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By Lara Doyle | 12 September 2018
Artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things is putting pressure on an already stretched information technology workforce.
From skills demand and workforce planning to the suppression of AI adoption as well as it’s possible applications to workforce development, AI is already shaping the future of the tech talent landscape, and it’s not even *really* here yet.
Most enterprises are further away from a full-scale artificial intelligence revolution than the media hype would have you believe. Anyone who tells you The Next Big thing is about to change everything right away hasn’t lived through an ERP implementation and seen how deadline-shattering and painful systems integration can be.
But this won't stop enterprises from snapping up the limited supply of available AI talent. We saw this phenomenon a few years ago when new technology giants like Facebook snatched up all the talented developers they could find—before there were even projects to work on. The fear of being ‘Amazoned’ is making traditional enterprises anxious to be prepared before the next disruption catches up with them.
The talent for war has commenced. Top-tier machine learning and artificial intelligence PhDs who also know how to code have found themselves (quite profitably) in the middle of transfer deadline day-like bidding wars. Machine learning engineers and data scientists are seeing their stock rise; software engineers and masters of the algorithm are next.
These latest trends are bolstering a classic skill set – enterprise architecture. Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are enormously complex and involve enormous data warehouses or expensive cloud options, increased computing bandwidth and unfathomable levels of systems integration. All of this will require an economical technology architecture that will be flexible enough to pivot with the upcoming, unknown change.
Talent shortages and the cost of IT labour mean that the people leading IT workforce planning—whether that’s IT leaders or HR—are going to become a lot more flexible about their staff portfolios. Workforce portfolios will no longer be held to certain percentages of contract, permanent and statement of work (SOW).
Instead, leaders will be granted more flexibility to choose appropriate workforce solutions from a variety of options, including contract labour, internal development, apprenticeship programs, setting up new work locations based on the availability of talent, plus, of course, hiring and contracting.
Gartner recently told IT leaders to start investing in AI, IoT and information security (InfoSec) in the coming year. Realistically, AI and IoT are unlikely to cause disruption to most organisations this early. In particular because, despite successful limited-use cases, particularly with regards to IoT, organisations have neither the computing bandwidth nor the data analytics expertise to harness IoT’s capabilities.
With regards to AI, two simple challenges will inhibit its integration into the organisation: investment and change management when it comes to workforce adoption of new technologies and methodologies. That’s not to say the organisation shouldn’t be preparing …
AI is likely to impact workforce development sooner rather than later. The pace of the technological evolution is leaving business leaders in the dark about what precise skills are required for a role and are therefore asking for everything – compounding the already significant shortage in talent.
Faced with challenges posed by talent shortages and the need to stay abreast of technological advancement, new AI applications can help large enterprises to identify in-house talent for re-deployment. AI could create candidate success profiles, identify likely candidates for development and upskilling, preparing them for when the need arises.
Just imagine the implication of applying AI to picking the perfect fantasy football team!
By Lara Doyle | 20 July 2018
TEKsystems Digital participate in a tug of war tournament to raise money for chosen charity, Supporting Wounded Veterans.
Supporting Wounded Veterans is a UK-based charity that supports wounded campaign soldiers, including those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. These veterans are battling with both physical and mental injuries that have proved life-changing.
Supporting Wounded Veterans help them to rebuild their futures through a unique, specially designed, ski-based development programme which enables them to regain their confidence and embark on a new path to fitness and wellbeing. This is followed with a mentoring and job-finding programme that supports veterans to re-train and find employment. The ultimate goal is to help veterans re-integrate into society, ensuring long-term stability for themselves and their families.
TEKsystems Digital chose to support the charity because of the positive impact it has had on people close to their team.
The team took the field against strong competition from the charity’s other sponsors including HSBC, M&G Investments, Ruffer LLP, KPMG and even the Canary Wharf Security team. Some of the teams were much bigger than TEKsystems Digital but thanks to their teamwork and play to win attitude, they emerged as the unbeaten champions of the day.
Chelsea Karaolis – Senior Consultant at TEKsystems Digital – said, “The charity has helped me and my family following my brother's life-threatening brain injury and army discharge in 2011.
“The charity helped to rebuild my brother's confidence and enabled him to start his own motivational speaking and wellbeing company.
“Without the charity I'm not sure what position my brother would be in and I can't even begin to explain how thankful I am for their help.”
Supporting Wounded Veterans is a TEKsystems Digital chosen charity and they will continue to support its work throughout their 2018 Corporate Social Responsibility programme for the rest of the year.
TEKsystems hosts successful blockchain networking event after identifying an appetite for blockchain and cryptocurrency knowledge-sharing amongst clients.
