Category Archives: Employment

Retaining and Developing Tech Staff

Retaining and Developing Tech Staff

Looking For The Ideal Workplace

Many leading tech companies are recognized as ideal workplaces, voted into the likes of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For lists, and yet the industry as a whole continues to struggle with talent challenges. Businesses are looking to source individuals who are top performers in their category, reliable, and trustworthy, but the workforce pool isn’t yet keeping up with industry growth and development.

The Dynamic Tech Workforce

ellen-humphreyCloudTweaks discussed some of the challenges of tech recruitment with Ellen Humphrey, SVP of HR at Appirio. Says Humphrey, “The U.S. economy loses $350 billion per year from lost productivity related to disengagement, according to Gallup research. When workers aren’t given access to the tools, information, and collaborative processes they need to perform their jobs, experience tells us these employees leave very quickly. Organizations that can make a seamless application experience, develop ways to internally communicate that match preferences of the newest generation and support solutions that enable a working environment from anywhere will find that employees are consistently more engaged.”

The fact is, the tech industry isn’t the only sector recruiting tech talent. All businesses need these resources to successfully compete and thrive, and so the staff that IT companies are spending time and money developing are often being lost to retail, banking, healthcare, and many other industries. If the gap between tech occupational job requirements and graduates able to fulfill these posts continues, non-tech businesses will increasingly be recruiting from the tech companies currently training their own staff.

Workforce Solutions

Some tech companies are working hard to prevent this brain drain by implementing processes which encourage loyalty. Effecting clear advancement and growth routes encourage staff to create goals and targets specifically related to an organization, thereby attaching their allegiance. Businesses that take the time to work with staff on career development will typically be rewarded for their efforts. Furthermore, defining compensation is key. Although it’s never all about money, it’s important for businesses to identify where they fall in terms of pay, based on internal culture and practice, and describe what compensation includes. Staff who are aware of future opportunities for advancement and the potential to work on new initiatives are more likely to reconsider jumping ship for little more than a small pay increase.

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(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Aside from in-house solutions, a number of third-party solutions are evolving to tackle the tech talent challenges. In this year’s ITA challenge to 21 Midwest Universities, a record number of students are expected to compete in the search for the best in tech. The program aims to keep the best tech talent in the Midwest, driving the industry forward for many years to come. Of Appirio’s tech talent initiative, Humphrey states, “Ascend began as a formal way of onboarding associates straight out of college and evolved into a training platform for college students seeking additional skill sets in technology. Recruiting and retaining top talent is a challenge for businesses across the U.S – 77% of experts expect recent college graduates to leave their jobs within one year. Appirio put Ascend into place as a response to this barrier to business growth. The program allows participants to work on real-world business problems and to build valuable skills that will help them advance and grow professionally. It has been so successful that we’ve experienced a 95% retention rate from 2013 to 2015.”

As educators and businesses alike work towards increasing and developing the tech staffing pool, both conventional and unconventional tools are being implemented. A host of educational programs are being executed, endeavoring to meet the constantly changing skill requirements. Moreover, innovative solutions in-house and externally promise better talent management and deployment, and could signal the beginning of the end of the tech brain drain and a better balance between tech employee demand and supply.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Tech Companies To Significantly Grow Digital Labor And Human Workforce

Tech Companies To Significantly Grow Digital Labor And Human Workforce

Tech Companies To Significantly Grow Digital Labor And Human Workforce Over Next Three Years: KPMG U.S. Tech CEO Study

SANTA CLARA, Calif., July 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Technology companies plan to ramp up deployment of automation and machine learning across several functions, and also increase their human workforce at least 6 percent over the next three years, according to a survey of U.S. tech CEOs by KPMG LLP, the audit, tax and advisory services firm.

The co-existence between human employees and cognitive systems is creating a new class of digital labor that can enhance human skills and expertise, allowing employees to innovate constantly.

[For more detail on KPMG’s U.S. technology industry CEO outlook and KPMG’s cognitive perspective, please visit:www.kpmg.com/tech]

About three-fourths of U.S. technology industry CEOs believe that automation and machine learning are likely to replace at least five percent of their manufacturing, technology, sales and marketing workforce over the next three years. At the same time, more than half (55 percent) of the 138 U.S. tech chief executives surveyed expect their company’s headcount to grow at least six percent.

Tech CEOs see the benefits of digital labor augmenting workforce capabilities and enabling new ways of doing business to add customer value, improve efficiencies and reduce cost,” said Gary Matuszak, global and U.S. chair of KPMG’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications practice. “They see the combination of digital and human labor as an effective way to execute their strategy.”

