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Welcome to the iTechtions Blog!

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Hello and welcome to the iTechtions blog!

iTechtions is an independent software development and IT services consultancy based in Canada. Our goal is to help our enterprise clients achieve their business objectives and maximize their return on IT investments by working in partnership and providing an industry-leading range of consulting and professional services tailored to individual needs and budgets.

We created this blog in order to share with you information about our company, our services and partnership with TIBCO and our employees. We will also be discussing current and relevant news and events related to technology, information technology and software development.  Our overall goal is to spark conversation and encourage discussion with the online community.  We would love to hear your feedback and welcome discussion on all of our blog posts, as well as on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+.

For simple navigation, please refer to our “Categories” listed on the sidebar to your right.

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AI- The Road to Superintelligence

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The term “human intelligence” consists of our ability to learn, reason, problem solve, perceive and understand language. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is something that aims at human level intelligence, with machines gradually taking over and becoming an essential part of our daily lives. One of our primary sources of entertainment these days is Netflix, which provides us accurate predictive suggestions about what we like to watch, mainly by tracking our reactions to previous films or TV shows. When it comes to finding our favourite songs, asking for directions, or updating our calendars, we tend to rely on Apple’s personal assistant, Siri. Then there’s Tesla, one of the best cars ever made. It’s human like features, such as self-driving, and predictive capabilities is slowly diminishing our ability to drive without help. The list goes on, and so does our need for another hand.

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Apple, Deepmind, Amazon, Google and Facebook are just a few companies leading the Artificial Intelligence Revolution. We are all familiar with the fact that Google is the largest search engine in the world, Amazon’s AI services bring natural language understanding and of course, as mentioned earlier, Apple’s Siri. These technologies are able to provide digital assistance, decrease repetitive jobs, reduce error and work consistently. One thing we are less aware of, however, is the fact that AI is becoming popular in medicine. This is seen with the IBM Watson, which is a “customized computer designed to deliver a single, precise answer to a question posed in natural language.”   Recently, it has been used for rapid diagnosis of rare leukemia. Writer mentions that so far, hospitals in Japan have used this computer system for about 100 patients with hamartiological diseases and Watson has helped find causes of illnesses for 70 to 80 of them (Writer, 2016).

Our top worry is that superintelligence is just years away, however it is said to be at least decades away (Tegmark, 2017). But is it really? Chinese researcher, Han Wang, thinks otherwise. His introduction of the idea of Artificial Synapse, could lead to smarter AI. Synapses serves as a gateway for our neurons to transmit signals, whether it’s inhibitory, which makes the brain more calm or whether it’s excitatory, which makes our brain more alert. Just as the human brain, Wang mentions that AI allows similar functions, enabling synapses to process digital information (Science, 2017). The mere idea of machines replacing humans is exciting, however, the thought of robots handling customer inquiries wouldn’t be too great. Unemployment will be booming up and machines will always lack a certain human touch, specifically emotion. We, as humans, can care and understand one another, something machines will never achieve. This also suggest a lack of innovation and creativity. Therefore, the statement that “AI will never be able to control humans” is a myth, because humans will always be smarter, however if we give up the position of being the smartest, then we will probably give up control as well.  Just as Tegmark says, intelligence aims control (Tegmark, 2017).

 

TIBCO: Universal Connectivity

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A way to make everything work together.

“Connect every element of your business, on and off the cloud.” 

An average day can feel like a constant process of opening up one application, closing it, and opening up the next. Soon enough, you’re storing pockets of data in different places and keeping a master index of where everything lives. TIBCO is here to change that. Their connectors will transform your business from a complicated web, into an easy to manage ecosystem. Regardless of what your unique business needs are, TIBCO can help you.

Toolkit for Everyone 

Whether you just want an out-of- the-box solution, an API modeling tool or an industry-standard protocol, TIBCO has the perfect connector for you. Facebook, Amazon, Salesforce, SAP— got those covered, too. TIBCO’s helpful sales staff will learn about your unique business and make sure you walk away with the perfect set of connectors for your needs.

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Effortless Integration

When TIBCO creates their products, they’re always looking for ways to make putting them to work as easy as possible. TIBCO’s main goal is to save your IT team headaches and to save you time and money. That’s why all of their connectors require zero code to implement. With TIBCO Connectors, you get one standardized drag and drop interface for all of your on-premises applications and cloud services in one place, and, adding in new connectors is as simple as downloading an app from the app store.

