Automation has been a blessing for many businesses. Not only can it help cut costs, but it can also achieve amazing results while removing tedious tasks from the hands of your employees. In essence, it’s a win-win-win, making it hard to ignore.
However, automation isn’t always the way to go. There are some situations where using the technology introduces significant risk, at times in unexpected ways. Before you automate every aspect of your operations, here are three potentially risky outcomes.
When It Allows the Manual Skill to Disappear
While automation is touted for reducing the need for manual processes, freeing up employees to focus on activities that genuinely require the human touch, using automation to the point where the manual approach is no longer known isn’t a great idea.
Even though technology is robust, it is bound to fail at some point. Technical issues happen every day, so you can’t assume that your company will be immune to trouble. If you rely too heavily on automation, when that problem occurs, no one will know how to default back to the manual process. This can bring business to a standstill.
When It Leads to Disengagement
Automation is often an excellent way to boost engagement as it gives your workers the ability to handoff duties that are a bit mundane or repetitive. However, when technology is used to make decisions for employees or allows them to distance themselves emotionally from the company’s operational essence, disengagement can occur.
For employees to feel satisfied on the job, they need to connect with the company. Automation has the ability to eliminate core business knowledge over time, making it harder to create a bridge between what the worker is doing and the success of the organization. If morale begins to decrease, productivity generally falls and turnover increases, creating a less than ideal scenario for everyone involved.
When It Creates Poor Customer Experiences
At some point, everyone has had a poor customer service experience thanks to automation. For example, being stuck talking to an automated call attendant that won’t let you reach out to a person can be infuriating, especially when the system can’t provide you with the information you need.
While using automation to make customer interactions easier can be wise, it shouldn’t be used to dehumanize the entire process. Instead, striking a balance is essential. Otherwise, customer frustration is going to lead to poor word-of-mouth, and that can be incredibly damaging to your business.
Ultimately, automation is a powerful tool, but it must be used wisely. Without an adequate balance between technology and the people-factor, automation can actually do more harm than good.
Ready to Hire Talented Developers? The Armada Group Can Help!
If you would like to learn more about how to use automation to your advantage without harming operations, morale, or customer service, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to discuss your questions with one of our experienced team members today and see how our workplace automation expertise can benefit you.
Today’s workplace is plagued by constantly updating email inboxes, intrusive messenger notifications, and a plethora of other alerts designed to pull your attention in a new direction. Add to that the assault from personal accounts and devices, and the cavalcade may seem never ending. While the commonplace nature of these interruptions make them seem like part of the daily grind, they can actually prevent you from engaging in “deep work,” or any activity that requires significant focus over a long period.
The constant bombardment means you aren’t able to concentrate on the task at hand, and that could ultimately cost you a promotion. Here’s why.
Shallow vs. Deep
The majority of the work people complete on a daily basis is shallow in nature. These are the routine activities that don’t require a lot of thought to complete properly, making the occasional (or frequent) distraction manageable. Typically, these are the duties we all must complete to ensure we don’t end up on a job hunt earlier than anticipated.
Deep work requires concentration and focus. It can be cognitively demanding, and often needs a significant time commitment to complete. To make the most of deep work, we need to remove these interruptions from our lives. Otherwise, our thought processes are interrupted, and we have to reset after every distraction.
How to Make Deep Work Possible
To participate in the kind of thinking required to complete deep work to your highest standard, you must set yourself up for success. This means taking a few proactive steps to limit interruptions and prevent unnecessary distractions before they occur.
One easy step is to schedule the time you need to dedicate to deep work tasks. Mark the time out on your calendar and consider it an active appointment with yourself. This prevents others from trying to schedule a meeting with you during that time, and can also show others you are busy.
Next, eliminate distractions that are under your control. This can include shutting down smartphones, closing out email and messaging applications, and setting your phone to “do not disturb.” Then, don’t check any of those items until your time for deep work has passed, or the task is complete.