Tech industry CEOs point to several strategic priorities in the coming 36 months, led by digitization of their business, stronger client focus, implementing disruptive technology, minimizing cyber security risk, and talent development. To accelerate the execution of their strategies, they are hiring new talent (60 percent) and forming new partnerships and alliances (49 percent). And 8 out of 10 tech CEOs see growth through partnerships or collaboration with other companies as the way to drive shareholder value for the next three years.

Underlying their strategic priorities will be a continued focus on innovation. Almost half of the U.S. tech CEOs describe their approach to innovation as accelerated. And 80 percent said they use disruptive technologies to improve products and services.

Innovation and integration of disruptive technologies helps address tech CEO’s top concern (93 percent) — product relevancy three years from now. Also among the top three concerns are the impact of global economic forces on their business and how millennials and their differing wants/needs will change their business.

While U.S. tech CEOs will be driving innovation in uncertain market conditions, they remain optimistic about growth, albeit at a slower pace than in recent years,” said Matuszak.

Almost 60 percent expect 2 percent to less than 5 percent annual revenue growth for their organizations over the next three years, while 17 percent expect growth between 5 and less than 10 percent. Yet, nearly all U.S. tech CEOs (97 percent) surveyed are confident in U.S. revenue growth prospects over the next three years. Almost 90 percent are confident about global growth as well.

Looking at risk, U.S. tech CEOs are most concerned about cyber security, regulatory and reputational risk. Though, nine out of 10 tech CEO’s agree that the need for security is prompting innovation in products and services.

About the Study

The KPMG study involved 138 U.S. technology CEOs from internet, hardware, software, cloud and IT services companies. Seventy-two percent of respondents reported revenue of $1 billion or more. Sixty-one percent of the companies are public, and 39 percent are private.

About KPMG LLP

KPMG LLP is the U.S. member firm of KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”). KPMG International’s member firms have 174,000 professionals, including more than 9,000 partners, in 155 countries.

2016 US Job Growth Forecast, 44% Of IT Employers Are Planning To Hire This Year

2016 US Job Growth Forecast, 44% Of IT Employers Are Planning To Hire This Year

Technology Employment Outlook

The IT job market is currently very much in the favor of the talent with employers finding there simply aren’t enough professionals for hire and a significant number reporting they will be hiring low-skill workers with the intention of investing in their training while grooming them for high-skill jobs. According to CareerBuilder’s 2016 US Job Growth Forecast, 44% of IT employers are planning to hire this year, a figure above the national average. Along with the limited selection of relevant professionals, employers are forced to deal with unstable retention rates as the Society for Human Resource Management notes an average tenure of just three years in the IT industry.

Cloud Shouldering The Burden

One strategy being employed by organizations facing a skills shortage is a greater dependence on the cloud. Says Jeff Ton, Executive Vice President of Product and Service Development at Bluelock who discusses with CloudTweaks, “For a CIO, moving applications and projects into the cloud can be nerve-racking. As a leader, you fear your IT team will see this transition as the removal of their jobs because cloud is often a softer term for outsourcing. In reality, using the cloud to handle time-consuming projects can actually increase employee satisfaction as it frees up IT teams to focus on more innovative, valuable projects for the company. Employees who didn’t have capacity to focus on anything other than immediate projects that kept the lights on – like management of exchange servers or DR – become invigorated and feel better about their roles in the organization.”

When correctly implemented, the cloud doesn’t only offer cost benefits. It also provides greater security thanks to the skills cloud service providers develop and advance in-house as a core part of their business. This, in turn, frees up staff to focus on their own organization’s core projects instead of dividing their attention between a plethora of non-core requirements.

System Engineer and Architect at Bluelock, Jason Fisher, observes, As an engineer, partnering with a DRaaS provider freed up valuable time that I could then spend on projects that were far more valuable to the company as a whole. I was able to work more directly with various business elements and solve real problems. It also gave my team a chance to get their hands dirty with technology and processes they wouldn’t have been able to touch before, as we were able to delegate out more tasks. As a byproduct of redistributing applications and projects to the cloud, I saw my employees becoming more engaged with their roles, and really watched burnout slow.”

Inventive Solutions

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(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Businesses successfully addressing the IT skills shortage have also implemented a few innovative solutions.

Remote Work

The flexibility that telecommuting or remote working provides employees has been found to be a favorable skill draw for many organizations. Not only opening their employment to the global workforce, the freedom they’re able to offer talent tends to create happier employees with better work/life balances.

Independence

A few organizations are providing a different kind of freedom to their employees by instilling them with the entire responsibility for their jobs. These workers are free to come and go as they please and self-manage their projects. The only stipulation is that high-quality results are always delivered.

