Friday, 20 December 2013

The skills you need to succeed in Big Data


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In the New Year, companies will have to make a decision, whether to hire new talent for Big Data or train existing data management talent with new skills. It will be a crucial decision, because Big Data is the next big deal.

Organisations, utilising big data differ from those with traditional data practices, because they:

  • Pay attention to flows as opposed to stocks
  • Rely on data scientists and product and process developers as opposed to data analysts
  • Move analytics from IT into core business and operational functions

How does this manifest itself in business? Companies aim to measure customer sentiment or respond to breaks in train tracks in time to effect pre-emptive change. They need to analyse the data coming in from remote points as it flows in, not after it has been 'stocked' in a master database or migrated to a data warehouse.

They also need the statistical analysis skills to know which questions to ask of this data, and how to ask questions to arrive at new processes and even new products that the business sees commercial potential in. To get there, companies must have people possessing these technical skills as well as a strong business understanding.

In-demand skills to succeed

Nowadays, many businesses struggle to find suitable personnel, who tick all the boxes. Thus, the competition between Big Data professionals gets more intense, because those who really got the skills need to stand out. On a different note, Big Data in businesses doesn't run well without contributions from traditional data competencies; therefore the required skills are quite mixed.

“For instance, 59 per cent of companies responding to a 2012 survey conducted by analyst firm Information Difference said that their big data projects were 'highly linked' to their master data repositories. In many cases, master data (e.g. customer data, product data, and so on) was being used as 'vectors' into big data queries that began the process of probing piles of unstructured and semi-structured big data for clues on how customers react to certain offers, or how products were being accepted in certain markets, and so on.”

“In these cases, it was traditional master data that actually formed the core of what big data queries were constructed from — and so it was no surprise that 67 per cent of respondents in the same survey also said that master data was driving big data, rather than the other way around.” – ZDNet.com

Big Data skills vs. Traditional Skills

Big Data demands new programming and analytic skills, that today's typical data analysts lack. Most of these skills fall under the heading of 'data science'.

Key skills include:
  • Strong Background in Mathematics
  • Strong Background in Statistical Analysis
  • Knowledge of Statistical Programming Languages
  • Familiarity with Analytics Modelling Techniques
  • Knowledge of Data Subject Matter
  • Ability to Experiment with Data 

Big Data also demands a new set of technical skills that aren't readily found today in many enterprise data centres. These skills include data architecting that includes the build-out of databases that span terabytes of data, being able to administer software frameworks like Hadoop, expertise in databases like noSQL, Cassandra or HBase; or in analytics programming languages and facilities like R or Pig.

But if these are some of the hard skills areas, Big Data also demands a set of soft skills that enterprise IT has customarily been short on. These include the ability of people to think across the organisation, to be aware of the ultimate needs of the business, to know which analytics questions to pose to get to those ultimate needs, and to measure and communicate results.

To learn more about the essential skills in Big Data, read the full article on ZDNet.com

About the Author:       
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Christmas scams - four tips to keep your personal information safe


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With the festive period approaching, many people are eagerly browsing the web to find some last minute deals on gadgets. Word of advice: if a deal is "too good to be true", it probably isn't.

Kaspersky Lab issued the following warning this week: "As we get ready for the latest round of Christmas-themed status updates, we should also prepare for a barrage of scams on social networks in the coming weeks too".

In the lead to Christmas, more and more gullible Facebook users are becoming targets and victims of scammers. There are hundreds of pages offering free gadgets such as PlayStation 4s, and insanely good deals on new Apple products, in exchange for your personal information.

Despite the fact that the majority of these scam posts rarely look legitimate, many people are falling for them. The below give-away received 646 entries. 



