Sunday 22 July 2012

Corporate Training Should Be Part of Any Long-term Business Strategy

Corporate training and IT training can help businesses markedly reduce costs in the long-haul and set aside funds to be invested in continuous improvement of staff professional qualifications thus boosting overall competitiveness of an enterprise. Evidently, most employers expect their employees to be familiar with business software suites that include word processing applications, spreadsheets software, and solutions to design presentations. Modern business software, however, include software systems that vary from content management systems (CMS) to customer relationship management (CRM) applications to complex enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, while these software solutions require extensive training to familiarize with the overall concept of the respective software and get best results.

Implementation of an ERP system can take months, even years, to complete and there is no reason to believe that even the most devoted employee will be able to familiarize with such a complex software application only by experimenting with various built-in functions. Corporate training is integral part of best industry practices when the matter in hand is implementation and adoption of new business software, while ongoing IT courses are a good method to keep employees in touch with newest technologies in a particular field of business. There is a good reason for such a continuous IT training, with the main driver being the ever changing business environment where enterprises increasingly rely on software solutions to take competitive advantage over their rivals. Modern-day businesses rely heavily on cutting-edge technologies, of which many are real-time or close to real-time technologies, and the lack of expertise in this field can have bad consequences for the business as a whole.

Usually, companies socializing in the field of software development and implementation of business software systems, also provide training courses that can be performed both on the premises of the customer or in a specialized facility as part of the software adoption process. Nevertheless, businesses can make a step further and invest in continuous education of their employees, achieving a higher level of faultless operation and enhancing overall business performance and productivity, which in turn results in better overall financial results. Furthermore, IT training can be performed in a manner to incorporate the overall corporate virtues, thus evolving into a broader corporate training whose aim is boost loyalty, strengthen inter-departmental and personal relationships across the entire organization, and, in the end, create a better work environment.

Self-confidence matters and it is counterproductive not to invest in training of employees who have difficulties dealing with a software system. Modern-day business software can be a thorn in the ass even for an experienced software developer, so the average employee should undergo proper corporate training before one would expect him or her to produce acceptable results and perform according to established corporate standards. An untrained employee lacks self-confidence and in turn the entire organization would suffer.

Advocates and critics of ongoing corporate training differ mainly on topics like what should corporate training cover, agreeing that corporate training is a best industry practice per se. That said organizations that have adopted corporate training and ongoing IT courses as a best practice are considered generally more competitive and prepared to meet the requirements imposed by an increasingly technology-bound business environment. Of course, investing in such programs should be financially justified but it is worth taking a look at reports revealing that a better educated employee is generally happier, more productive and less prone to look for a job elsewhere.

Various training programs can be used to increase employees’ motivation, which is an important factor to consider when assessing whether an organization is set to succeed or fail in the long-run. Love it or hate it but corporate training should be a major element of a successful business development strategy.

Monday 16 July 2012

Mobile Challenges that Web Portal Development Is Facing

The general concept of how a web portal should look like and what it would incorporate evolved markedly within lees than a couple of decades, with web portal development now including approaches previously considered integral part of application development only. Those involved in development of web portals have also deal with a very different concept of how things work in an online environment and how software applications and hardware devices interact, thus re-shaping the entire concept of web portal development.

A good number of popular public web portals have disappeared in the course of only a decade, while new players have set foot in the market, introducing new approaches and vision that seem to work, for now. At stake is a huge market niche worth billions of dollars in annual revenues, generated mainly through ads and commissions on mercantile deals. Thus, web portal development is more about design and implementation of successful business ideas rather than simple aggregation of content from numerous diverse sources. Obviously, content aggregation will never lose its primary role in the context of web portals; nevertheless, entrepreneurs and software developers alike are increasingly looking for lightening business ideas rather than methods to implement the idea in practice.

On the other hand, web portal development has never been so a challenging task in the light of new technologies emerging on a daily basis, as well as a booming market for mobile devices. In the space of a few years, web portal developers have been forced to enter into the uncharted waters of software solutions running on a wide range of mobile devices, all of them capable of connecting to the Internet. Thus, the market for web portals suddenly expanded to cover billions of mobile users, with increasing number of these users browsing the Internet mainly on their mobile devices that may include smartphones, tablets, netbooks or any mobile devices that is Internet-enabled.

Consequently, web portal developers and web portal owners re-focused their efforts to enhance a wide variety of services provided by web portals to run smoothly on mobile devices, which in turn operate on different operating systems and use different web browsers. Reliability is a key success factor in the online world, and since web portals are intended to provide services to large audiences, web portal development must cope with the challenges of maintaining the faultless operation of web portals that deal with vast volumes of data on mobile devices and in real-time environment.

For example, a good number of web portals include tender modules, where individuals and corporations can post offers and strike deals. Design and implementation of underlying algorithms for such a software module can be a challenge itself, but the real challenge lies with the implementation of such a module to support various operating systems running on different hardware, including mobile gadgets, while interacting with all other modules that make a reliable web portal.

Other mobile factors that influence web portal development are related to the general design of a web portal that is intended to be accessed through a mobile device. Display resolution and display size, availability of touch screen functionality, colors scheme, and available memory all are essential factors that a web portal developer should have in mind in the process of developing reliable software to run on mobile devices. Evidently, design and functionality are inter-dependent, but in the context of mobile devices design and interface issues can cast shadow over an otherwise full-functional software application.

It is still unclear in what direction mobile device evolution will head, but it is quite evident that hundreds of millions of people around the globe now use mobile hardware to access online services, including various web portals. As far as the general concept of web portals is well-defined, or at least is defined to a reasonable extent, web portal development is destined to focus on mobile devices in the foreseeable future.

Monday 9 July 2012

Where in the World Leading IT Software Consulting Firms Reside?