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Connections Go Deep

TIBCO doesn’t just build surface connections that make two services talk to one another. TIBCO creates deep integrations that let you share data and application-specific features between any suite of services. They’re there to make your whole ecosystem work in harmony.

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Fluent in the Services You Use

These are just a few of TIBCO’s dozens of connectors and adapters:

  • Salesforce
  • Facebook
  • SAP CRM
  • Amazon RDS
  • Oracle E-Business Suite
  • NetSuite

Capabilities

1A Prospect Leaves Gives You Info

We help Marketo connect to third-party sources to gain even more information, and then send the enriched data to Salesforce where a lead is generated.

 

2Someone Tweets About Your Product

Our Twitter connector spots it, and uses their profile information to find a match in Salesforce. Then, we add that information to the lead and alert you to take action.

3There’s a Delay in Your Supply Chain

Don’t worry! Not only can we use Hadoop to identify factors that cause delays before they cause trouble, we’ll update relevant opportunities in Salesforce so you can let customers know as soon as possible.

4We’re There When You Seal the Deal

The order is automatically created in SAP, which in turn generates an order number that is automatically sent back to Salesforce. All you need to do is celebrate.

5Setting Up Your Next Steps

Once an opportunity is won, we help Salesforce automatically create an account in ServiceNow so all the tools you need going forward are at your fingertips.

6A Better Process from Start to Finish

TIBCO Connectors lets your sales team manage each step, from lead generation to product support, right in Salesforce. They’ll have a clearer view of their customers, and customers will have a better experience overall.

 

 

 

 

References:
http://www.tibco.com/solutions/universal-connectivity

 

TIBCO’s API Mashery

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TIBCO’s API Mashery has made it feasible for companies to provide excellent customer service as well as create, analyze and manage APIs in a secure and scalable environment. Fortunately, expertise at iTechtions educate clients on how to use API Mashery, helping clients capture the right information at the right times through interconnection with its current integration platform.

TIBCO API Mashery is able to:

  • Help its clients deliver high productivity and actively monitor the API lifecycle, which incorporates activities such as cloud data, creating API’s, choreography, transformation, managing partners, managing
  • Traffic, productize APIs and, analytics
  • Make sure the needs of developers and applications using the API are being met and handled effectively
  • Automate and control connections between an API and the applicants who use it
  • Provide a codeless developer environment, as well as B2B partnerships, developer engagement, Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile access

The several advantages of API have allowed more than 175 companies, a few being Dubber Pty Ltd, Citibank, Coca-Cola, Sabre and USA TODAY, to have great experiences. Dubber Pty mentions how API Mashery “has been on
e of the smoother integrations/ implementations they’ve been involved in over the last 20+ years” and how it has been “a great achievement for both Mashery and Dubber teams.” Other success stories involve exceptional customer service, such as customers in a Best-Buy store being able to use the barcode of any product and find out on the spot if they have adequate Citi-Reward points from Citibank.  Redundancy, internal innovation, and long-term viability can be achieved with API, and expertise at iTechtions can educate your company about this database and enable you to explore any number of emerging channels.

 

 

The top 3 Ingredients used to Retain Tech Talent

We`re living the in 21st century, a time where IT professionals are in high demand by employers and that’s the recipe for an increasingly competitive market. We’re living in a time where five generations of employees are sharing office space, but employers are still in need to start humanizing their workplace, and that can be achieved with the help of the tech-savvy millennials today.  So how do we retain this tech talent?

Simple: Build a supportive work environment, help employees excel in their careers and finally, provide a competitive compensation package.

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Millennials are hard to satisfy, especially with a boring work environment that doesn’t fulfill their needs. As Forbes mentions, that`s where the innovation or the “Go big and innovative“ come into play. This is a generation that likes working from home, spending time with family and showing off their competitive skills within the workforce.  This is the point where millennials prefer working in an innovative work-space, mainly developing a culture that respects the employees’ life and family. Employers should be offering their employees job security, through the provision of flexible work schedules and work-from-home options. Not only are they in need of a supportive work environment, employers need to go back to basics. Work place should be optimistic and far from toxic, which can be achieved through employee motivation and minimizing conflict when dealing with team dynamics.

Providing an opportunity for career growth:

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Candidates are looking to grow in their careers, which emphasizes the idea that employers should start realizing that promotion isn’t the only way to retain tech talent within the workforce.  One of the main things these tech-savvy millennials want in a job is career growth opportunities. Employers can make this feasible through the provision of performance reviews, job shadowing as well as providing encouragement and support. Performance reviews can help employees gain some feedback, perfecting what they’re doing right and minimizing the incorrect approach. With that being said, job shadowing can enable employees to observe and gain perspective when completing tasks. Finally, encouragement and support will cause employees to perform with the best of their ability as well as increase motivation within the workforce.

