SAS 70

July 19, 2019  12:28 AM

Can data governance be agile?

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT

The answer to this question is yes, data governance can definitely be agile. However, like the development of data management solutions, there does need to be some initial set up.

Data governance models can be loosely or highly structured. A lot of my initial experience was with what I call “grass roots” data governance. However, more recently as a consultant, I’ve been involved in more structured approaches as well. There are as many ways to “do” data governance as there are organizations “doing” it – and this is okay. The approach you decide to take should be one that correlates to your organization’s culture, data management maturity level, data governance objectives and desire for structure.

Some of the initial, foundational activities needed to initiate a data governance capability in your organization include:

  • a discovery phase to assess sentiment, identify stakeholders, identify opportunities (and business value) and focus areas, and start to develop goals and a data governance roadmap.
  • a foundational implementation phase to define the organization around data governance, communicate and educate stakeholders, secure executive support, and assign data stewards.

Following these initial steps, the data governance program can be set up as a highly structured organization and set of defined processes with tools and templates, or it can be set up as a less structured team of individuals who work together to accomplish the goals and work through the roadmap.

The agile part can come into play regardless of which approach is taken. When we use the term agile for building a data warehouse, for example, we’re typically describing the iterative development that takes place. This can be achieved because the subject areas to be developed can be identified, prioritized, and broken into releases, and the releases can be broken into smaller iterations of work, or sprints. The same can be done with a Data Governance program.

Many organizations will start on an endeavor to create a data dictionary, or develop Standard Business Language, or even define every data domain and assign a data steward accordingly for the entire organization. By taking this approach, it’s a whole lot of work up front without any value realization in the short term. Many of these initiatives eventually run out of steam.

An alternative, and more agile approach, is to identify smaller data governance initiatives based on strategic projects or business needs, and build from there. In this way, the organization can keep everyone apprised of progress and decisions, but the work effort is limited and focused. And the planned business value can be realized more quickly, thus increasing interest. Some may be concerned that taking a more agile approach to data governance may result in siloed decision making. This is a risk, but if you set up your foundational phases with the “big picture” in mind, the risk is lessened.

July 15, 2019  12:24 AM

Steps to Bringing a New Product to Market

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT

Turning an idea into a product on the shelf can be an extremely difficult process. If it is your first time attempting to do something like this, you should expect to face a number of challenges along the way. To ensure you successfully bring a new product to market, you’ll need to come up with a detailed plan on how you’re going to do this.

Deciding Whether the Idea Is Worth Pursuing

Your first step should always be deciding whether your idea is worth pursuing. Don’t rush into developing your product just because you are excited. Do your research on how well it will work, who your target demographic would be and whether they would be interested in your product, as well as how it can be made and what materials you’ll need to produce it. Make sure you take all of this into consideration before deciding if your idea is worth pursuing.

Securing a Patent

In order to protect your invention, it’s important you file a non-provisional patent as soon as possible. After all, you don’t want someone else copying your design and stealing your customers. Since non-provisional patents aren’t so cheap, some entrepreneurs may decide not to get it before launching their product. In case this is too expensive for you, make sure you get a provisional patent application. This will cost you only $100, and while you won’t actually be able to file a formal patent claim it will give you a “patent pending” status for 12 months. You should use this time to develop a good product and see whether customers would find it appealing and useful. This will help you determine if it’s actually worth applying for a non-provisional patent.

Developing the Product

In order to maximize your success, it’s important you carefully work on the product before you start selling it. Consider re-evaluating its name, pricing, and packaging to ensure it looks appealing to your target audience. If you don’t have a lot of experience in developing products or would like some assistance, you should get in contact with a company that offers custom development services. Doing this will help you improve the quality of your product immensely.

Identifying Your Target Market

How well your product will sell depends on the market you’re targeting. Big companies are usually able to develop products appealing the broad segment of the population. However, your best bet would be to start with a small and narrow segment. But in order to generate a lot of sales, you must first identify your target audience and figure out exactly who would be interested in buying your products. After all, the marketing plan you come up with will be completely based on what you identify as your target audience.