In some cases, you may need to speak with your co-workers, managers or employees regarding protocols for deep work time. This ensures those around you support your need to concentrate and will only interrupt under circumstances that require your immediate attention. If your office supports an open floor plan, you may even need to secure a quiet space, such as a small conference room, to help get the heads-down time you need to succeed.
Why It Matters
In the end, deep work is often related to projects that will lead to the most advancement and organizational success. These are tasks that will get you noticed, and you need to make sure you have the chance to shine. That way, when the time is right, you can use those experiences to help you reach the next promotional opportunity along your career path.
If you are interested in exploring new promotional opportunities today, the experts at The Armada Group can help you on your journey. Contact us and see what options are available in your field today.
Millennials came of age during challenging economic times. Many had trouble finding good jobs after school, settling for jobs they were overqualified for or working at internship after internship, hoping to get an "in" with a good company and a good job.
Now, the work habits that were forced on millennials are impacting employers. Millennials don't have the same experiences or expectations of the workplace that other generations had, and employers who want to hire millennials, perhaps to replace retirees of older generations, need to adapt the way they work to appeal to the younger generation.
Flexible Work Arrangements
Millennials don't expect to be tied to their workplace for a 40-hour work week. They've grown up with computer technology that keeps them connected around the clock, wherever they are; they don't see why work should have to me going to a specific place at a specific time. The "gig economy" lets them work on projects in short bursts of time when they have availability, giving them the freedom to pursue personal interests and passion projects. While those positions were initially focused on low-level, menial tasks such as running errands and standing in line, newer gig firm let even grads with advanced degrees like MBAs work on a short-term basis.
In order to compete for workers who prefer that kind of arrangement, firms need to offer flexible work arrangements that extend beyond an occasional "work-from-home" day. This might mean hiring millennials on a part-time basis; to succeed, the part-time schedule has to be desired by the employee rather than an attempt to save on the cost of benefits.
Companies can also consider having their millennials work as internal consultants. Rather than being assigned to a specific department or project, they could work for any department that has need of their skill on a specific project. This has the advantage of providing the employee a broad perspective on the company's operations. By also providing the millennial employee a large number of internal contacts, this helps the employee develop connections needed that help professional growth.
Opportunities for Growth
The gig economy lets workers accept the jobs that interest them so they can develop their interests. Within a company, implementing a formal mentorship program will also appeal to millennials who are focused on career development. Companies also need to present millennials with a clear career path, perhaps through implementing leadership programs. Companies also need to refine their mission statement to reflect the millennial values of work interests go beyond financial success.
The Armada Group's talent database includes the best potential employees of every generation. Contact us to learn how to find the best candidates and how to make your job appeal to them.
Technology helps make our lives comfortable. If you work in technology, that's even more true, because tech jobs tend to have great salaries. Here are 10 of the highest-paying IT jobs (including salary and bonus) according to a survey by Computerworld.
Chief Information Officer. You won't start your career as a CIO, but if you aim to climb the corporate career ladder, technology can take you all the way to the executive suite. This C-level job title has a total compensation package that averages around $170,000. Other C-level job titles, like Chief Security Officer and Chief Technology Officer, also claim comp above $150,000.
Internet Technology Architect. The Internet is a key driver of technology, so it's no surprise that this top-level tech strategist role also receives top compensation. Look for a package around $150,000 if you guide your company's Internet development.
Application Development Manager. Take ownership of an application's development path and you can take home salary of around $120,000. Two titles that often lead to the application development manager role take in slightly less, with product managers earning around $116,000, and project managers earning close to $108,000.
Data Warehousing Manager. Data is becoming a key driver of corporate decisions, and with the growth of Big Data, data warehousing managers to oversee the safe storage and retrieval of this data are in demand. Their total salary averages around $127,000. The related role of database manager averages around $102,000.