Traditionally, Silicon Valley is considered the place where everything newsworthy in the world of information technologies, subsequently in the field of IT software consulting, happens. Myths aside, California is still the area where numerous leading technology firms are headquartered but, like it or not, an evident trend is that an increasing number of world-leading software consultancies are located not only outside California, but outside the United States and Europe, thus re-shaping the world software industry map.

In the course of only couple of decades, Asia/Pacific region emerged as an alternative hub for software research and development, giving birth to numerous reputable companies involved in software design and development, software implementation, and IT consulting. India is the leader of the pack in the region, thanks to years of smart investment in knowledge-based economy and development of locally-grown hardware and software experts who, despite the brain drain, are well equipped to provide reliable software consultancy service to both mid-sized businesses and leading world multinationals.

In fact, North America is no longer a world leader in the sphere of IT consulting, following several decades of massive software development outsourcing to countries like India and the Philippines, as well as regions like Eastern Europe and, to a lesser extent, Latin America. This massive and lasting wave of software development off shoring helped create several generations of well-prepared software experts at every level in those countries, professionals who are able to produce results and give valuable advice even to world-leading software vendors. For example, India's metropolitan areas like New Delhi are topping the list of the world's best places to outsource software development and research, as well as to take advantage of affordable yet world-class software consulting services.

Evidently, other world regions like Central and Eastern Europe also offer less expensive skilled labor force in the sphere of information technology; nevertheless, India cannot be beaten when the matter in question is to get competitive pricing on high quality software consulting. The only indicator that casts shadow on India's reputation as the new world center of reliable IT and software consulting services is the relatively low number of hardware and software specialists holding master's degrees, although a recent trend shows that Indian students who have graduated abroad return home more often than a few years ago, thanks to better overall work conditions and career growth opportunities provided by local IT companies and IT consultancies. Thus, the country is now experiencing an inflow of foreign educated specialists that are able to boost further India's positions as the newly emerged leader in the field of outsourced software research and development.

Local software experts, gaining valuable knowledge through taking part in projects led by world-leading software vendors, now have the expertise to provide consultancy services that previously have been available only through Western software consultants. In addition, India-based consultancies are able to offer price to quality ratio that is practically unachievable to their US- and Europe-based counterparts, due to significantly lower payroll costs coupled with access to cutting edge technologies and advanced infrastructure.

Some authors in the United States and Europe claim that their respective governments should take Draconian measures to prevent local businesses from outsourcing software development and IT consulting to countries like India, in order to encourage local growth and help create jobs. Obviously, it is a highly politicized issue and common sense hints that businesses will always seek to minimize expenditures, including through outsourcing activities like IT software consulting to third-parties that are better prepared to complete the job with acceptable quality and are able to offer a price that is lower than the one to perform the task in-house. That said, unbiased observers tend to agree that the world center of IT software consulting moved eastwards for good reasons, and there are no signs this will change in the years to come.

Monday 2 July 2012

Why IT Software Consulting is Flourishing?

By any account, IT software consulting is a flourishing business even in times when other industries are shrinking and many sectors are losing jobs. What are the drivers behind such a continuous growth in hard times for the global economy?

First, a growing number of enterprises worldwide need to focus of their core business and cannot afford to maintain on their payroll IT consultants who are usually amongst the most highly paid experts. In time when corporations are obsessed with cost savings and cost reduction, only large multinationals can afford to retain expensive IT consultants as full-time employers, while a growing number of mid-sized and small-sized businesses prefer to hire third party IT and software consultants should a need arise.

Even small family businesses are actually forced to rely on external IT software consulting for good reasons; reputable technology blogs can offer valuable free advice but one would need expert assistance when solving issues that occur during implementation and use of business software. Thus, IT and software consultants can rely on a broad, and growing, customer base worldwide, fuelled by the rising adoption rates of various business software.

On the other hand, the growing demand for IT and software consulting services has resulted in the emergence of myriads of IT consultants, independent and corporate, who offer on-premise or online consultancy services. This in turn has made the IT consulting services more affordable to both large and small-scale businesses.

The process of corporate restructuring and organizational optimization that is taking place globally aims to improve corporations’ efficiency also through access to knowledge and intellectual property provided by IT and software consultants. Hiring third party consultants or outsourcing an entire service to external consultants is no more considered an extravagant, and to some extent unsecure step but is regarded as a necessary move in the wider context of transition to a knowledge-based economy where intellectual property plays an important competitive role. Thus, the World Wide Web is now flooded with technology blogs offering advice how to cope with the challenges of ever-developing information technology, while IT consultants enjoy steady growth of their business.

Obviously, the shift to more technology oriented business practices can be a painful process, while many common mistakes can be avoided through hiring a reputable IT consultant. One would find useful readings regarding the adoption, configuration, and support of particular software on the Internet but only a reputable IT consultant can provide the required expertise to perform the software implementation in the best possible fashion, for example. Therefore, the demand for IT consultancy services is growing while the service price is going down on average.

Today’s risk management practices often require the use of IT consultancy services as well. As a rule, an IT or software consultant is better prepared to manage and successfully complete a procedure of business software implementation or upgrade to a more advanced solution. One should also bear in mind that the specific knowledge on the best practices regarding the implementation, support, and upgrade of business software is among the well-kept industry secrets and rarely an IT consultant is going to make it public and available online.

The expanding sector of IT and software consulting now provides more than consulting services, with IT consultants offering outsourcing, restructuring and optimization services, as well as services in the field of software development previously provided by software vendors only. The evolution of the IT consultancy can result in the emergence of brand new products and services based on cutting-edge technologies, while other IT consultants would prefer to stick to traditional software implementation and optimization services. In both scenarios, IT software consulting is going to play a crucial role in the knowledge-based economies that create more wealth.