Researching Your Competition

When you decide to create a new product, you should aim to solve a specific problem. It’s crucial you know exactly who will want to use it and why. In order to avoid spending months working on something that has already been done, make sure you research your competition. Keep in mind that your products will sell only if they’re different from what your competitors are offering.

Creating a Marketing Plan

If you want to attract and retain consumers, you will need to create a good marketing plan. Doing this will help you build better relationships with potential customers. It will help you understand what they like about your product, thus helping you determine what you should focus on in the future. On top of that, a marketing plan shows consumers what makes your product different than anything else on the market. Note that just because a certain strategy is currently working doesn’t mean you shouldn’t update your plan and set new goals.

July 6, 2019  1:54 AM

Digital Transformation Challenges Worth Addressing

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT

When it comes to modernization within the business world, digital transformation plays a significant role. The problem is that, in 2019, many businesses are finding digital transformation to be an insurmountable challenge that holds them back from future growth. To a large extent, the future of these companies depends on how these underlying issues are dealt with.

As with buzzwords, it’s easy for meaning to get lost or muddled. So before digging too deep into this topic, let’s clarify what we mean by digital transformation.

Salesforce puts it best when they explain, “Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new — or modify existing — business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements. This re-imaging of business in the digital age is digital transformation.”

Digital transformation isn’t specific to a department like sales, marketing, or IT – it cuts much deeper. It’s about engaging with customers and creating value in a way that maximizes the opportunities created by evolving technology. But as with any technology issue, it comes with unique challenges that must be dealt with in a very direct, head-on manner.

Here are some of the biggest digital transformation challenges businesses currently face:

  1. Poor Collaboration
    According to a research study summarized by Mandel, companies are finding that the greatest barriers to digital transformation success are IT culture and business alignment. In particular, 50 percent say culture and collaboration are greater barriers than technology or cost, while 27 percent believe a lack of collaboration between IT and LOB is the top roadblock.Improved collaboration is both a strategic challenge and a ground-floor issue. In other words, not only do businesses need to develop better communication funnels and processes, but they need to be hiring IT professionals with the right soft skills. Characteristics like communication, empathy, problem-solving, and collaboration are just as important as technical competencies.
  2.  Resistance to Change
    Humans seem to be biologically hardwired to resist change. At the very least, most people would prefer things to remain relatively consistent from week-to-week and month-to-month. Digital transformation spits in the face of predictability – so people naturally resist. Unfortunately, the consequences of resisting change are manifested in many ways.As CIO contributor Howard Tiersky explains, “Digital projects vital to a company’s future success can have trouble getting funded, resourced, or marketed. These projects may be modified so as not to threaten retail or partner brands. They are held back by concerns about cannibalizing other revenue sources. They are asked to justify ROI to an unreasonable level of certainty. They are sent through endless legal reviews.”Everyone in the organization doesn’t have to be thrilled about the prospect of change, but there does need to be trust and cooperation in order to make digital transformation work. This takes time to address and requires business leaders to acknowledge and work through the dissonance employees feel. 
  3. Lack of Vision
    It’s astonishing how many businesses don’t have a clear vision for how they will meet their customers’ digital needs in the future. If you look at companies that are failing with digital transformation, you can almost always pin the blame – or at least the initial blame – on poor vision. When vision is established or clarified, it becomes much easier for stakeholders to assume responsibilities and trust that everyone else is moving toward the same set of objectives.
  4. Poor Budgeting
    The vast majority of businesses face some sort of financial constraints during the digital transformation process. When used as boundaries, these constraints can be a good thing. When viewed as excuses, budgetary limitations lead to problems. Budgeting isn’t something businesses should address after establishing digital transformation goals. It’s something that needs to be addressed during the goal-setting process in order to come up with a realistic plan for positive change. 

Putting it All Together

Digital transformation is something every forward-thinking business must develop thought and movement around. However, as you’ll discover, it’s not the easiest topic to tackle. By addressing challenges like the ones outlined in this article, you can increase your chances of smooth transformation that benefits your business for years to come. Don’t discount the weight of the decisions you make here and now.