Computer Operations Manager. Operations roles are also important to a business's technology success. The average compensation for computer operations managers is around $106,000. Help desks are also a key part of tech operations, and the help desk/technical support manager can make around $78,000.
Enterprise Architect. Help guide the company's overall tech strategy as an enterprise architect, and total salary is close to $132,000. With a more specific role as a database architect, you can take home about $125,000 and as a network architect, close to $120,000.
Storage Architect. The storage architect role is becoming more important due to big data; storage architects and engineers can earn total comp of about $113,000. Storage administrators can make about $101,000.
Mobile Specialist. Helping the company get its applications working on mobile platforms is worth about $115,000 in salary and bonus. While Web development is still important, those positions average $76,000.
Systems Analyst. Someone has to figure out what all those programs do. The systems analyst job title has total comp of about $82,000, while the technology/business systems analyst title compensation is about $89,000.
Application Developer. Build the application and your total salary may be nearly $95,000. As a systems programmer, it could be over $105,000.
As an IT professional, you are aware that your skills, experience and insights are in demand for many companies and in many industries. The question is, in what sort of work environment will you thrive? A startup where you can wear many hats? Or a more established organization where you may find more security? Here are a few factors to consider.
What Is Your Long-Range Plan?
Do you have an entreprenueal mindset that would flourish in a startup environment? Working in a start up can offer the chance to get in on the ground floor of an exciting opportunity. You may have input into how the company is run, the kinds of projects that will be taken on and possibly who is hired.
In an established company, you may spend more time paying your dues before earning the kind of impact possible in a startup, but gaining a foothold in a large well-known corporation may be better for your long-term career.
How Risk Averse Are You?
When you work for an established corporation, you are likely to garner a higher salary and possibly better benefits. With a startup, you may have a lower salary, but your actual compensation could potentially be higher, if the company is successful. A portion of your compensation will likely come from profit sharing or other financial rewards that are tied to the growth and profitability of the company.
Are You a Specialist or a Generalist?
An established company may offer the opportunity to specialize in a narrow niche where you can really excel. If you enjoy variety and working on a lot of different kinds of projects, you might find more fulfillment in a startup where the smaller size of the company will allow you to use your expertise in a variety of ways.
What's Your Work Style?
Do you like being involved in the decision-making process? Would you rather be left alone to do your job? At a startup, you may have less red tape and more transparency (and even input) into the decision-making process, but with that comes greater risk and longer hours. Pressure may be higher than at an established company as you work closely with the principals of the company to help them succeed.
Analyzing what you want your career to look like in the long and short term can help you make an informed decision about the kind of company that's best for you. Consider these factors when conducting your job search. There are no wrong answers; it's about what's best for you.
With the influx of tech jobs and the shortage of qualified software engineers, many recent graduates have discovered that finding a position in Silicon Valley is remarkably easy. But while the talent gap isn’t going anywhere, tech companies are beginning to demand more and more of their engineers, resulting in remarkably high expectations for those new to the tech industry. These are a few of the ways standards are changing for Silicon Valley engineers.
More Skills, More Experience
Experience doesn’t always mean years on the job, but hiring managers in the tech industry are now expecting engineers to have a stronger grasp on a wider variety of tools. Whether that means you’ve used a suite of different coding languages to create fully-functional sites, or you’ve designed a feature-rich app, you have to have something concrete in your portfolio to get your foot in the door. With so many technologies at their disposal, tech companies like to see candidates with strong skills in a variety of areas. Create a well-rounded portfolio during your early years as an engineer to give yourself a jump start during your job search.
Creative Thinking & Other Soft Skills
Your technical capabilities, however, are no longer the be-all and end-all. You also have to work well in a team and have the ability to effectively communicate your ideas. Many of the more discerning companies are also looking for engineers who possess the ability to think creatively and find elegant, non-traditional solutions to common problems. If you possess these skills, you’ll be a more competitive candidate in the Silicon Valley tech industry. These skills, however, are often innate rather than learned, and can be difficult to replicate if they don’t come to you naturally.
