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The 10 Tech Books Bill Gates Says You Should be Reading

 

Bill Gates is a big fan of reading, often tearing through several dozen books each and every year. Recently, he has been especially focused on books about technology. Here is a look at the ten tech books Bill Gates thinks everyone should read in 2019.

As the Cannabis Industry Grows So Does the Opportunity for Tech Innovation

 

The cannabis industry has grown substantially over recent decades. An increasing number of states have legalized medicinal marijuana, 10 states already allow recreational marijuana, and many other states have legislation in the works that may result in recreational or medicinal cannabis legalization.

While the cannabis industry is continuing to grow, it also faces unique challenges. Cannabis-related products are still illegal on a federal level, and the financial portions of cannabis-oriented operations can be hard to manage. Additionally, as demand increases, supply issues can occur.

Further, since the cannabis industry is still highly controversial, many IT solutions providers have avoided getting involved with businesses in this arena. Similarly, tech creators aren’t focusing on the industry, limiting the development of new products that could help this sector.

As a result, there is a substantial opportunity for tech innovation in the cannabis industry. If you are wondering how new technology could help this fledgling sector, here’s what you need to know.

Published in Staffing News

How to Change IT Tracks Mid Way Through Your Career

 

Many tech professionals would assume that switching to a new IT specialty wouldn’t be overly challenging. After all, they have a base level of technical expertise to draw from, so wouldn’t many of their existing skills be highly transferable?

While that is true to a degree, that doesn’t mean there won’t be some difficulties ahead. Changing IT tracks does take work, particularly if you are shifting into a tech field that is highly different from where your career is today.

However, just because it may pose a challenge doesn’t mean it is impossible. If you want to change IT tracks mid-way through your career, here are some tips to help you pull it off.

Published in IT Infrastructure

Be a Rock Star in your FIrst 90 Days

 

Your first 90 days on the job are critical. During that period, your coworkers learn what to expect from you and managers are deciding whether you were actually a good hire or not. Your initial few months at your new company set the tone, and missteps during this time can haunt you.

 

Luckily, there are things you can do to make sure that you shine during your first 90 days. If you want to make sure you make the best impression, here’s what you need to do.

 

Find the Flow

Every workplace has patterns. They may expect certain tasks to be completed in a particular order or have an innate understanding that some phrases should be interpreted in a specific way.

 

By finding the flow, you can integrate yourself into what is already there. Not only does this makes you seem like a more natural fit, but it can also save you a lot of frustration. Instead of pushing against the norm, you are recognizing it and working with it, which is going to be universally appreciated.

 

Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t be a champion for change in the future. However, coming into a new workplace and asking people to conform to what you want isn’t going to win you any allies. Similarly, telling a group of colleagues that you don’t know well that their wrong is going to leave a sour taste in their mouths.

 

Always strive to make yourself a part of how things are first, as this gives you a chance to have the full experience. Plus, you may learn that things are the way they are for a reason, and that change isn’t actually necessary. If you do have a potentially beneficial idea, then you can share it once you garner the respect of your colleagues, and that usually won’t happen in the first 90 days.

 

Seek Out Expectations

Exceeding expectations is usually a great way to make a positive impression. However, you can only do that if you actually understand what expectations exist in the first place.

 

If your manager hasn’t clearly defined any expectations, objectives, or goals associated with your role, schedule a meeting and ask about them. You can also talk to your coworkers about what they anticipate you’ll be able to provide, giving you an idea of how they think your position fits into the bigger picture.

 

As you learn about the expectations, don’t make grand promises about exceeding them. Instead, acknowledge them and make commitments that give you a little breathing room whenever possible. Remember, it can take time to familiarize yourself with a new environment, so it’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver in the beginning.

 

Contact The Armada Group for More Help with Your Career!

By following the tips above, you can excel during your first 90 days on the job. If you would like to learn more about making a great first impression, the professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to discuss your questions with one of our skilled team members today and see how our workplace expertise can benefit you.

 

Published in Staffing News

What Exactly Is Robotic Process Automation

 

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.

 

 

Hiring Strategy

 

When it comes to hiring, two things matter more than anything: speed and quality. While the two don’t always seem to go together well, there are strategies that can help you secure top talent as quickly as possible. Here’s how to get started.

 

Clearly Define Your Ideal Candidate

One of the easiest ways to improve your hiring process is to first clearly define what your ideal candidate looks like. Typically, this involves an extensive review of the job requirements with a focus on critical competencies and priorities, such as filling skill gaps.