Providing a competitive compensation package:

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Of course, most people aren’t motivated solely by money. However, it is still important for an employer to realize that a competitive pay is crucial for employee skill and knowledge. Employers can always step it up by incorporating performance and project based bonuses within their budget. This can help enable reward and recognize tech talent within the workforce.

Bibliography: 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/meghanbiro/2016/01/17/4-tips-for-finding-and-retaining-tech-talent/#4c5154c43425

http://cybsearch.com/why-retaining-top-tech-talent-is-more-important-than-hiring-them/

http://www.cio.com/article/2386250/careers-staffing/8-tips-for-retaining-top-it-talent.html

http://globalnews.ca/news/3349180/millennials-in-the-workplace-why-theyre-not-entirely-to-blame-for-everything/

Images: 

http://bit.ly/2oLoaSk

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http://bit.ly/2pBtbyd

 

10 Skills to Look For When Hiring Tech Talent (Hard & Soft Skills)

Searching to find the best candidate can sometimes be a difficult and tedious process. There are many aspects to consider, and ultimately, you just want to hire an individual who can adapt well and fit into your company culture. Any employer wants to find individuals who not only have the necessary hard skills for the job, but at the same time embody the soft skills which are just as important to have.

Listed below are the top 10 Skills to look for when hiring tech talent. 5 of which are Hard Skills, followed by the other 5 Soft Skills.

Hard Skills

  1. Database Administration

The challenges and opportunities of big data are making database administration more crucial than ever. Interest in big data have significantly increased throughout the years, since through it, companies can learn more about their customers. Every company should want to be aware of all that is stored in their internal systems and ultimately collect data from sources. These sources can be from but not limited to the Web, social media sites and third parties. Hence, it is advisable to focus on individuals that are able to construct a logical data map of the company’s systems and collect relevant data, and then report to their management team.

  1. Help Desk and Technical Support

There needs to be technical professionals that are able to aid and support non-technical users. Especially when gaining more clients, there will be subsequently more demands, so it is vital to adhere to their needs. A candidate who Blog Image 3is able to communicate clearly and efficiently with customers is tech talent you need to look for. A big role of this skill is to ensure that no clients are left without answers or explanations if they have any questions or concerns with the products or services provided by your company.

  1. Mobile Application Development

In today’s time, mobile devices have become a massive part of the consumer and corporate worlds.  Giving portability to technology is not just an opportunity, but it is imperative to keep up with current trends. The development of mobile applications continues to be a huge advantage in many business companies. A candidate that possess this skill is beneficial to your company with their ability to create mobile applications that can enhance and help boost your company’s status.

  1. Programming and Application Development

Tech talents with software-developingBlog Image 5 skills are extremely fundamental to any company. Software developers and programmers are deemed to be a difficult position to fill. This is why you want to look for candidates who are capable of delivering customized solutions, which is an asset to have in your organization. In recent studies, there aren’t many students who are pursuing information technology. Utilizing a recruitment agency or having a strong recruiter in your company can help to fill this position efficiently.

  1. Networking

Creating effective links between systems is a fundamental skill for today’s IT professionals. Networking is about making connections and building enduring, mutually beneficial relationships. Thus, look for candidates who have experience and the enthusiasm to partake in networking. From using social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter, to attending conferences that can advertise your company’s brand to its full potential.

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Soft Skills

  1. Adaptability

Organizations in the IT industry are constant changing, growing and evolving in order to keep up with changing market demands. This is why talent that’s adaptable is a valuable asset to your company. “If you’re not finding the right people who have learning agility, who can listen to feedback and evolve, you’re not going to do well as a company. You are looking for someone with a ‘change orientation,’ who can obviously take on new skills and challenges and thrive”, says Jennifer Shappley, Senior Director of Talent Acquisition.

  1. Potential for Growth

It is important to recognize that many IT companies and start-ups are rapidly growing, which means that it is essential to look for talent that will not only fill today’s roles, but advance and develop with the company. “Can they grow with us? Are they able to take on different roles and succeed?” are questions to consider when looking for talent.

