

Success in these positions requires a fairly wide knowledge base, and that isn’t always easy to find, especially at Tier 2 or Tier 3 levels. If you enjoy diversity in your daily tasks, then focusing on Help Desk operations may be ideal.

3. Security

It’s no surprise security will remain a priority. Threats change constantly, so having skilled professionals who are able to keep up with the shifting demands of these critical positions will be a top concern for more organizations. Positions will be available in larger enterprises, as well as consulting options for those who prefer to work with a variety of businesses to help them meet their needs.

4. Cloud Services

The cloud is now considered fairly mainstream technology. Many companies have already invested in cloud storage and services, including SaaS, and those that haven’t may be contemplating the move. Professionals who are familiar with the idiosyncrasies of how these services work in companies of varying sizes are well-positioned to move forward in their careers during 2017.

5. Data Analytics

Big data is still very relevant in today’s business climate, so skills in data analytics will remain in-demand. Most industries can benefit from data analytics, so positions may be available in everything from healthcare to retail to manufacturing.

6. Web Development

The need for quality websites isn’t set to change anytime soon. In fact, some companies are spending less time concentrating on mobile app development and, instead, redirecting those energies to mobile versions of their websites. With that in mind, experience in web development and associated skill can provide new employment opportunities through the next year.

7. Project Management

There will always be projects that need oversight and coordination. Having a solid understanding of IT and project management principles gives you the ability to take on projects that may be outside of the experience of project managers not as familiar with IT. To command top dollar, education and certification in the skill area are often preferred.

If your career is focused on any of these areas or you are interested in exploring new employment options, The Armada Group has the industry experience needed to match your skills to the best opportunities available in the area. Contact us and see where your knowledge can take you in 2017.

Published in Staffing News
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