 

Now, during this process, you don’t want to create a skills list that is so extensive it becomes practically unattainable, especially since many professionals won’t apply to a position unless that are a 100 percent match for the requirements. Instead, list only those that are most crucial for the role as requirements, and review the applications to determine if anyone also possesses any “nice to have” skills as well.

 

Align Your Interview Team

Often, each interviewer on a team or panel has a different idea of what a great candidate looks like unless they are given clear guidance regarding any current priorities. Failure to align your interview team means everyone isn’t likely to agree on a top prospect, which may leave you without a potential new hire.

 

Begin by identifying any essential core competencies that are necessary for the role as a method for guiding everyone’s analysis of the interviewees. This will also help you determine if you need someone who functions as more of a specialist or generalist in their particular area, as either approach can be appropriate, depending on your priorities. Then, consider if any attributes define candidates who may be a solid cultural fit, increasing the chances that they will excel in the environment.

 

You also want to make sure that the panel won’t place too much weight on credentials from top-ranked schools or previous experience at leading companies, as many professionals are just as skilled even though they don’t possess that particular pedigree. It also helps to have a discussion regarding the importance of achievement versus experience, as a seemingly less experienced job seeker may be more prone to greatness despite their greenness.

 

Agree on Acceptable Trade-Offs

Some teams are more willing to take a risk on a potentially great talent who needs some additional development than others, and getting everyone on the same page in this area is essential. If everyone isn’t assessing the candidates from the same perspective, you may have conflict in your interview team as they debate the merits of someone who appears to have potential but isn’t proven. By having this discussion in advance, it is easier to align the panel in a particular direction, speeding up the hiring process.

 

Similarly, very rarely does a candidate possess every skill or trait you’re hoping to find, so it is important to determine which points are non-negotiable and which can be overlooked as long as the interviewee has another characteristic or competency which could be helpful.

 

By following the tips above, you can streamline your hiring process significantly. If you would like to improve your strategy further, the recruitment specialists at The Armada Group can connect you with some of the area’s leading talent. Contact us today to see how our hiring strategies can work for you.

 

 

Published in Hiring Managers

How Confident Are You in Tablet Security

Tablets are becoming a key tool for employees who work out in the field. Many employers now issue tablets to service professionals like visiting nurses or salespeople who make customer calls. By using these tablets, those workers are able to access company systems so data entry doesn't require a trip back to the office or to look up the information needed to close the deal. But, as with other mobile devices, the security risks of tablets are often unacknowledged, and many companies don't have the capabilities to secure, monitor, and support the usage of these devices.

There are several different risks companies need to address:

Loss of the device

Because these devices are so small and light, they're easily misplaced, lost, or stolen. Companies need to ensure that if an unauthorized user gains access to the device, they don't gain access to all the data on it and all the company's data systems.

Insecure networks

Employees on the go are likely to connect using insecure Wi-Fi networks in hotels, coffee shops, and other facilities. When employees connect using these networks, they risk exposing password and data or infecting their device with malware. Public charging stations also can potentially infect devices with malware.

Malware

The risks of malware are limited with iOS devices, but there's widespread malware that targets Android devices.

Companies that want to give their employees the flexibility of using tablets while maintaining appropriate security should consider using mobile device management software. That software provides a variety of features that help protect tablets and other mobile devices, such as allowing applications to be added or removed from mobile devices, enforcing encryption and other security controls on the device, and allowing devices to be wiped remotely if they are lost. Additionally, enterprises should build strong authentication into their applications, including multi-factor authentication. Antivirus software on the device will help protect against infections.

Need to build a team with the smarts to create tablet-centric applications for your field team and to keep them secure? The Armada Group has a deep pool of technology talent with leading edge skills. Contact us to learn how our staffing services can help you find the professionals your projects need to succeed. 

Published in IT Infrastructure

STEM degrees its more about experience

One thing about technology: it either works or it doesn't. A fancy brand name can't make up for a program that doesn't do what it's supposed to do. That pragmatic approach applies to degrees in STEM fields, too. A recent study found that for degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math, the "brand name" of the school granting the degree had less impact on long-term salaries than for degrees in liberal arts.

Skills Matter

The reason for that is the skills that lead to success on the job are both standardized and easy to assess. Programming languages are the same whether they're learned at an Ivy League school or at a community college. And coding skills are easily evaluated through technical questions and small coding problems during the interview.

The high demand for STEM skills means even students who develop those skills in an untraditional setting find opportunity. Online courses, hackathons, and nanodegree programs provide job-oriented training outside of the college classroom. Industry finds graduates of these programs appealing because training through these programs often includes the latest programming tools that haven't been incorporated into school curriculums yet.