July 3, 2019  1:44 AM

How to Prepare Yourself for Real World Success

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT

Graduating from college and entering the real world can be a very stressful experience for young adults. Don’t expect someone to give you a job just because you have a degree. You will have to work on your communication skills and network in order to be successful. In case you want to end up with a high-paying job at a good company, here are some steps you should take to prepare yourself for the real world.

Present Yourself Professionally

This is especially important to do for job interviews. Buy some professional attire and dress nicely for an interview. Be confident if you want to make a lasting impression. Learn more about body language and how to carry yourself with confidence. Make sure you don’t put on too many accessories. In case you’re a man, a wristwatch is enough. On the other hand, if you’re a woman you can go with a watch, a nice pair of earrings, and a necklace.

Clean Up Your Social Media

Although it’s perfectly normal you had some wild days and nights in college, it’s best to remove photos depicting these situations because it can have a negative impact on your career. Know that some employers will likely do some research on you online, and you don’t want them to find any embarrassing photos. This is why you should do a thorough search on every social media account you have and remove anything that doesn’t present you in a good way.

Expand Your Knowledge

Although you may have just earned an undergraduate degree, that doesn’t mean you’ll stop learning. No matter which industry you’re in, you’ll most likely have to face a lot of competition. In order to stand out, you will have to start learning new skills. You can either enroll in a regular or online course to learn whichever skill you want.

You can enroll in a marketing course if you’re thinking about a potential future in that field. If you want to gain financial wisdom, it’s recommended you take online accounting classes. Some of the skills you’ll pick up by learning accounting include financial recording and reporting, and how to help your business save money.

Forget about a Dream Job

Many young adults pass up on great opportunities because they’re chasing their dream job. However, it’s highly unlikely you’ll get there easily. Instead of waiting for an opportunity that may never come, you should focus on getting any job you can in your field. This is a great way for you to gain experiences and get recommendations for better positions. Avoid starting your job search with unrealistic expectations in case you don’t want to end up disappointed.

Don’t Be Unproductive Because You Don’t Have a Job

You shouldn’t relax and become unproductive just because you currently don’t have a job. Keep in mind that there are a number of different ways to spend your time productively, including freelancing and creating a blog or digital portfolio. It’s also a good idea to consider volunteering on certain projects that align with your professional aspirations.

While still unemployed, you have the perfect opportunity to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Make sure you hone every skill you’re not particularly good at but are needed for the position you’re applying for.

Find a Mentor

A great way to prepare for the real world while still in school is to find someone who will mentor you. Consider talking to career advisors and instructors at the school and try to build relationships with them. When you talk to them, be sure to ask a lot of questions. This will help you learn what to expect when you land your first job as well as how to overcome any fears you might have about your future.

June 9, 2019  5:21 AM

Getting Started with Agile

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT

For something to be agile, it must be able to move quickly and easily. In other words, efficient and effective movement that’s adaptable to changing scenarios. As such, it’s not surprising that Agile is the name of the project management method that software developers flock toward.

When a project is managed under the Agile philosophies, it moves forward gracefully; quality is not sacrificed for speed. Before you being the process of implementing the Agile framework, take a few minutes to understand the road ahead.

What is Agile?

Agile is a project management style that focuses on streamlining processes by breaking larger projects into smaller, more manageable tasks and participating in continuous feedback to be highly adaptable to changes as they arise. The entire process is based around the highly renowned Agile Manifesto, which is the brainchild of a collective of software developers who collaborated to improve developer processes.

Agile requires a strong DevOps mentality, bringing together developer teams with operations to ensure consistent work. Additionally, roles and ownership of projects and tasks are defined in such a way that everyone should know what they’re doing and how it ties into the project at large.

For many organizations, particularly software development agencies, Agile has revolutionized the project management process and resulted in a more efficient, profitable business model. However, the steps to implementing Agile can intense, requiring change management and shifts in processes across the face of the business. Agile is not complicated, but it is complex; businesses should take the time to read and understand the Agile Manifesto before proceeding.