Kaspersky’s four tips to keep your social profile and personal data safe:
  • Don’t give away too much. Sharing is caring, especially at Christmas, but it doesn’t mean you have to share your personal information. Try keeping it safe by not sharing too much. If you lose control of your social media account to a hacker, it could mean more than just having your privacy infringed upon. They can also use your information to potentially breach other accounts, such as online banking services or e-commerce accounts, like Amazon.
  • Don’t click on untrusted links. Scammers use various techniques to get people to give away their Facebook login details. Clicking on an email link entitled "Facebook X-mas Specials", for example, could lead to a fake Facebook portal which invites users to enter their credentials. Since the interface seems identical to the real entry page, users don’t realise what’s happening until it’s too late. Once the victims have entered their details, the hacker has their passwords. You should, therefore, never click links that don’t come from trusted sources. But even if a link has been posted from a friend, still watch out - they may have been hacked.
  • Use two-factor authentication. Social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter are becoming more and more security-conscious. They both have introduced two-factor authentication, which means the user can give another credential, such as a unique number sent to them via text or an application, when logging in. So even if someone gets hold of your details, they won’t be able to login as they won’t have that extra credential.
  • Get the right security. Different types of malware are circulating the web trying to steal social media passwords, such as the innocent-sounding Pony virus. Others, like Kelihos, are spread across Facebook and attempt to steal other personal data. Outside of taking precautionary measures, such as thinking before clicking on links, users need to invest in a decent anti-virus solution that can deal with the latest and most prevalent threats. A properly configured firewall is also essential. 

About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Learn how to code on your smartphone


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Earlier this year, Firebrand published an article, entitled “What most schools don’t teach” It discussed the great opportunities offered by learning how to code, at an early age. Well, those opportunities are getting even greater, so there is no time to waste. Especially because in a few years’ time, coding will be a basic requirement for many job roles.

To educate people, interested in coding, Codeacademy just launched a new, interactive way of getting to know the basics. It’s free, designed for all age groups and you can use it on the go. You just need to have an iPhone.

The startup and its ‘start-app’

The mission statement of the “Hour of Code” app is that in just a one-hour lesson, you can learn the basic fundamentals of coding, through a variety of activities and tutorials. 

Codecademy was founded in 2011 by Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinski. In 2012, more than 450,000 users signed up for online courses as part of the company's Code Year initiative. Although headquartered in the United States, Codeacademy has undoubtedly gone global, with now over 60% of its users located outside the US.

Co-founder Zach Sims said: "Codecademy was originally built for someone like me to learn how to code. Now, we want to help provide an easy way for people to get the programming skills they need to learn skills, start businesses, and find new jobs.”

"We're all looking to make learning as interactive and fun as possible, and to continue helping our users change the world. Most other programming instruction companies teach by using videos or text-based approaches. We think the best way to learn how to code is to learn by doing – to actually code."



How you can learn coding fundamentals

The app uses much of the free introduction material available on Codecademy.com to create five new, mobile-focused lessons that explore the foundations of code within 60 minutes. “Hour of Code” breaks down coding fundamentals into small bits and gives lesson-by-lesson guidance, to build the right foundations.

According to Codecademy co-founder Zach Sims, you can “do Codecademy online, on a walk, in transit and use that time to be productive and learn skills instead of playing games”.

In an email conversation with Gigaom’s Lauren Hockenson, Sims also said that this is only the beginning of Codecademy’s mobile ventures. The company will continue to expand the variety of courses in the "Hour of Code" app, and also work on future mobile applications.

If you’re interested in coding, download “Hour of Code” or check out our Microsoft MTA Software Development & .NET Fundamentals training course, where you'll learn the basics in just four days. 

About the Author:       
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Important updates to the Microsoft Partner Program


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Microsoft recently announced that it would reschedule the planned changes to its Microsoft Partner Network program, which were revealed at this year’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC). According to Julie Bennani, General Manager, Microsoft Partner Network, the reason for the delay is to give partners more time to prepare for the changes.

What’s changing and when?

The announced changes were divided into two program releases, with one happening in February 2014, while the other one in late Q3 of 2014. How that impacts you depends on your level of partnership and business model.

Changes in February 2014


  • New MAPs launch: A new universal version of Microsoft Action Pack subscriptions, leading with cloud, will be available.
  • Offer Cloud IUR: Cloud internal use software rights (IURs) will be offered as a part of our core IUR benefits to both MAPS and Competency partners.
  • Retire Cloud Essentials: As planned, the Cloud Essentials program will be retired as of June 30, 2014. Partners, who wish to continue to receive cloud benefits, should look to enrol in the Microsoft Action Pack subscription or a competency.