Experience Matters

A degree from a top school will definitely open doors, but once you start working, it's your achievements on the job that matter more in STEM fields. Managers can easily track quality metrics tied to a specific employee, such as whether features are delivered on time and how many bugs were in their work. These metrics can impact the salary increases and bonuses employees receive.

The degree is also less important when switching employers after you've been working for a few years. Because technology changes so rapidly, the specific methods and techniques you learned in school are no longer relevant. It's important to take training and continuing education classes to become familiar with the new technologies in demand. In addition, employers value the nontechnical interpersonal and leadership skills that develop after working for several years. Employees who demonstrate up-to-date technical skills plus an understanding of how to get things done in a business environment will have a solid career no matter what it says on their diploma.

Published in Recruiting

Tips for Keeping Top IT Talent

One of the biggest headaches for any manager is replacing an employee who resigns. Not only does losing an employee mean you need to spend time and money recruiting their replacement, it also makes it difficult to get your department's work done. Other employees need to pick up the departing employee's work; they may resent it and start thinking about resigning themselves. The best way to solve this headache is to prevent it from developing in the first place, by reducing your turnover. Here are some things to look at to help you keep your top talent.

Offer financial rewards.

Periodically review your compensation bands and make sure you're paying market-level salaries. Beyond the paycheck, make sure your company offers other competitive financial benefits, including a well-structured 401(k) plan.

Understand your employees' perspective.

Don't wait until an end-of-year annual review process to find out how your employees feel about their jobs. Talk with them informally throughout the year. You can also conduct surveys to collect anonymous feedback that may include opinions no one would tell you to your face.

Tailor work assignments to employees' preferences.

It's probably not possible to ensure that your employees will enjoy all of their work responsibilities every day, but you can make sure they're assigned to projects and roles that are in line with their interests and abilities. Make sure employee reviews include discussions of what they'd like to work on. When new projects come up, don't simply assign people based on what they're currently doing; assign them based on what they would like to do.

Offer emotional rewards.

Saying "thank you" costs nothing but goes a long way in making employees feel like their work has meaning and is valued. Praising someone's work in public is especially valuable. Make employees feel like they're part of a team, and that the team matters, by having occasional low-cost team celebrations. These acts boost morale and make employees less likely to give notice.

Don't wait until they give notice.

In most cases, if you're an involved manager, you should have a sense that someone on your team isn't happy. There will be even more signs when they progress to actively interviewing, such as moving away if you pass by when they're on the phone or showing up to work late wearing nicer clothes than usual. You probably don't want to flat-out ask them if they're looking for another job, but you can and should make the effort to ask how things are going. If you find something you can change for them before they give notice, you may never have to deal with their resignation at all.

Published in Hiring Managers

Armada Dec How to Prove Your DevOps Adds Value

The rise of cloud computing, coupled with the push for continuous software development, has led many businesses to the DevOps model. In DevOps, the team responsible for deployment and support of applications in the production environment works closely with development teams and development tools to streamline the transition of applications to operational usage. This is a culture change for many organizations, where traditionally the development and operations teams were separate. For companies that have made this transition, identifying the benefits and ROI can prove challenging.

CA Technologies developed a framework for metrics that can be used to assess the performance of DevOps. These metrics review the DevOps organization in the following areas:

Culture, collaboration, and sharing.

Cultural changes are needed for any DevOps program to succeed. Metrics such as staff retention and employee morale surveys help you determine how successfully the DevOps philosophy is accepted by your organization.

Efficiency and effectiveness.

DevOps teams need to show their success in meeting operational goals. These are traditional goals so traditional metrics such as admin-to-server ratios are still applicable. Other relevant metrics measure the cost of releases.

Quality and velocity.

These metrics verify whether this approach to service delivery is succeeding through looking at measures such as the number of releases that are rolled back due to problems and the time taken to restore service after a problem.

Customer and business value.

Ultimately, the reason for using DevOps is to achieve business goals. Companies should create metrics that assess whether DevOps is helping to roll out functionality more quickly, and improving customer loyalty.

Metrics are made at a moment in time, and an effective metrics program requires an ongoing program of assessment. Metrics which are continuously passed can be removed from the program; metrics which are not met can indicate unrealistic goals or a problem with the DevOps implementation. It's easy to backslide and measure only traditional operations metrics or technical factors such as number of bugs, but it's important to retain the emphasis on internal collaboration and customer satisfaction. The real ROI of DevOps comes when your teams work as one to meet business goals.

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