“Blockchain and cryptocurrency have become extremely hot topics,” says Bronagh Fogarty, Senior Account Manager at TEKsystems.
“Through various conversations with our clients, contractors and candidates we recognised that our customers are eager to find out more about this emerging technology, the skills that are required and how it can be applied in their businesses.”
TEKsystems wanted to be facilitating that conversation and on 21 June hosted 35 guests at The Gable in the heart of Tech City. Over drinks and canapes, Bronagh, Melissa Usher and John Meyers brokered introductions while guests networked with peers.
Representing SMEs as well as enterprise organisations from a variety of industries including retail, technology, marketing, gambling, publishing and finance, delegates took the opportunity to discuss challenges, share wins and exchange ideas.
Conversation circled around topics such as the lack of knowledge within the industry about blockchain and cryptocurrency, nervousness around security issues and safeguarding the future of the industry. The lack of experienced blockchain developers was also a much-discussed topic.
“As an emerging technology, there will naturally be a shortage of skills until developers with an interest in blockchain have had an opportunity to gain experience and upskill themselves,” says Bronagh.
“However, we have noticed an incredible passion for the technology amongst our contractors and candidates with many pouring hours of personal time into learning the theory and its applications.”
The evening was thoroughly enjoyed by all. With no fixed agenda or allocated speakers, this was a relaxed opportunity for TEKsystems customers to get together, share their expertise and learn from each other.
July 03, 2018 | Lara Doyle
Just as the enterprise adjusts to the Cloud, along comes the Edge.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the latest technology disrupting the status quo. IoT are all physical objects that connect to the Internet and exchange data, such as thermostats, security cameras, vehicles, security cameras; you name it.
IoT was originally developed to solve a problem: computers were very good at processing data that humans inputted, but humans couldn’t input data fast enough, or accurately enough. IoT may have been in the works for decades but the pace of development has been phenomenal since the democratisation of technology. Today it touches all industries from the motor car industry to the health care sector and it has found its way into our homes and offices.
The speed to production of connected objects has been unprecedented. Gartner puts the number of connected items in 2017 at 9 billion, up from 1 billion just 8 years previously. By 2021, they predict that one million new IoT devices will be sold every hour. As the digital and “real” world converge and experiences become increasingly more immersive, the proliferation of data being collected is unparalleled.
With this upsurge in data being collected, it is becoming increasingly necessary to find a more efficient means of sorting, processing and analysing said data. Edge Computing is computing resources that are deployed remotely at the ‘edge’ of an enterprise such as an office, a shop, a hospital, a factory, etc and the ‘thing’ which is transmitting data. These computing resources – servers, storage, software and network connectors – are decentralised from central data centres. It is here, at the Edge, that data is then processed.
Edge Computing differs from traditional distributed computing because it is connected to IoT such as remote sensors, tablets and smartphones. In the absence of Edge Computing, data would first be sent to the Cloud where it is processed and analysed before being returned. With Edge Computing, that data is scrutinised and analysed at the site of production and only relevant data is sent to the Cloud to be stored.
This is beneficial to the business for a number of reasons, including time saved analysing data, downsizing storage volumes and making it easier to abide security and data privacy regulations.
Gartner’s digital business is the new business design where digital and physical worlds are blurred. It is the interaction of people, businesses and intelligent ‘things’. When this physical and digital convergence happens, business moments occur – “transient opportunities in which people, data, businesses and things work together dynamically to create value”. (Thomas J Bittman, VP and Distinguished Analyst, Gartner)
These moments are lost as current data processing methods are sluggish. Immersive experiences, such as augmented and virtual reality, are creating real-time, unpredictable interactions but latency, regulation and storage slow down the business’ ability to capture the moments.
What should businesses do to prepare for Edge Computing?
Gartner predicts that by 2022, as a result of digital business projects, 75% of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed outside the traditional, centralised data centre or Cloud.
In order to start preparing, Gartner recommends businesses should:
June 21, 2018 | By Lara Doyle
The impending exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union – known as Brexit – has brought into question the future of the UK’s standing as the Silicon Valley of Europe. What will the impact be to employment and access to available talent in Europe?
In early December 2017, the Brexit Divorce Principles – the key negotiable objectives of the first phase for the United Kingdom’s (UK) impending exit from the European Union (EU) were finally agreed.
The three principles core to the ‘divorce’ proceedings are:
The UK and the EU have also agreed to cooperate on nuclear, police and security issues and agreed to ensure that there will be continued availability of products on the market before Brexit to minimise disruption for businesses and consumers.
On 20 December 2017 the European Commission recommended draft negotiating directives for the second phase of the UK’s withdrawal and negotiations are set to continue.