Competency-specific changes:

  • New Intelligent Systems Competency: A new Intelligent Systems competency, building on the momentum related to the “Internet of Things” will launch.
  • Digital Advertising: The Digital Marketing competency will be renamed the Digital Advertising competency to better reflect the opportunity and partners this is designed for. This includes some minor changes to requirements.
  • Requirement Updates: Standard updates to requirements (i.e.: exams, assessments and application tests) to reflect the latest products in market.


Coming late Q3 of 2014


  • Remaining Incubation cloud programs will be retiring: Cloud Accelerate, Cloud Deployment and Azure Circle programs will phase out at this time. Microsoft will allow new partners to join these programs until this time to enable them to continue earning cloud accelerator incentives. Bear in mind that new partners, aiming to get Cloud IUR after the February release, will need to earn these rights via MAPs or by earning a competency.  
  • Infrastructure competencies mergingThe existing Server Platform, Management & Virtualization and Identity & Access competencies will merge to become the new “Datacenter” competency as announced at WPC in July. This change is designed to help partners deliver on the Microsoft Cloud OS strategy.  Microsoft will offer new training content to prepare for this in February, giving partners more time to prepare. 
  • Business Intelligence becomes Data AnalyticsThe Business Intelligence competency will change to Data Analytics, signalling the increased emphasis on Big Data scenarios. This is not just a name change as Microsoft will introduce new requirements as well. Training material will be made available during the first half of 2014.
  • Hosting competency retiring, hosting tracks launching: Per hosting partner feedback, the current hosting competency does not effectively support their needs. In response, Microsoft will offer unique hosting tracks within the following core competencies - Datacenter, Messaging, Communications and Data Analytics. This enables Microsoft to recognise hosts more precisely for the solution/service offered - what matters most to customers - while introducing requirements and benefits that are more relevant and tailored – what matters most to these partners.
  • Mobility competency retiring: With nearly all devices becoming “mobile” and with the rapid shift to smartphone, Microsoft will retire the Mobility competency and transition current partners into the Application Development or the Devices and Deployment competency appropriately.

If you have any questions about these updates, feel free to give our Microsoft experts a call at 
0207 907 1120 or email Marion Hodges at mh@firebrandtraining.co.uk

About the Author:       
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Monday, 16 December 2013

Andre Villas-Boas sacked – we are offering him FIVE courses for ZERO money

Dear Andre,

Sorry to hear of your recent defeat(s) and sacking. Perhaps you might consider a change of career?

The IT industry is full of great opportunities and a committed individual like yourself, should have no trouble finding a job. You just need some training.

We are running the Certified Ethical Hacker course, which only takes five (5) days. Oh sorry, too soon? Take the CompTIA A+ instead, that’s only four days. It’s running soon, so you can quickly complete the cert and be ready by early 2014 for a first line support engineer role.

Salaries are starting from about £30k, which might be a sudden drop for you, but it’s still better than going on the dole.

We look forward to welcoming you on our course!

Kind regards,

Cyber-criminals seek ransomware creation kit


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Following the grand-scale damages (12,000 victims per week) caused by Cryptolocker, cyber-criminals are now seeking to mass-produce and customise new forms of ransomware. As we’ve discussed in a previous article, Crytoplocker is an increasingly common Trojan horse malware, which encrypts its victim’s files and then demands a bitcoin payment for the decryption.

According to James Lyne, global head of security research at Sophos, there’s evidence that many cyber-thieves are willing to cash in to get a share from the success of ransomware programs such as Cryptolocker.

Documents have been circulating online looking for developers to write a kit that anybody could use to design their own ransomware. These kits have led to a huge rise in the number of other malicious programs, and by removing the need for any technical skill whatsoever; they are enabling more and more users to commit cyber-crimes for the first time. What’s more, some criminally minded developers even offer technical support for those that get stuck with creating their malicious software.

Because of its high success rates in making victims pay, Cryptolocker is expected to attract even more "investors" and followers, who will try to profit from launching modified versions of the program. "There could be a lot more mainstream cybercriminals looking to go "noisy"," said James Lyne. He also added that "Cryptolocker is very much a deviation from the norm," and “it is a sign of things to come.”