Automation

In no way a new tool, automation can be a particularly fruitful strategy when correctly used. In most businesses, the majority of IT spend is focused on ‘keeping the lights on’, and so freeing valuable tech resources from low-level and low-value tasks raises business efficiency and productivity.

Staff Training

Investing in your staff may seem a risky endeavor, particularly when considering the three-year retention rate in IT mentioned above, but organizations that develop their staff as they build their organizations create employees who fit the culture while adequately addressing the requirements of a particular position. There’s a lot to be said for employees whose skills have been tailored to suit their function, and education should never be viewed as a drain.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Upwork Causes Stir In Freelance Marketplace Due To New Pricing

Upwork Causes Stir In Freelance Marketplace Due To New Pricing

Upwork Freelance Marketplace

The Upwork freelance marketplace is one of the largest global platforms supporting freelance work, has made a significant change to their terms of service that has a lot of users, both client- and freelancer-side, in an uproar. At the end of 2013, Elance and oDesk, two of the largest freelancing marketplaces on the web, announced a merger, and in 2015 the company relaunched under the name Upwork. Though the oDesk platform was rebranded as Upwork, Elance continued to run its old platform, while encouraging users to move to the Upwork platform. It’s taken about a year for everything to pull together, but the beginning of this year saw the final move of all clients, freelancers, and work portfolios from the old Elance platform to the amalgamated Upwork platform.

Moving Towards a Freelancing & Remote Working Culture

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(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Thanks to many advances in technology in recent years, freelancing and remote working have become viable and profitable options for many, and while freelancers in years gone by might have struggled to find new clients, platforms connecting job hunters with employers have improved their prospects. According to the Freelancer Union report, 34% of the national US workforce is doing freelance work, contributing an estimated $715 billion to the economy. The majority of freelancers believe that freelancing prospects are improving, and 32% of freelancers surveyed have experienced an increase in demand over the past year. Income stability and finding work, however, are the top barriers reported to performing additional freelance work, and it’s significant that 69% of freelancers believe technology helps them find this additional work. To date, Upwork has been a significant part of this technology.

The Terms of Service Furor

Before the Upwork rebranding, oDesk charged fees slightly higher than Elance’s fees, and so with the rebranding, Upwork continued the fee structure of oDesk, while Elancers continued using the slightly lower fee structure of the Elance platform. The final move therefore of clients and freelancers from the Elance platform to the Upwork platform caused some grumbling, but it was a move long in the works, and so it seems the community accepted the change rather peacefully. However, the new terms of service released by Upwork, due to come into effect in early June, is causing much criticism in the freelancing community.

Freelancers who had previously been charged a flat 10% commission on all jobs won through the Upwork freelance platform will now be charged commission on a sliding scale. Those earning less than $500 per month will pay 20% commission, earning between $500.01 and $10,000 will pay 10% commission, and top earnings billing in excess of $10,000 will pay only 5% commission. And clients have also been hit with additional fees. Apparently in efforts to offset high payment servicing costs, a processing fee of 2.75% per payment or flat $25 monthly fee will be charged to clients.

The internet community has quickly made their thoughts known, and in typical fashion dissatisfaction is most loudly stated. Clients, freelancers, and general commentators have expressed anger and disappointment at the changes, though a few savvy Twitter members are using the trend in #Upwork to source new business outside of the platform.

Future Alternatives?

Upwork Freelance Marketplace

The advantages of freelancing and remote working are flexibility in working hours and locations, self-management, the potential for greater income, and additional tax deductions. Of course, the disadvantages also merit thought. Working freelance you’ll typically need to earn more than you would working a standard desk job because you have to pay for all of the benefits you’d receive working in-house. You’re also responsible for a far wider range of tasks; you are your own micro business responsible for all of the accounting, management, and operational functions. Cash flow tends to be inconsistent, you have to actively search for work, and at the end of the day, you are the solely responsible party for all successes and failures. Though some in the freelance marketplace have expressed criticism and general pessimism for the online buyer/seller market as a whole, if after weighing up the pros and cons you still believe freelancing is for you, then go for it.

Over the next 12-18 months we firmly believe that many new competitors will spring into action in order to chip away at the Upwork freelance market share. Where it stands now based on the online responses, this won’t be difficult.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Telecommuting – Your Office From The Cloud

Telecommuting – Your Office From The Cloud

Telecommuting Remote Work

Thanks in part to many of the ingenious cloud tools and services available today, remote jobs are on the rise, offering a great deal of flexibility and, for the lucky few, the options to travel and explore. CloudTweaks for example, is a huge supporter and believer in providing telecommuting opportunities especially in this day age with the large number of Cloud based tools available. The cost cutting is another major benefit which helps keep overhead costs to a minimum.  