Implementation Tips and Best Practices

The main mistake most businesses make when implementing Agile is to try everything at once. The implementation should be handled like its own project, with steps toward completion and success metrics identified. Here are some tips for getting started with Agile:

  • Choose one project at a time – rather than shifting all projects over to the Agile process, start with one or two new projects that can act as an experiment. Review what works and what doesn’t before expanding to other projects.
  • Choose the right people – be selective when choosing your Agile pioneers. While you may have many people who will eventually be good Scrum Masters or Development Team members, they might not be right for the initial trials.
  • Introduce sprints – sprints are cycles of work conducted in Agile that include six phases: plan, create, build, implement, measure, and launch. Remember, rather than considering the project overall, Agile breaks the big rocks down into smaller micro-projects. Start shifting the processes to accommodate this mindset.
  • Start holding stand-up meetings – daily stand-up (or Scrum) meetings will become regular practice in Agile. They require each team member to stand up and discuss what they’ve accomplished since the last stand-up, what’s next, and the challenges they face.

It’s important to remember that Agile and “doing things fast” are two very different things. The decision to move to Agile and the implementation process should follow the same principles: take on small tasks and get them right before moving on and scaling up.

June 8, 2019  5:20 AM

2019 Website Design Best Practices

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT

Just about anybody can put up a website these days, which is great news for anyone with a small business. But just because you have a live website doesn’t mean it’s going to lead to more business.

Many websites are designed so badly that within 50 milliseconds, people form a negative opinion. That’s how long people take to make up their minds about your business, so your website had better be good. In fact, the design of your website is the first thing that people notice about your company.

It informs people’s opinion about your company’s credibility and can break your company if the design is bad. So, what should your website include in 2019? We give you the lowdown.

Cut down

On your home page or landing page, cut down on the amount of text you use, and let the design of your website do the talking instead. Use fewer words and be precise. Use shorter paragraphs and shorter sentences, both of which are easier to read. But it’s also a good idea to vary the length of your sentences to keep reader interest.

The key to a successful home page is learning to say more with fewer words. Of course, you need to get out a whole lot of information on your brand. But too many words are off-putting and no-one knows where to start.

Have a clear CTA

Your Call To Action (CTA) is what you want someone who has landed on your homepage to do next. Your website should be designed such that your CTA is clear and unambiguous: you’re showing visitors exactly what to do next.

If you’re selling a product or service, you introduce it on your homepage with a next step clearly indicated by means of powerful, impactful design.

Don’t be one of the over 50% of websites whose CTA is noticed in under three seconds. And don’t forget a CTA on your interior pages, too. Most businesses forget this, so visitors have to get back to the homepage to convert.

Make an impact

When you think about your favorite websites, they probably aren’t made of neutral colors like beige and white. They’re far more likely to use color cleverly to add impact and draw attention to particular information, such as your CTA. But don’t just choose the brightest colors you can think of.

Red, for example, could put people off. Instead, think of what sort of mood you want to create with your design and choose your colors accordingly. Search engine optimization (SEO) is vital to keep you at the top of search engine rankings. For assistance with SEO, click on Toronto SEO.

The split-screen trend

One website design trend that’s emerging is to vertically divide the screen into two parts. It’s excellent for businesses that rely heavily on images, such as fashion designers, hairdressers, visual artists and many others.

The idea is to confine most of the text to one side, and most of the visuals on the other. It makes the whole page easier to look at, allowing the viewer to process each component alone rather than trying to make sense of a whole lot of different content types at the same time.

The ideal position for your CTA or other show-stopping content is where the two sides meet, creating a great focal point.

Go professional

Although website templates and instructions on how to build your own website abound, think long and hard before you design your own.

Your website is a major part of your brand or business’s digital presence, so it’s vital that it is designed to convey the image you want to put out there, and that it drives conversions. Hire a professional website designer, even if you manage the content yourself.