In recent years, software engineers have gravitated towards social, consumer-based platforms like Facebook and Google. These industries often search for candidates with the ability to problem solve from an end user’s perspective. They need developers who can implement features and programs that would benefit and appeal to the consumer. This ingenuity can be hard to find in those who are more technical by nature, so the well-balanced engineer will find that their chances are actually better than those who are purely tech-savvy.
Meeting the new standards of Silicon Valley’s tech industry is a tall order for even the most qualified engineers. As the culture trends towards more social interfaces, they demand more socially minded engineers who can place themselves in the positions of their target audience. If you can partner creativity, collaborative effort, and the necessary know-how, you have the potential to meet and exceed these new expectations.
In the past decade, we have seen dramatic changes in the technology available to businesses. From communication tools to advanced security features, these new elements are exceptionally valuable to modern businesses. But sifting through the wealth of available IT tools often seems like an impossible task. With so many options available, how can you choose the right tools for your company? To help you flesh out your IT arsenal, we’ve narrowed it down to five key elements that will keep your organization on track to success.
1. Incident Ticket Systems
Automated issue tracking can be a vital part of your business’s success. Its automatic bug log will help your IT staff quickly diagnose and address problems that may occur. Without a good ticketing system, important problems may get lost or overlooked in the flood of minor issues, or there may be some confusion on who each individual problem is assigned to. A good incident ticket system will help streamline this process and avoid major issues.
2. Project Management
A strong project management system should be integrated with your ticketing system, allowing managers and IT specialists to assign and complete tickets quickly and efficiently. Project management will help track assignments, establish standard responses to common problems, and allow for managers to oversee each project handled by your IT department.
No matter what industry you work in, analytics tools are a vital part of making informed business decisions. You might track how customers behave on your website, your turnaround time on IT problems, or which kinds of clients bring in the most revenue. This can help you redirect your marketing efforts or restructure the way you resolve problems. By effectively analyzing data, you can make successful decisions for your company.
4. Remote Monitoring
With remote monitoring, your IT specialists have the power to access endpoint devices and address errors or bugs. This powerful cloud-based tool can save you both time and money, as well as allowing your IT staff to solve problems more efficiently. A remote monitoring system can be integrated with your system analytics, so your staff can monitor trends and catch hard-to-find errors.
In many ways, security can often be the most important element of a successful IT system. With the frequency of cyberattacks on the rise, it’s important that you invest in a good security system to protect the confidentiality of your business, your employees, and your customers. These tools are extremely flexible, so you can choose a security setup that suits your unique business.
These five IT elements can not only streamline your operations, but protect you from catastrophic system errors and data breaches. By implementing each of these tools, your company will have everything it needs to succeed in our increasingly technological world.
As technology continues to advance rapidly, the machines we use are getting smarter. Machine learning is the technology of constructing “learning” algorithms that drive a broad range of smart technologies — and the new generation of this discipline, called deep learning, has the potential to power more advanced artificial intelligence capable of everything from sophisticated speech and image recognition, to self-driving cars.
What is deep learning?
Deep learning, also called deep structured learning or hierarchical learning, is a type of machine learning that uses high-level data abstractions, nonlinear transformations, and layered cascades applied to learning representations of data, in order to help machines “learn” tasks through observations and examples.
Algorithms with deep learning applied are often inspired by communication patterns found in neuroscience — the study of the human nervous system. For example, a deep learning algorithm might be based on the relationship between a stimulus and a neural response, which registers as electrical activity in the brain. This type of machine learning attempts to create neural networks for machines that “think” in ways similar to humans.
Following are a few of the applications currently being developed with deep learning algorithms.
Automatic speech recognition
Technologies such as Apple’s Siri are built on machine learning algorithms that work to recognize speech, including words and sounds. Deep learning has led to the advancement of automatic speech recognition using the TIMIT data set — a limited-sample database using 630 speakers and eight major American English dialects, each with 10 different spoken sentences — to large vocabulary speech recognition through DNN models that rely on deep learning algorithms.