  1. Culture Fit

Although there isn’t a definite definition, cuBlog Image 2lture fit continues to be an important aspect to look into about a candidate. Ask questions like “Do candidates share your values? Do they have a variety of skills they’d need to succeed?” (Shappley, May 2016). Applicants who have similar values as your company are the ones you want to hire.

  1. Leadership

Even though this is a broad term, searching for a candidate who is an independent thinker, has a strong voice and a willingness to speak up are necessary to consider. At the same time, you want to look for candidates who are engaged in their company and community, those who are willing to give back without hesitation.

  1. Collaboration

Another key skill to consider is the ability to collaborate with others from different aspects of the company. Candidates who have worked in a matrixed environment, where they have experience working with teams cross-functionally is proven that they will be successful.  This shows that they are flexible, work well with others and are able to communicate effectively with multiple people.

Sources:
http://www.itnews.com/article/3184920/hiring/6-soft-skills-employers-should-be-looking-for-in-tech-talent.html?platform=hootsuite
http://culturefit.com/chicago-top-skills-tech-talent/
http://info.spearheadstaffing.com/blog/bid/379534/Top-5-Skills-to-Look-for-When-Hiring-Tech-Talent-in-The-Financial-Industry
http://www.infoworld.com/article/3166032/it-careers/the-value-of-soft-skills-in-a-high-tech-world.html
https://thenextweb.com/entrepreneur/2014/11/22/every-company-know-hiring-tech-talent/#.tnw_J7YLbc2h
http://startupheretoronto.com/partners/techvibes/tech-leaders-fed-up-with-talent-shortage-in-canada/
https://www.collegesearch.in/information-technology-in-india

Move over Humans, Software is taking over What You Can Do; Quicker and Beyond Human Capabilities

“Software is eating the world.” This quote is by Marc Andreessen, a Silicon Valley investor who made this statement back in 2011. In retrospect, it was controversial but not opposed.

Five years later, software is everywhere. It powers the current rising trend of robots, drones and artificial intelligence (AI). Your future surgeon, journalist, composer, soldier, translator may not be a person you know — but a thing.

Let’s have a look some unconventional and beneficial things robots, drones and AI can do better than you can today.

What Jobs Robots Can Do better than Humans

 Photo of the Bionic Bar from the Royal Caribbean: Quantum of the Seas.

1. Bartender

Already, robots today can be a bartender and mix you a perfect cocktail. At the Royal Caribbean cruise ship of the future, this bartender knows 300 cocktails and complete them promptly. If you’re not sure what you feel like having, you can even pick a theme where it will give you about 20 to 25 suggestions to choose from.

2. Pharmacist

Humans can make various errors when dispensing medication: not providing the correct dosage, drugs that look identical, a mix up of people with the same name, and the dreaded doctor’s illegible handwriting. Here at the University of California, a robot packages and dispenses them through reading prescriptions by computer. It was reported that no errors were made in the 350,000 doses in the first phase-in. Additionally, the robot can identify if medications a person is taking won’t interact with each other.

3. Journalist

In the near future, especially with stories with tons of number analysis, robots can write short stories and search for statistics in industries like sports or market reports. For example, a program by Narrative Science writes short sports recaps. However, robots aren’t creative, so there’s still an open job prospect there.

Alright, enough with the robots, what about drones? How can this little flying thing change the world?

What Drones can do better than Humans

Photo: Drone devliering medical supplies to Rural Virginia Clinic

1. Save lives
Drones can transport medicine, supplies, medical equipment to the site of an accident within a minute! Compared to an ambulance driving to the site, that fraction is really the factor of life-and-death.

2. Handle with Nuclear Waste
Engineers are in process of developing drones that can help transport hazardous nuclear materials for disposal. That way humans won’t be exposed to the dangers. To add,  drones can be developed by protection of the environment and natural habitats, early detection of forest fires, monitoring of pollution levels and humanitarian aid in search and rescue scenarios.

3. Construct Tall Buildings
Drones are already being used by the construction industry for aerial mapping, which is taking a photo at an elevated bird’s eye view. Drones can detect structural problems without risking the lives of humans by climbing into the high-rise structures.

What AI can do
AI superstar Watson is a bunch of processors the size of three pizza boxes that devours and computes data at warp speed.
Photo: IBM’s Watson, the AI supermachine

1. Work in Environments Humans cannot Survive

Areas like deep space, the bottom of the ocean sea, or inside a radioactive reactor, these are places humans physically cannot survive. Today, there are sophisticated robots who can match the dexterity and speed of humans thanks to a UC Berkley team whom used deep learning to teach robots fine motor skills, such as screw caps on bottles, or use the back of a hammer to remove a nail from wood.