To learn more about the methods and dangers of Cryptolocker, read our previous blog entry and watch the following video: 


About the Author:       
Peter writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Only one day left to get your 25% discount

What’s your most wanted certification? Is it PRINCE2, CCNA or maybe an MCSD? Treat yourself to them now or choose from 100s of other courses and you’ll get 25% off the RRP. Book now for 2013 or early 2014, and you’ll be even better prepared for the challenges of the New Year.

Here’s what you need to do to get your discounted training: click on the image below or give us a call at 080 80 800 888 and our colleagues will guide you through the process.

Act fast, get the certification you need at the price you want. The offer ends tomorrow (12 December 2013) at 5.00pm. Don’t miss out! 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

British Airways, schooling the likes of Disney, Coca Cola and IBM when it comes to building a Google+ following.

B



A Google+ profile is like a gym membership, everyone’s got one, but most don’t use it. This makes building a social following on Google+ notoriously difficult for major brands. So isn’t it just awesome when a select few show the masses exactly how it’s done. That select few are the airline brands.


British Airways are leading the way in a Google + follower phenomenon emerging amongst airlines. Whilst most top 100 global brands including Disney and IBM struggle to gain Google+ followers, leading airline brands British Airways, Delta and Emirates fly ahead.


Let’s take a look at the airline success stories in a little more detail.


The numbers do the talking

For the purpose of this post, I’ve contrasted Google+ followers for five of the top 100 Global Brands according to the Financial Times, with five leading airline companies that are putting them to shame.
Let’s take a look at the numbers as of 09/12/2013:


Google+ following for the Top 100 Global 
Google + Following for airline brands     
Coca Cola – 1,195,542
British Airways – 2,420,092
eBay – 375,047
Delta – 1,839,806
Amazon – 353,654
KLM – 1,900,065

Disney – 236,716
American Airlines – 1,682,864

IBM – 30,057
Emirates – 1,438,385







These figures are astonishing; British Airways currently outperform Coca Cola by a ratio of 2:1.  Take into account Coca Cola’s $90.2 billion valuation with British Airways $3.7 billion valuation and the assumption there is a vast gulf in marketing budget, this contrast begins to take on the biblical quality of David vs. Goliath.


Who cares?

Whilst the average Social Media Manager is furrowing their brow and thinking the airline brands success a minor victory, the SEO savvy amongst you will be nodding knowingly at British Airways and Co.’s success. Who cares? Google, that’s who.

Moz, a leading authority on SEO, have just released their 2013 Search Engine Ranking Factors report in which there is an undeniably strong correlation between followers and +1’s on Google+ with, improved search results in Google.

The knock on effect is quite simple:



More Google+ followers and +1s = Improved Google Search Results = More visits from Google = £££s


Replicating British Airways success story

As the most followed airline brand on Google+, we took a closer look at British Airways to find out just what has made them so successful. After trawling their many websites and scouring the web for marketing promotions, British Airway’s strategy looks like it’s all about doing simple things.

Here’s how we think they did it:


  • Implement Adwords social extensions to boost +1’s
  • Across the main BA site and subdomains, they have added the “follow” button to the footer
  • Sharing lots of great content from their sites BA high life, BA business life, Club BA and other third parties… Mashable etc.
  • Using lots of big images and video content to make the Google+ page visibly appealing
  • Adding the “follow” button into their mailer.
  • Linking their Google+ profile  with their main site so it shows in the Google search results


It’s not all success….

It looks almost too easy, for six months British Airways maintained a linear growth of almost exactly 50,000 followers a week. It does however look like the bubble may have burst, in the last few weeks British Airways have experienced a slowdown to what would now seem a meagre 3500 extra followers a week. And they are not alone, KLM and Emirates have experienced an almost identical plateau with Delta now losing followers!

Image from Social Bakers

Where British Airways dominated on Google+ against the top 100 global brands, the same can’t be said for their Facebook and Twitter profiles. A quick look shows only 1,083,743 Facebook ‘likes’ and 337,838 Twitter followers. Not so impressive when compared against the same top 100 global brands they so thoroughly embarrassed earlier.