As the negotiations continue to play out, uncertainty reigns supreme. Of the many, many concerns raised by Brexit one of the most pressing is the impact leaving the EU will have on the British economy and the labour market.
Despite political posturing, media doomsaying and general disheartenment being expressed by senior business leaders there are indications in early 2018 that the outlook might not be as gloomy as anticipated.
The National Institute of Economic and Social Research has estimated that the UK economy grew by 0.6% in the final quarter of 2017, “driven by both the manufacturing and the service sectors, supported by the weaker pound and a buoyant global economy”.
UK employment rates have continued to rise annually since 2011 (data: Office for National Statistics (ONS)). There are indications that UK businesses are likely to create jobs in 2018: the CBI has found that 51% of firms across the UK will grow their workforce in the year ahead. CityA.M. reported more than two-thirds of London’s financial services firms plan to recruit staff over the next 12 months, with the majority planning to bring permanent staff on board.
There is major unease, however, over the impact Brexit will have on the available talent pool. The ONS has released figures suggesting that net migration dropped by 106,000 in the 12 month period since the Brexit referendum took place. This is the largest fall in any 12-month period since records began in 1964.
The UK technology industry employs 1.5 million people and it is growing at twice the rate of the wider economy. In short, the industry is imperative to the UK and all steps should be taken to protect Britain’s position as a global technology leader, to urgently close the skills gap from within and to continue to attract highly-skilled professionals from the EU and beyond.
A Brexit without freedom of movement between the EU and UK will mean that businesses will not have access to a wide talent pool and they will find it hard to recruit for highly-skilled positions. Talent could also become potentially more expensive.
While one in five technology jobs are held in London, figures from The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) suggest that 68% of UK digital tech investment was made outside London, with Edinburgh, Cambridge, Bristol and Bath, Oxford, Manchester and Sheffield attracting almost £700 million of investment between them. The pinch to the technology sector and employment as a whole will be felt throughout the UK.
Non-Europeans who are already working in the UK’s technology sector should be relatively unaffected by Brexit in the short term (conditional on whether or not Britain maintains its global position in the industry). However, those EU nationals already embedded in the UK industry are probably experiencing a period of stressful uncertainty. Technology businesses can go a long way to support their current employees by engaging them with regular communications. It is important that right now they are made to feel like important and contributing members of the business.
In the meantime, while the Brexit negotiations continue, organisations should use this opportunity to identify at-risk areas of the business such as a concentration of EU employees or where succession plans are reliant on an EU employee. This is the time to be putting contingency plans in place, prioritising recruitment plans and identifying and investing in future sources of talent.
But as technology giants such as Google, Facebook and Snapchat have announced their intentions to expand in London in spite of Brexit, the Government is set to double the number of visas available to exceptional workers in areas like digital technology to 2,000. In a statement, Prime Minister Theresa May said, “Technology is at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy, as we will continue to invest in the best new innovations and ideas, in the brightest and best talent and in revolutionary digital infrastructure. And as we prepare to leave the European Union, I am clear that Britain will remain open for business.”
Most recently, a £2.5 billion Patient Capital programme and new startup visas were announced by the Prime Minister. “The measures we are announcing today will allow innovative British startups to invest in their future – and in the UK – by hiring more skilled people, expanding their business and exporting their expertise across the world.
“It’s a great time to be in tech in the UK, and our modern Industrial Strategy will drive continued investment, ensuring the nation flourishes in the industries of the future and creating more high-paying jobs.”
In June, the TEKsystems Stockholm office hosted TEKtalk – an opportunity for our contractors and candidates to network and exchange ideas.
Following on from the success of networking events the TEKsystems Stockholm office put on for their clients, the team wanted to give their contractors and placements a similar experience.
In June, they invited their customers to a TEKtalk event where they were given the opportunity to discuss the challenges and successes of their current roles and to enable them to grow their network with each other and with the TEKsystems consultants.
The TEKtalk was attended by around 20 guests who consisted of Developers, Testers, Business Analysts and Project Managers from a range of industries. During the after-work mingle, Scala Developer Marco Borst was invited to talk about functional programming. Functional programming is the process of building software by composing pure functions, avoiding shared state, mutable data, and side-effects. His talk was very well received prompting follow-up questioning from the audience.
Staffan Nöteberg, a renowned Agile Coach, discussed the latest trend of monotasking. Monotasking, also known as single-tasking, is the practice of dedicating oneself to a given task. It contrasts with multitasking, which is the ability to divide one's focus among multiple tasks. Staffan is a published author and accomplished speaker, who teaches monotasking and regex and consults in software development.
“Everyone had a great time,” said Louise Solar, a TEKsystems Consultant and event organiser. “Our guests were very relaxed and networked with each other very easily.”