Now for some resources for those startups interested in offering telecommuting opportunities.

Nomad List’s selection of welcoming locations with cost of living ranging from $456 to $5,897 per month is enough to inspire even the most fainthearted among us to take advantage of today’s cloud tools and opt for a remote working experience, but aside from the thrill of adventure, remote jobs are also offering benefits such as reduced overheads, decreased travel time and costs, and improved work-life balance.

Top Remote Jobs

employment byod

According to Flexjobs, an online job site for remote employers and employees, the list of top 100 companies offering remote jobs in 2016 includes a number of the tech giants such as Amazon (3), IBM (7), VMware (21), and Apple (47), and according to their research, telecommuting job listings increased by 36% between 2014 and 2015. IT jobs seem to offer the most opportunities, but remote appointments in healthcare, education and marketing are also making their mark.

Startups Encouraging Remote Employment

RemoteWork_Infographic

(Infographic Source: Highfive)

Though we all know one or two nomads, most of us are happy to settle in one spot and just take the odd vacation. Several startups are catering to these more common needs of flexibility and short-term adventure. Sabbatical provides one- to three-week remote work experiences, complete with accommodation, co-working space, and business and social programming while Nomad Pass offers professionals access to co-working spaces in cities globally. Teleport helps keep the cost of living low by analyzing data from various cities and has also created a new tool, Flock, that helps those who manage remote teams find affordable and appropriate meeting spots for their dispersed team members.

Remote Resources

Aside from the above startups inspiring employees to work remotely, a wide assortment of tools which support and enable remote working are being developed. Included are collaboration tools for better communication and project management, productivity tools that help create routines and prevent distractions, and virtual office tools for suitable administration and management.

iDoneThisa simple but effective tool for maintaining clarity, each day team members receive an email reminder asking “What’d you get done today?” This allows users to record achievements and consolidate team accomplishments in one place.

HelpScout – “customer support software with a personal touch”, HelpScout keeps teams organized and customers happy and offers a host of features for managing email at scale.

Xero – bringing enterprise level accounting to the multitudes, Xero offers endless levels of reporting and customization and saves the rainforests by eliminating the need for paper invoices and receipts. Simply snap a photo from your smartphone or forward receipts to your Xero inbox. The enormous array of 3rd party integrations serves only to make Xero all the more ingenious.

TOPDOX – this document collaboration platform supports any document format across any cloud storage. Now you don’t have to choose between OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.

Remote working policies are not only boosting happiness and reducing expenses but improving staff retention, and with the support of the cloud we’re seeing tools that promise greater productivity, distraction-free environments, and global reach for both employers and employees.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Video Meetings And The Face To Face Conundrum

Video Meetings And The Face To Face Conundrum

The Face To Face Conundrum

Meetings have been a scourge on business productivity for many decades. British comedy genius John Cleese released a corporate training film back in 1976, entitled Meetings, Bloody Meetings, which not only became an instant classic, but spawned a sequel in 2012. The problems inherent in meetings are timeless and universal. And sadly, they take up way too much time. But things are changing.

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Traditional Meetings Endangered Species List

A combination of factors now places the traditional meeting on the endangered species list. People no longer have the time or patience that they used to, and for the new generations of employees and managers who have grown up with sophisticated video gaming and unconstrained access to online resources, a tedious one-hour or longer meeting often fails to prove its worth. When that happens at the outset, engagement is sure to evaporate.

We have moved well past the era in which the only way to share ideas with a group of people was to corral them in the same room. Numerous options now exist from the good-old teleconference, to multi-screen video chat, through to virtual meetings using VR tools; but this leads to a conundrum: how important is physical presence to the efficacy of a meeting?

Many of us have participated in tele-meetings where Internet-based video conferencing– was available, but in which the participants still chose not to use the video component, opting solely for voice. For small meetings, this might be due to shyness or vanity – we don’t always look the way we want to, especially when working from home. There is also something decidedly disturbing about the “downwards glare,” where inexperienced video conference attendees look at the onscreen images of the other participants, rather than looking into their own camera. This creates an immediate sense of disconnection between people and points to the importance of eye-to-eye contact during discussion.

Body Language Cues

In multiple participant teleconferences, additional frustration comes about through the lack of body language cues, especially in regard to the rhythm of an actual conversation. We use facial or body gestures to signify comprehension of a point, as well as to signal our desire to speak. Such subtleties are lost when the visual component is missing or inadequate.