     

Facebook
         

Twitter
British Airways
1,083,743
337,838



Coca Cola
76,934,326
2,196,801
Amazon
22,105,578
858,503
eBay
6,880,904
285,022
Disney
45,449,840
3,386,905
IBM
275,962
81,384




This deficit becomes amplified as British Airways seem to be placing greater marketing focus on Twitter and Facebook, compared with their Google+ counterpart. They have run a series of viral campaigns, such as Race the Plane and their Perfect Day competition, which were not run on Google+. Despite this, they haven’t been able to match the top 100 global brands, nor even their following on Google+.


Where it counts

Still, British Airways and the other airline brands have created the success where it counts. Success on Google+, compared with Facebook and Twitter is likely to have far greater benefits with improved search rankings and more traffic.

It’s only a matter of time before all the major brands turn their focus to Google+ whilst aiming for SEO success. Why not join them by checking out our new accelerated 3 day Search Engine Optimisation course.


Think we’ve missed a trick?

Spotted other examples of how the airline brands are succeeding that we’ve failed to highlight, why not comment below?

About the Author:       
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Neverquest – a virus designed to empty your bank accounts


By 
Kaspersky Lab has recently published an article about a new “banking Trojan”, called Neverquest, which is a new Trojan horse virus, capable of recognising hundreds of financial sites, including hundreds of English, German, Italian and Indian banking platforms. This Trojan is particularly dangerous, as it spreads itself via social media, email and file transfer protocols.

How it can drain your accounts

When the infected users try to login to their banking sites the virus reacts by activating itself and stealing user credentials. Neverquest then sends the stolen credentials to its command and control server. After getting the credentials, attackers can use them to remotely log into compromised accounts via virtual network computing (VNC). With this technique, attackers are basically using the victim’s own computer to (potentially) empty their bank accounts, which makes it very hard to distinguish between legitimate transactions and thefts.

When your account is breached...

Once the attacker has complete control over the victim’s account, he can empty it into a different account under his control. However, to make the money more difficult to be traced, attackers often make several transfers to other victims’ accounts, before obtaining the money themselves.

It's not a new thing

Banking Trojans have been around for some time. According to Sergey Golovanov, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, Neverquest is trying fill in some holes in the market:

“After wrapping up several criminal cases associated with the creation and proliferation of malware used to steal bank website data, a few ‘holes’ appeared on the black market. New malicious users are trying to fill these with new technologies and ideas. Neverquest is just one of the threats aiming to take over the leading positions previously held by programs like ZeuS and Carberp.”

To read more about Neverquest, visit the official blog of Kaspersky

About the Author:       
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Friday, 6 December 2013

87.2% of IT professionals think classroom-based training is better than self-study.


Firebrand recently conducted a survey to get the opinion of the IT industry on classroom-based learning vs. self-study, when it came to preparing for exam success. Using SurveyMonkey as the platform,  a total of 952 responses were collected and collated.

Outlined below are the results of the survey in more detail including the raw numbers and charts showing visual representation of the data:

Which form of training gives you the best chance to pass your exam and gain professional certification?

There were two options to answer this question, "classroom-based learning" or "self-study". A total of 952 IT professionals answered this question. The chart below shows the results:




This data tells us 87.2% of IT professionals think classroom-based training is better than self-study when it comes to preparing for exam success.

Why is self-study worse than classroom-based learning?

Respondents who preferred classroom-based learning (830), were then asked why self-study was worse. There were 5 options available, respondents were asked to select all which apply, options were: 

  • No qualified instructor to teach you and provide guidance.
  • It's easy to get distracted.
  • It takes too long.
  • Self-study material alone is often not enough to prepare you for the exam.
  • Other (please specify)

98.5% of respondents (818) chose to complete this question. The responses are contained in the bar chart below:


This data tells us that IT Professionals think ease of distraction (75.8%) and the lack of a qualified instructor (71.5%) are the two biggest reasons why self-study is worse than classroom based training when preparing for exams. Another common reason (59.5%) is that IT professionals believe the self-study material alone is not enough to prepare for the exam.