2. Translate
Language barriers can be broken today as there are many resources out there.
Google Translate app can immediately translate text in 27 languages. Skype is using neural network technology which attempts to copy the human brain in order to understand human speech and instantly translate from English to Spanish. Microsoft, the owner of Skype, is attempting to expand it to all languages.

3. Deliver the Correct Medical Diagnosis

IBM “Watson”, the AI superstar, was the winner in 2011 against Jeopardy! human champions. Ongoing forward, one of the things this AI has done is focus on oncology and the diagnosis of cancers. In making a diagnosis, Watson’s accuracy in detecting lung cancer was 90%. Human physicians accuracy rate was 50%.

Afterthoughts:
It appears the pace of software development is not stopping or slowing down. The reality is that there still is an huge gap between what many people do and what robots, drones and AI can replace. Where do we draw the line? Is this a concern? Or are we just making our human lives better for the future?

Sources:
‘Software is eating the world’: How robots, drones and artificial intelligence will change everything
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/9-jobs-robots-already-do-better-than-you-2014-01-27
http://www.theverge.com/2014/11/21/7256437/i-spent-a-weekend-on-the-high-tech-cruise-ship-of-tomorrow
http://www.mtv.com/news/2219507/good-things-about-drones
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2623542/Could-drones-save-nuclear-waste-Unmanned-aircraft-fly-toxic-materials-safe-locations.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-zarkadakis/5-things-ai-can-do-better_b_8906570.html
http://www.wsj.com/articles/drone-delivers-medicine-to-rural-virginia-clinic-1437155114

Internet of Things: the Dangerous Revolution?

Internet of Things: the Dangerous Revolution?

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been dubbed many names: Internet of Systems, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, Industry 4.0; despite the multiple names, there are universal concerns.

1. Security

Security is one of the biggest key issues when it comes it IoT.  There is a greater potential to hack more systems. Products need to find a way to stay updated. They should be changed frequently or be strong. Otherwise, these are some of things that had happened:

  • “Smart” traffic lights were hacked; driving could be a nightmare
  • Hackers at the Black Hat security conference compromised a Nest thermostat in front of a live audience:  the thermostat transformed into spy that can learn routines of the inhabitants of a certain home or office
  • Bugging and hacking an entire home: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-27373328
  • Car electronics taken over remotely: The electronics within a car can be hacked, taking control of the headlights, locks, steering and even the brakes.
  • IoT botnet – thingbot: An IoT botnet (or thingbot) is a group of hacked computers, smart appliances and Internet-connected devices that have been co-opted for illicit purposes

2. Privacy

Privacy, although similar, is not the same as security. There is a high risk for identity theft, going after financial information, obtaining information from corporations or governments. And guess what — the Big Money in IoT is in Big Data. This is dangerous because these sensors are learning everything about you. Your routine, habits…the more they know about you and how you behave, the easier of a target you’ll be.

3. Device Interaction

Things will be full of bugs, constantly requiring updates, newer versions will come out. Also, how do we know how to track and monitor things? Measure and optimize performance? How will the devices communicate with each other? Are smartphones the constant link to the devices? How do we deal with malicious attacks? There’s a lot of questions and issues to address

Protection: Fight Back!

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Despite these concerns, IoT is a growing investment being made. We can only well equip ourselves. What can we do?

1. Strengthen your networks:

Ensure that only authorized devices and people can get access; consent and knowledge is always the first line of defense against attackers

2. Stay up to date

Make sure your software is up to date: security updates, but also staying on top of potential issues your devices might have

3. Know what you are putting in or on your body

WiFi pacemakers can’t hurt you if you’re not using it. Smart contacts might be a thing of the future but what happens if it goes wrong? You’ll only be hurt if you allow them to and consent should be given by you. For example. if you will be getting something new implanted on yourself, get all the details on what device is capable of. Read the fine print or seek professional opinion if necessary

The Internet of Things still has a bright future. It may always be vulnerable and unsafe, but we can do our best to prepare ourselves, as a producers and consumers of the new world that is coming.

Sources: http://anandmanisankar.com/posts/IoT-internet-of-things-good-bad-ugly/

http://www.networkworld.com/article/3026315/internet-of-things/6-critical-issues-facing-the-internet-of-things.html

http://www.slashgear.com/the-internet-of-things-will-always-be-vulnerable-12451599/