June 7, 2019  12:11 PM

Cyber Security Needs to Start With the Simple Things

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT

There is no way to ensure you don’t ever get hacked. After all, government agencies with insane security systems also get their data stolen by hackers from time to time. Of course, there is a huge difference between people who perform cyber attacks on government agencies and those who target individuals and businesses. The latter choose easy targets that don’t pay much attention to cybersecurity. With that being said, there are some very simple methods you can start using to make your data safer.

According to an article published by The Week, hackers exposed the personal information of 110 million individuals in 2013 and 2014. Your sensitive information can leak when a data breach occurs at a big organization. Although you won’t be able to prevent situations like this from happening, here are some simple things you can do to improve your cyber security both at home and at the office.

Use Stronger Passwords

The simplest way to protect yourself online is to start using stronger passwords. It’s worth noting that you should never use the same password twice. On top of that, each password you create should consist of at least four symbols, one number, one uppercase letter, as well as one lowercase letter. Avoid using names and birthdays as your password. It’s also a good idea to start using a password management tool, as it provides you with an easy way to store and manage all of your passwords.

Use Your Smartphone Securely

Securing your smartphone is as equally important as making sure security measures on your computer are up-to-date. One of the best things you can do to improve cyber security on your mobile device is keep its software updated. Keep in mind that many hackers target phones with older operating systems since they’re easier to penetrate. It’s also important you avoid sending any sensitive information via email or text. When you install applications make sure they are from trusted sources. Finally, update your mobile passcode and make it more complex.

Two-Factor Authentication

While proper passwords will help keep your data safe, an even better option is to use two-factor authentication when logging into an online account. Without this method of online identification, your log-in process would simply consist of entering a username and password. However, when you use two-factor authentication, you get to choose an additional identification method such as a PIN number or a second password. Keep in mind that there are numerous methods of authentication to choose from, including biometric-based security (i.e. fingerprints).

Use a Virtual Private Network

Using a virtual private network (VPN) is a great way to stay safe and anonymous online. This is essentially a service which masks your IP address so your online activity becomes untraceable. It works by creating a private network from a public internet connection. It’s recommended you use this every time you surfing the web on an unsecured WiFi network. Depending on your operating system, there are numerous different VPN products you can choose. You can find countless VPN apps for Mac, as well as for Windows and Linux operating systems.

Be Suspicious of Emails

You should be careful every time you receive an email from an unknown person or organization. This is why it’s best to avoid opening email from people you don’t know. In case you choose to open the message, it’s crucial you be careful about what you do next. For instance, if someone sends you a link and tells you to open it you should first hover over it to see where it directs to.

You should never visit unknown websites or download programs from suspicious sources because they usually contain malware which will silently compromise your device. Keep in mind that you may receive a malicious link from close friends in case they have been attacked as well, which is why it’s a good idea to be careful when opening every email you get.

June 6, 2019  5:09 AM

Best Practices in Social Media and Content for B2B

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT

Anyone can create a website, add content, and make accounts on different social media platforms to promote it. In fact, this is necessary for the survival and growth of your business since you’ll most likely have an incredibly hard time finding new clients if you don’t have an online presence. The reason why social media has become so important is that it allows people to research companies and learn more about their products and services. This applies to different types of businesses, including B2B organizations.

Use Different Social Media Websites

There’s no denying that LinkedIn is the most effective B2B social media platform. But this doesn’t mean you should neglect other websites. Note that you can generate new leads through other social media platforms as well, including Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Google+, and Instagram. Since many B2B marketers rely solely on LinkedIn it means you’ll have less competition on other social media websites.

Make Sure Your Content is Targeted

Choosing to write something you know a lot about is always a good idea. However, you will need to do more than simply write articles that are fun to read. In order to attract potential clients, you should make sure your content is targeted. Before you do this, it’s important to identify your target audience. You should know exactly why people would choose to pay for your products or services and create content that encourages them to do business with you.