Deep learning differentiates from other forms of machine learning through the use of raw features at a learning level, rather than pre-constructed models. With deep learning, speech recognition can be highly accurate using the true “raw” form of speech — waveforms, or visual representations of sounds using curves.
Similar to speech recognition, a limited size data set called the MNIST database has been the popular model for powering image recognition applications. This database includes 60,000 training examples and 10,000 test examples, composed of handwritten digits. However, MNIST relies on shallow machine learning for image recognition — and deep learning allows for more large-scale image recognition at a higher accuracy rate.
One practical example of deep learning algorithms applied to image recognition can be found in the automotive industry. A car computer trained with deep learning may enable cars to process and interpret 360-degree camera views, allowing for heightened “awareness” in self-driving or assisted-driving vehicles.
Many in the tech industry view deep learning as a strong step toward realizing truer artificial intelligence. In 2013, Google hired three DNN researchers tasked with not only dealing with the search engine giant’s constantly growing stores of data, but also to improve Google’s existing machine learning products, such as semantic role labeling and search results.
Facebook has also created an artificial intelligence lab, largely dedicated to the development of deep learning techniques that will improve the user experience. Automatic image tagging was developed in Facebook’s AI lab — a technology that is still being refined for greater accuracy using deep learning.
As machine learning continues to increase in sophistication, more companies will look to hire IT professionals interested in developing deep learning algorithms and improved artificial intelligence applications. Machine learning is an exciting field with a wide range of possibilities ahead.
Making the right hiring decisions the first time is crucial to the success of your organization. If you hire someone who’s not suitable for the position, you’ll typically end up losing significant time and money — simply by having to start the hiring process all over again. In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management finds that the average cost of a bad hire is five times the amount of the salary for that position.
This includes hiring the right IT and engineering contractors. Recruiting top IT talent is a major challenge, especially considering that there is no guaranteed recruiting roadmap you can use for every open position. However, you can increase your hiring success rate by knowing where to go in order to find the best candidates.
The following resources will help you source and retain top IT and engineering candidates, so you can hire the right person for the job.
Your job description
The job posting you provide for open positions is one of the biggest and most effective tools you have for successful recruiting. The job description is usually the first thing candidates will read about your company — so make sure it’s clear, concise, and candidate-focused, with an emphasis on how working for you will benefit the job seeker.
Once you have a great job description, make it easily accessible to a wide pool of candidates by posting it on:
- Your company’s website
- Popular job boards, such as Monster and CareerBuilder
- Niche IT job boards like TechCareers, Dice, 37Signals, and FlexJobs
Social media has become a very common tool for both employers and job seekers to connect, network, and find the best matches between professionals and careers. In addition to helping you get the word out about your open job positions, social platforms also give you the opportunity to communicate your employer brand, and attract the best talent to your open positions.
Build your social media presence on:
- LinkedIn: The largest business-oriented social network in the world offers a wide range of tools and features for employers, recruiters, and job candidates
- Facebook: Still a highly effective platform for making connections, Facebook gives you an opportunity to showcase your employer brand and interact closely with potential candidates
- Twitter: This fast-moving network can help you gain a broader reach and quickly spread the word about your job opportunities
The recruitment process is a complex and time-intensive undertaking. In fact, recruiting the best talent is a full-time job by itself. If you’re struggling to devote the necessary time and resources to recruiting top candidates, there are third parties whose sole function is to recruit, screen, and interview candidates according to the needs of your organization. These include:
- Staffing agencies and firms
- Recruiters (both contingent and retained)
- Executive search firms
- Recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) firms
Many of these third-party organizations specialize in sourcing IT talent, and have an existing pool of highly qualified candidates to choose from.