“TEKtalk is an opportunity for our contractors to know that professionally they do belong to something, even though they work as freelancers, sometimes in isolation.”
“It was great to meet colleagues and TEKsystems’ employees,” one guest told us while another said, “The TEKtalk was an interesting perspective and a refreshing change from my everyday duties.”
June 05, 2018 | By Lara Doyle
The consulting services industry is experiencing incredible growth due to the upheaval caused to people and processes by fast-paced technological developments, political uncertainty, the regulatory landscape and risk management.
The Big Four – PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG – account for nearly 40% of the industry’s estimated $155 billion global worth. They look set to cling to their market dominance for the time being, despite being associated with tax avoidance scandals in recent years. This is largely down to their sheer size, global reach and household names, making them the first port of call for businesses seeking consulting expertise.
However, disruptive technologies and emerging competitors are challenging their long term market hegemony. The growth in the consulting services market is largely being driven by the race to digitalise by businesses of all sizes. Uncertainty due to political events such as Brexit are also a factor as well as the increasing complexity of regulations such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which, while a European Union (EU) legislation, will have international repercussions. Risk management remains a major source of growth which includes increased pressure on cybersecurity to fight fraud and protect data privacy.
These emerging consulting services competitors are impacting the modus operandi of the industry in general, driving new trends which are shaping the core functions of the industry.
As in all industries, customer experience is impacting business strategy for consulting services. Customer expectations are forcing the market to adapt swiftly to the changing times. Fiona Czerniawska of Source Global Research says that frictionless delivery will be a trend to watch out for in 2018.
“It’s a rare consulting firm that puts itself in its clients’ shoes and sees just how sclerotic some of its processes have become,” she says.
“And that matters because most of the high-growth opportunities in the market (think digital transformation, cybersecurity, customer experience, and data and analytics) all require some degree of cross-practice working.”
A LexisNexis industry report sites multi-sourcing as a growing trend. Instead of retaining the services of one consulting firm to manage all the elements of a project, businesses are preferring to retain multiple consulting firms with niche specialities and expecting them to collaborate on the successful outcome of a project.
MarketResearch.com echoes this finding and adds that consulting service firms are also becoming modularised as clients are preferring to pick and choose from a number of components with individual pricing that can be executed in house. Modularisation of services is particularly popular where a single service firm is not able to handle the complexities of a bigger project.
In the Global Consulting and IT Service Providers Trend Report, author Kumar Parakala writes about co-creation with clients. “Consulting and IT service providers will increasingly be expected to create solutions in close cooperation with clients. Elite consulting firms are currently leading the way with co-creation solutions.”
Consulting services are launching and enhancing their social media and content marketing presence, according to the Professional Services Market Global Report 2017. They are doing so in order to find and engage with clients online, to market their services and monitor their competitors. The growth rate of social media adoption within the industry is aligned with global Internet adoption and online communication and helps consulting services to improve brand awareness, increase their client base, and boost client satisfaction.
While artificial intelligence remains as much a hot topic in 2018 as it was in 2017, consultants can rest assured their jobs won’t be displaced by robots (just yet). However, consulting services firms are actively implementing automated back office functions in order to improve the customer experience and relieve office workers of laborious back office tasks. Automation reduces costs, improves customer service and allows for better oversight of trends impacting the clients’ business.
“New technologies that automate certain consulting functions will increasingly be viewed as an important complement to the skills of the professional consultants,” says the aforementioned LexisNexis report.
The virtual office is also being realised by the industry, enabled by rapid technology deployment, pressure to reduce costs and the proliferation of the smartphone. By placing the office infrastructure in the Cloud and relying on contract consultants (see The future of talent below), the consulting services industry is able to reduce costs for themselves and their clients while maximising growth.
The gig economy (a labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work, as opposed to permanent jobs) is a growing trend in the consulting services industry which traditionally nurtured the cream-of-the-crop employees for the long haul.
However, in such a strong growth market, the war for talent is real and finding and retaining top talent will continue to be top of the agenda at consulting services firms.
Fiona Czwerniawska says, “[We’re] hearing the first rumbles of discussion around how, in a world in which at least some of the work done by junior consultants is automated, the talent model needs to change.
“Most firms are optimistic, confident that a combination of reskilling and changes in recruitment will allow them to navigate waters brimming with potential reputational damage.”
As the consulting services industry grows and the pressure to reduce costs by those seeking their services increases, the scale and brand of the consultancy is playing less and less importance. Clients are seeking innovative and cost effective solutions and speed and flexibility are important factors in winning work.
Small-to-medium consulting services firms are challenging the bigger, more established firms with their ability to innovate and their agile pricing and service models.