Find the Best Times to Post

Determining when you should post is crucial to the success of your social media efforts. In case you don’t know when your key demographic is most active, simply try posting at different times of the day. It’s also recommended you try publishing on different days to the week and monitor the engagement. Note that your goal should always be to reach as many people as possible with every post.

Optimize Your Content

You can’t expect to generate new leads if you don’t have a good search engine optimization (SEO) strategy in place. If you optimize your content you’ll be able to reach professionals via search engines. Of course, this is much harder than it sounds, especially now when there is more competition than ever. Thankfully, you can try learning more about this through SEO training programs. Having a professional on your side can not only help you understand how it works but provide assistance in creating a strategy for your website as well.

Create a Personality

You won’t get far if you use your online presence only to broadcast your message. People won’t follow your accounts if they think you’re boring. This is why you should focus on creating a personality. Even though you should always be professional and serious when it comes to making business deals, it’s okay to have a little fun on social media. Make sure you engage with your followers and respond both to negative and positive comments.

Create Truly Helpful Content

Keep in mind that you should avoid making content too promotional because it may lead to potential clients losing their trust in your organization. This is especially the case with B2B marketing, since your target audience will be people who are experts in their field. The only way for them to start following you and consider working with you is if you create helpful content.

Paid Post Promotion

It’s always great when your company experiences organic growth online. However, you can’t rely on the hope that people will find your organization and send you a business proposal. This is why it’s recommended you promote your content on social media. This will allow you to set specific parameters and ensure you reach your target audience. Paid post promotion is most important in the beginning stages of your online marketing strategy since it will allow you to easily gain new followers.

May 28, 2019  6:27 PM

How AI and Machine Learning Are Affecting the Computer Science Industry

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT

It’s no secret that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are a big deal. By some estimates, within 15 years, automated algorithms and robots could take over approximately 40 percent of global jobs available to humans today.

If you’re in the computer science or computer engineering industry, news of this nature probably doesn’t affect you much. After all, the jobs being replaced are often entry-level, or those that require highly repetitive manual tasks. Computer science is a realm that would feasibly be in even higher demand with the advent of machine learning and AI. However, there are some important changes already developing thanks to the higher demand and higher excitement for these technologies.

The Push for “Sexy” Projects

For starters, AI and machine learning are hot topics in the realm of IT. Companies are clamoring for more machine learning solutions, even if they don’t fully understand them, pushing demand for new machine learning tools, scripts, and software to unprecedented new heights. For example, it’s estimated that by next year, roughly 20 percent of companies will have employees dedicated to monitoring and guiding neural networks, and more than 10 percent of new IT hires in customer service will be responsible for writing scripts for chatbots, one application of AI.

There are going to be several side effects of this push. First, novel projects that have the capacity to be even more impressive than conventional machine learning could be pushed aside, as our most talented engineers and computer scientists chase the positions that are offering the most money or the widest range of opportunities. This means the next truly original breakthroughs in computer science could be pushed back to make sure we explore this current trend to its fullest. Next, the demand for lower-level IT experts is going to shrink, making it harder to find entry-level positions, and virtually impossible to sustain a career indefinitely unless you have some kind of niche skillset.

The Diversity Dilemma

We’re also facing increasing consequences from the lack of diversity in AI and machine learning fields. AI experts are overwhelmingly white and male, and the byproducts of an industry with an overwhelming majority are typically problematic, unaware of how other populations are affected by their work. For example, in the past, facial recognition technologies have had trouble recognizing people with darker skin tones, since these systems were developed by people who were mostly white.

As interest in AI continues to grow, it’s going to show up in more places. AI will be giving you search results, choosing which news articles to show you, gatekeeping access to your important files and personal information, and possibly keeping you safe. And because the field will likely grow faster than the diversity problem can be solved, it’s going to introduce many new headaches—both for consumers and for computer engineers and scientists trying to stay ahead of those problems.

Harder Problems to Solve

Machine learning and AI also introduce a new layer of complexity that makes certain problems harder to solve—and it’s not just because they’re more complex than previous forms of coding. For the most part, machine learning algorithms aren’t necessarily a set of instructions; instead, they’re designed as a vague learning process for a machine to follow. The machine collects data, usually millions of examples of whatever it’s studying, and gradually learns about the concept, whether it’s recognizing faces in images or learning how to play Super Mario Bros.