22.7% of respondents (186) selected "other", outlined below are a selection of reasons given:

"When studying alone you tend to think of all theories and practices in terms of your current working environment e.g local government, banking etc. Classroom study allows you hear of real life examples across a number of sectors which help to broaden thinking and fix learning."


"Feedback and questions from fellow students often raise issues that you might not think of when studying alone."


"Self-study rarely provides adequate synopsis and insights gained from the instructor's experience, which places new concepts into better context"


"1-Lack of lab facilities in technical study,  2-Inability to have mistakes corrected"


"Everyone has different learning styles and hearing real life examples from an instructor are more likely to be memorable than reading dry text from a book.

"I am a kinaesthetic learner with a borderline reading disability (oh yeah and an ex teacher): QED books don't work - have to hold, touch, see, talk, do, ask.... books are kinda *#?*# for that."

"It's the interaction with the other students. You may think you know / understand something, then someone else asks a question and you realise you didn't quite get it"

What do you think?

Share your thoughts with us. Maybe you prefer self-study, classroom-based learning or both, maybe you just think our results are plain wrong. Join the conversation by responding in the comments section below.



About the Author

As part of Firebrand's global marketing team, Edward actively works to serve the IT community with news, reviews and technical how to guides. Working in the Industry for almost 3 years years, Edward has a wide variety of experience with Microsoft Technologies including SharePoint and Windows Server and Exchange Server. Edward is an active member of the IT community contributing to a variety of tech publications including Microsoft TechNet, Channel Pro and PC Advisor among others.


Hacker Halted Europe Interviews Part 6 – Svavar Ingi Hermannsson


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In October, EC-Council’s Hacker Halted came to Europe for the first time. Firebrand attended the conference in Reykjavik, Iceland and interviewed industry experts about the hottest topics in cyber security.

Svavar Ingi Hermannsson is an Information Risk Management expert at KPMG. He has over 20 years of experience in computer security. His expertise covers code auditing, penetration testing, and vulnerability assessment.

Until recently Iceland has been relatively untouched by serious cyber-attacks; however indications are that increasing sophistication is being used to target local entities. At Hacker Halted Europe, Svavar’s keynote presentation addressed the current level of Network Security in Iceland, based on a recent nationwide study undertaken by KPMG.

As part of the study, they scanned the entire IPv4 range of Iceland. This scan discovered over 2,000 Cisco boxes, which had open ports running and over 700 of them had open telnet ports.

To learn about further findings of the research and the increasing IT security awareness in Iceland, watch the full interview: 


About the Author:       
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Why your business needs to create and develop Big Data skills from within


By 

These days, one of the key needs for most businesses is the ability to react to changing market requirements in real-time. However, a predicted shortage of skilled big data analytics IT specialists could mean that many businesses keep failing to react quickly enough and lose out to their competition.

Real-time responses give you the edge

In the past, businesses had the luxury of changing at their own pace. Nowadays, the ‘always on’ internet, 24-hour rolling news, and the ability of social media to accelerate events, means a business that works in real-time will have a huge advantage.

CEOs and board members want to see when sales are up or down, or when teams aren’t performing, and demand that measures to solve these problems are put in place immediately, not two weeks or six months later when the problem has got out of hand. A new tool available to businesses helps them create real-time views of their business – business analytics (BI) and big data analytics allow a business to crunch huge amounts of the data received day in and day out from their websites, CRM systems, sales systems and ERP systems, so it can see exactly where it is at any time.

A shortage of skills, yet again

Unfortunately, the skills required for BI and Big Data are not easy to come by and those who are skilled in this area can demand high salaries. A recent survey by Teradata found that 42% of European businesses were currently looking to recruit data scientists and other big data analytics roles, with most of the pressure coming from CEOs and the boardroom. More than one-third (36%) cited the commercial potential of big data analytics in meeting their strategic goals as the key reason for recruitment.
    
Further digging into the survey data shows that businesses wanted not just big data IT skills, but also an intimate understanding of business. Thirty-seven per cent of the businesses surveyed anticipated that potential candidates would come from existing employees with business skills, with the majority (51%) of these working and reporting into departments other than IT.