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(Image Source: Shutterstock)

This does not mean that virtual meetings should not happen – they should. In fact, they should happen more often, since they save enormous amounts of time and money, and can actually be more productive than their analog counterparts, in most cases. What is critical is that the chairperson of a virtual meeting delivers and enforces an updated set of rules that ensure optimum behavior and synergy.

Firstly, if a company has access to a high-end video telepresence setup – using good video cameras and a bank of screens showing the other participants, then book this well ahead of time. These types of premium virtual meeting rooms are generally available in large organizations with numerous offices locations. They are not available to everyone, but they are worth it, since they offer the chance to see other people as if they were sitting across the table from you, and the 3D sound and video quality is generally superb. When these are not available, a phone or VOIP teleconference can do just as well, but the rules must be adjusted accordingly.

Go for “visual” whenever possible. Humans place greater trust in people when they can see who they are dealing with. They can also read body language cues, and frame the dynamic of the conversation accordingly. Instruct participants to spend a few minutes preparing, prior to the call. This doesn’t mean calling the stylists and makeup artists in, is simply means just allowing adequate light and establishing a desired visual look.

Photo Op

If video is not possible or not desired, then ensure photos are available. This could be as easy as inserting participant’s pictures on the meeting agenda (sent by email or posted in a meeting space.) A photo is a more controlled version of a person’s image, and although it does not allow for visual cues, it still flavors the dynamic of the conversation in a more human way.

photo-op

Set up a system for side chats. It is very disturbing when people need to make a side comment while another person is speaking. Whispering is impossible on a conference call, but texting is easy. Whether this is done through an onscreen conference hub, or just texting to each other’s phones, this is an essential component of meeting dynamics that reduces interruptions while boosting synergy. It can also be used as a way of “raising your hand to speak,” by texting the chairperson from miles away.

There will always be some occasions which necessitate pulling people physically into a room for a meeting, but these are becoming fewer and fewer. The technology exists to bridge the obstacles put up by distance, time and money, but what is needed now is a revised mindset, that focuses pro-actively on the dynamics of human communication, and curates the available technologies to achieve the meeting’s intended goal. This way, Mr. Cleese will not have to make another sequel in 2018.

For more on this topic, go to businessvalueexchange.com, sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Major Job Markets For Technology

Major Job Markets For Technology

The last piece I wrote, in April, took data from a personal finance website we respect, called NerdWallet. It used Bureau of Labor Statistics data to calculate tech employees per 1,000 total jobs in a metro area. But that was only half the score. It also looked at mean wages for those jobs, again from BLS data and then median gross rent from the Census Bureau.

Indeed’s list focuses 100% on job listings on its own site and the salary numbers come from estimates derived from its listings. It broke down software jobs into 18 of the most popular titles and then it calculated tech jobs as a share of all job listings in the 25 cities that have the greatest share of tech jobs. Hence several of the smaller cities on the Nerdwallet list, like Huntsville, AL and Durham, NC, did not rank on Indeed’s list…

Read Full Article: Forbes

Cloud Infographic – The Data Scientist

Cloud Infographic – The Data Scientist

Data Scientist Report

The amount of data in our world has been exploding in recent years. Managing big data has become an integral part of many businesses, generating billions of dollars of competitive innovations, productivity and job growth. Forecasting where the big data industry is going has become vital to corporate strategy. Enter the Data Scientists.

According to CrowdFlower’s 2015 Data Scientist Report: “Data scientists are on the frontlines of the big data explosion trying to make sense of it all. They are the ones who enable organizations to capitalize on the evolving big data landscape.”

CrowdFlower_Infographic_Survey

The infographic tells us that most data scientists enjoy their work. The majority of data scientists seem to be researchers. Since the big data explosion is relatively new, most data scientists have been working in the field for 2-5 years. Almost all (98%) of data scientists say that open source software is important to their workflow. Their most important tool is Excel.

They also add: “Data scientists are happiest at work when they are performing predictive analysis, mining data for patterns and interacting with data dynamically.”

The biggest concerns of most data scientists echo sentiments of many professionals in other fields – which is companies providing additional resources and setting more realistic project timelines and clearer goals.

It’s certainly no surprise that two-thirds of data scientists view cleaning and organizing data as their biggest challenge. Because 80% of data scientists feel there are not enough data scientists working in the field, the next coming years will no doubt see a boost in big data professionals. With these massive data sets, the increasing need for those who understand how to organize and manage it will continue to be in high demand.

By Jason Sander

CloudTweaks Comics
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Having Your Cybersecurity And Eating It Too

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Your Biggest Data Security Threat Could Be….

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