The problem with this is that while we can see the evidence of the machine getting closer and closer to achieving its goal (or even surpassing human-level skills), the developers can’t “see inside” the algorithm to determine which pieces of information led to a specific conclusion. In other words, it’s incredibly hard to diagnose, specifically, where an algorithm goes right or wrong.

As AI and machine learning become more common, this is going to become an increasingly complex problem for computer scientists and engineers to address, requiring more insight, higher level skills, and possibly, entire new approaches to developing AI in the first place.

The Automation of Automation

We also need to take seriously the possibility of one day automating the process of creating new machine learning or, in an Inception-like twist, new automation software. Such a multi-layered approach to computer science would open a new branch of study, and require the creation of entirely new ways to look at problems in the computer industry.

AI and machine learning aren’t merely passing fads, though there may be even more novel computing breakthroughs on the near horizon. As a computer scientist or engineer, it’s your responsibility to predict and adapt to the massive changes in store for the industry in the coming years, as machine learning and AI become even more in demand.

May 25, 2019  11:25 AM

Climbing the Career Ladder in IT

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT

When you’ve graduated with your IT qualification, it’s time to enter the world of work. For most graduates, this is a daunting task. What few of them understand is that, despite their qualifications, they must start at the bottom.

The IT career field offers multiple job opportunities. An entry-level job as a programmer is the first step onto a career ladder that offers diverse opportunities. Work experience, on-the-job training, and further study may well be required to achieve your career goals.

Take a look at how you can climb the IT career ladder:

  1. Business analyst

The organization you work for may offer you the chance to work as a business analyst. A business analyst studies how technical systems works in the organization. They also study the company’s business model, process, and strategic needs.

Part of the analysis includes determining the needs of stakeholders such as management, employees, customers, vendors, and partners.

With some experience as a business analyst, you could move up the career path and manage a team of business analysts. Alternatively, you could start a business analysis company. Small and medium enterprises seldom make use of the services of a full-time business analyst. You can freelance and work your own hours.

  1. Finance career options

Moving up the career ladder means taking on more responsibilities that involve financial aspects of the business. These include doing cost-benefit analyses, budgeting, and overseeing expenditure.

Your understanding of how IT systems work means that you can easily adapt to the company’s accounting system. If the finance bug bites you, consider a career as a CPA (certified public accountant). You may need to do further college-level study in economics and accounting. After that, you should take exam courses for CPA prep before writing the board exam.

  1. Research and development (R&D)

If you’re an innovator, you might be comfortable working for the R&D department of the company. Or you might make a move to a company that specializes in R&D. This kind of work allows you to work on creating new products or technologies.

R&D employees work in the development of new systems and services that a company either utilizes or sells. Once you’ve worked as an R&D programmer for a while, you could seek a promotion to manage the R&D department. Putting in the hard work and effort could see you rise to a position in the company’s senior management team.

  1. Support

If you’re a people person, you could consider working in the support department. It might mean starting off working at the IT helpdesk. This is a job that allows you to apply your knowledge of IT in the lives of users. One of the essential qualities a helpdesk worker needs is patience. You also must be able to adapt your advice to the needs and level of understanding of the caller.

Working at the helpdesk allows you the chance to progress to the position of IT Support Manager. This can, in turn, lead to a position of Support VP. There you’ll manage the IT and other support departments such as customer care.

  1. Hardware engineering

Software is continually evolving, and hardware must meet its needs. Hardware engineers design new hardware. They make prototypes and test them before they are manufactured in bulk. If you want to work in hardware engineering, you’ll start in a lower-level position as a technician.

Most hardware engineers work for computer manufacturers. However, it is possible to secure a position at a research organization. A hardware engineer needs to be very detail oriented. This is an increasingly competitive field of work, so jobs are not as plentiful as they are in other fields.

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