While recruiting is a nuanced and time-intensive process, there are many ways you can leverage your own contacts in order to locate top IT and engineering candidates. Within your HR department, some of the available resources can include:
- Resume databases
- Internal databases of past candidates and contractors you’ve worked with previously
- Referrals from existing employees
You can also reach out through personal connections using resources such as online user groups and alumni groups, business schools and technical institutes, or professional networking contacts. Finally, look for talented candidates by getting involved with IT forums or programming competitions on sites like HackerRank, InterviewStreet, and GitHub.
Just as technology is constantly evolving, so is the complex IT job market. Knowing the latest hiring, salary, and industry trends can help IT professionals navigate the tech job industry, and be prepared to advance their careers with upcoming opportunities.
The recently released 2015 Modis Salary Guide for Tech Professionals reveals very promising news for tech professionals in the near future, with a look at the overall tech job market as well as the hottest IT careers over the next few years. Here’s what IT pros can look forward to for in-demand jobs with great salaries.
The IT jobs market at a glance
Overall, tech job continue to show rapid growth across multiple sectors. The report from Modis projects that while other industries will experience 10.8 percent employment growth by 2022, IT jobs are expected to show 18 percent growth in the same time period.
In the United States, 685,000 new tech jobs are projected to be added by 2022.
Most in-demand IT jobs
The IT job market is generally growing across all areas, but some sectors are hotter than others. Here are the tech careers that will be the most in demand — and some of the highest paid — over the next few years:
Analysts: Systems analysts jobs are expected to grow 25 percent by 2022. An example of the projected salary in this sector is Business Data Analyst II (mid-level), with a salary range of $55,376 to $86,535, and an average salary of $70,453.
Health IT: The value of the health IT sector is expected to reach $56.7 billion by 2017. Some of the most in-demand jobs for this sector include:
- Revenue cycle analyst (salary range $36,892 - $71,829; average salary $51,930)
- Clinical systems analyst (salary range $64,927 - $101,154; average salary $82,454)
- Clinical informaticist (salary range $42,282 - $74,147; average salary $55,728)
Database development, administration, and business intelligence: With big data becoming a must for many businesses, database and analyst related jobs are projected to show a 15 percent growth by 2022. Positions in high demand include:
- Data scientist (salary range $79,285 - $138,281; average salary $109,260)
- Database administrator (salary range $81,497 - $129,993; average salary $107,130)
- Business intelligence specialist (salary range $88,930 - $137,534; average salary $110,197)
Programming and software engineering: These positions are constantly in demand, and developer jobs are expected to show 22 percent growth by 2022. Some of the top positions for this sector include:
- Applications engineer, entry level (salary range $45,069 - $80,665; average salary $59,355)
- Applications engineer, advanced (salary range $86,819 - $156,118; average salary $122,627)
- Programmer III, mid-level (salary range $71,616 - $111,422; average salary $90,528)
- Software engineer II, mid-level (salary range $62,811 - $96,472; average salary $78,410)
- .NET developer (salary range $55,689 - $95,556; average salary $75,995)
Project management: This area has a growth forecast of 15 percent by 2022. Anticipated salaries for project managers include:
- IT project manager I, entry (salary range $51,173 - $101,266; average salary $76,282)
- IT project manager III, senior (salary range $81,603 - $129,987; average salary $107,203)
Security: Another area that is always in demand, the growth forecast for security and security analyst jobs is robust at 37 percent by 2022. Some of the most sought-after IT security jobs will include:
- Security administrator (salary range $50,812 - $108,106; average salary $74,917)
- Systems security analyst (salary range $62,102 - $111,026; average salary $84,941)
- Data security manager (salary range $91,305 - $157,778; average salary $115,415)
Web development: High-end web developer positions are projected to grow 20 percent by 2022. The most popular positions in this sector include:
- Web application developer (salary range $52,462 - $84,613; average salary $66,212)
- Interface design director (average salary $129,421 - $179,701; average salary $155,669)