While finding IT experts is hard enough for most businesses – a recent report by City and Guilds found that 74% of employers in the digital, IT and information services industry claim to be facing a skills crisis and are forced to look abroad for talent ­– the special requirements of big data, with its need for a mix of IT and business skills, makes recruitment even more difficult, even for a business with the deepest of pockets. 

The solution: hire an apprentice

However, the solution for most businesses is already within their grasp and it doesn't require them to spend huge amounts. Big data is largely in its infancy so most businesses have a few years in which to build their skills – and that timescale sits perfectly with an apprentice scheme. By taking on an IT apprentice through Firebrand and enrolling them on our big data courses, you can take young talented individuals either from within your business or recruited locally and mould them into the IT and big data experts of tomorrow.   

Visit Firebrand Apprenticeships to learn more about the scheme and how you can hire an apprentice. 

About the Author:       
Frank is managing director and partner at Firebrand Training. He has over 20 years of experience in business development, account management and IT training.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

100,000s of IT roles unfilled by 2015 - how can we get kids interested in them?


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Astronaut, police officer, TV personality, singer, doctor. These are just a few standard answers to the question, that every single person on Earth has been asked when they were little: what do you want to be when you grow up?

Educating children about career opportunities is never too early, yet very few people do it. The IT industry offers 100,000s of roles, which guarantee variety, great earning potential and most importantly a job for life. Yet, according to the European Commission, "there will be a deficit of over 900,000 trained IT staff in Europe by 2015" which will increase even further if children and young adults don't get into IT.

How would you get your kids interested in pursuing a life-long career in IT?  

We rarely think about this, but...

Has anyone ever heard a child wanting to become a software developer for instance? Unlikely. (Okay, maybe Thomas Suarez.) But why is that? Kids love playing games and goofing around with fascinating apps on gadgets. Imagine how cool it’d be if they could create their own games. Not to mention, they’d be learning skills that would stand them in good stead for a high-earning career in IT.

The number of app developer courses and job opportunities are almost beyond imagination, yet interest is still relatively little. There are literally thousands of great IT apprenticeship opportunities for kids in the UK, many of which remain unfilled each year.

It's a win-win, if we do it right

It is obvious that we have to inspire and motivate more youngsters to pursue a career in IT, because it's for everyone's benefit. It'll benefit them, because they'll have challenging, well-paid jobs. It'll benefit technological development, because more committed and bright minds will be contributing to it. 

And most importantly, it'll benefit the economy. By meeting the growing demand for qualified workers, the UK IT industry can continue to expand, delivering billions of pounds in future revenue.


How do we make it happen?

Will the new national curriculum encourage more youngsters to get into coding? Will roles in Big Data, cloud computing or IT security one day be more popular than singing contests, media studies or acting? If so, parents, teachers and organisations should all participate to make it happen.

How would you encourage your children to take on the 1,000s of opportunities in IT? What would be your way to make them interested? Share your thoughts with us in comments or tweets @BeAFirebrand using #getkidsintoIT

About the Author:       
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Friday, 29 November 2013

Hacker Halted Europe Interviews Part 5 – Alexander Polyakov


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In October, EC-Council’s Hacker Halted came to Europe for the first time. Firebrand attended the conference in Reykjavik, Iceland and interviewed industry experts about the hottest topics in cyber security.

Alexander Polyakov is the co-founder and CTO of ERPScan Security Monitoring Suite for SAP. He’s an expert on the security of enterprise business-critical software, such as ERP, CRM SR, as well as enterprise applications developed by SAP and Oracle. Alexander is the author of numerous surveys and whitepapers devoted to IT security research in SAP.

The conference organisers invited Alexander to speak about vulnerabilities, threats and trends of SAP in 2013. The presentation outlined the importance of raising awareness on securing ERP Systems based on SAP. As business critical data is often stored in the SAP system, it is absolutely essential to ensure that there are no vulnerabilities. Alexander also pointed out that the exposure of SAP systems to the internet can bear serious consequences, as cybercriminals might gain access to them, using simple vulnerabilities.

To learn more about the latest threats and trends of SAP systems, watch the full interview: 


About the Author:       
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.