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.
If you ask a tech pro to describe a work environment that makes them happy, a cubicle is not likely the answer they are going to provide. Often, traditional workplaces are plagued by interruptions and distractions, making it hard to focus on detail-oriented tasks. If you add in issues like frequent, and often spontaneous, meetings, it is no surprise that many IT workers would prefer to work remotely.
Plus, remote work makes goals like work-life balance and flexibility easier to manage. Since many tech professionals have the technical skills necessary to connect remotely and handle their tasks, they are also well-suited to the demands associated with telecommuting, which can make it more enticing.
If you are wondering why tech pros are happier with remote work, here are some key insights.
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.
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.
Today, many large workplaces have at least four generations represented in their employees. Though baby boomers have begun retiring, many have chosen to stay active in the working world. Gen X is prominent, and Millennials make up the bulk of most workforces. Now, Gen Z has begun to make themselves known as well.
Bringing together all of these different perspectives and preferences can be a challenge, and conflict is sure to arise from time to time. When one of those times comes, here are three ways to diffuse the tension created generational conflicts in the office.
1. Fight the Stereotypes
Even if a stereotype isn’t meant as a negative, making assumptions about what someone is like based solely on when they were born is a mistake. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t pervasive, especially when coworkers don’t interact with one another on a regular basis.
One way to stop conflicts based on stereotypes before they start is to get everyone engaged in projects together. Team-building exercises that provide the opportunity to explore each other’s skills outside of a traditional work situation can help employees get to know one another in a less threatening environment.
Within the workplace, encourage employees to work together regularly, or work on cross-training opportunities. Once a level of mutual respect is built, generational differences won’t be a source of conflict.
2. Keep Everyone Accountable
While younger generations have increased opportunities for flexible scheduling and remote work, not everyone has chosen to embrace those styles. Regardless of the number of people who do or don’t choose alternate scheduling options, it is important that accountability remains consistent across the entire workforce.
Set defined expectations regarding the level of communication as well as the method. For example, a weekly video conference gives everyone a chance to communicate in real-time, while email turnaround standards ensure that one employee isn’t stuck waiting for a response from another. You can also have set times where coworkers must be generally available to one another.
For example, set a particular hour each day where no one is allowed to set appointments with anyone outside of the team. That way, coworkers can schedule a time to catch up if scheduling conflicts have prevented them from touching base.
3. Use Technology Properly
Every generation has their preferred method for wasting a little time at work. While the occasional break should be encouraged, constant distractions from personal smartphones, emails, or other activities can harm productivity.
To make sure technology is seen as a positive in the workplace and not a source of distraction, set ground rules regarding personal tech use during work hours. While you don’t have to eliminate it completely, consider banning certain devices during specific occasions. For example, the weekly staff meeting could be tech free.
However, it is wise to balance this out by supporting technology (including social media) when it can serve the business well. Have your most tech-savvy employees work with those who are less familiar or who could use a process update.
By respecting the preferences of all of your employees at the right times, you can limit generational conflict and create an environment in which everyone can thrive.
If you are looking for more information about generational conflict in the workplace or are interested in locating a new employee to join your team, the professionals at The Armada Group are here to help. Contact us and speak to a recruitment specialist today.
When you do the same thing over and over again, you develop expertise. Being an expert is valuable in your career, but sometimes doing the same thing over and over again gets boring. Changing technical specialties gives you the chance to develop new skills and new challenges, and it doesn't have to mean taking an entry-level position and salary. Use these five tips to transition to a new IT specialty, and find new excitement at work.
Choose the right new specialty.
Before making a change, make sure the position you're moving into offers the kinds of challenges you enjoy. If you've been working in technical support, but hate dealing with users, you'll probably find working as a business analyst equally frustrating. But you might enjoy working as a QA tester, which often has little need for interacting with end users and can leverage your familiarity with the kinds of problems that occur in systems.
Discuss making a change with your manager.
While your current employer may view you in a specific way and have trouble seeing you in another capability, if you have a good relationship with your manager, talking with them can help make a transition feasible. Your manager can let you know what skills you'll need to make the move, inform you about current openings, and talk you up to the hiring manager for the new position.
You'll need to develop the skills needed for the new specialty before applying for a transfer or job with another firm. Take advantage of any training your company offers; companies often have libraries of online courses available to any employee. You can also take courses outside of work. Completing a sequence of courses and earning a recognized certificate will attest to both your skills and commitment to do the work in the new specialty.
Leverage your current experience.
When you prepare your resume and answer interview questions, relate your past and current project experience to the demands of the new role. For example, if you worked as a QA tester, you've developed insights into the kinds of bugs coders create that can help you write less buggy code if you switch to a programming role.
Consider working for a smaller company.
In smaller businesses, employees need to wear many hats. You won't be locked into a single specific job function, giving you the chance to experience many roles. Not only will you develop multiple skill sets, you'll get insights that help make sure the next specialty you commit to is one you'll enjoy for the rest of your career.
Ready to make a change? At The Armada Group, our recruiting specialists see you as a whole person, not just the skills you've used in your previous jobs. We'll work with you to understand what you want to achieve in your career and match you to job opportunities that allow you to grow. Contact us to seamlessly switch to your new IT specialty.
Today's world runs on technology, and right now is a great time to be a tech professional. Tech accounts for more than 10 percent of private sector employment, with close to seven million workers in the industry; there are another million self-employed tech workers. CompTIA, an industry association, recently produced a report that present encouraging news for those pursuing tech careers. Overall technology employment in 2015 grew three percent from the previous year.
Even tech manufacturing, which had a decreasing trend over the past decade, experienced a gain in 2015. The largest gain was in computer and peripheral manufacturing, though control, semiconductors, and component manufacturers also increased their employment.
Core IT Services Dominate
But while manufacturing is showing slight signs of a turnaround, core IT employment continues to boom. The past five years have added close to half a million jobs to the economy. Much growth is driven by the rise in cloud computing, with the software-as-a-service sector adding more than 5,000 jobs in 2015, an increase of nearly two percent.
As the internet continues to be central to modern life, the internet is driving growth for IT workers in the telecom/internet services sector, with a growth rate of close to three percent.
Other industry trends influencing employment are the Internet of Things, mobile computing, and big data. Cybersecurity is also an area of high demand, given the constant rise of new forms of malware. Because of the challenges of keeping up with technical change, many companies turn to IT services for support, and as a result IT services experienced the largest increase in employment of any tech sector.
Wages Reflect Demand
Salaries for tech workers are growing along with the demand. Overall average technical salaries were $105,400 per year, an increase of more than a percent from the previous year. The average salary is twice the non-technical average salary. Within the tech industry, software's average salary was $142,500, followed by manufacturing at $108,100.
Take Advantage of the Trends
With the continued growth in technology employment, jobs are out there for tech workers with the skills and motivation to seek advancement. Explore The Armada Group's jobs list to see the opportunities that are out there, or contact us to discuss your background and interests. We'll work to match you to a position that gives you the chance to use your talents to their fullest.