The Mind is a Fascinating Muscle

Wednesday, 3 October, 2012

Yes, the mind works just like A MUSCLE! I recently read that when you learn new things, you are continuing to expand connections in the brain. When you stop learning, your only option is to use what you already know. At that point, your brain begins the process of decay. There was a very interesting study done with London taxi drivers  by Katherine Woollett and  Eleanor Maguire updated last year that examined the increased grey matter to the back of the hippocampus in the brain. The hippocampus is connected with spatial awareness and memory.This change was attributed to the time spent on memorizing the 4,000 plus routes needed to get around London’s street and the minute by minute adjustments that were needed based on traffic patterns.

In order to be considered for a cabbie position, a candidate needs to know “the location of every street within six miles of Charing Cross – all 25,000 of the capital’s arteries, veins and capillaries. They also need to know the locations of 20,000 landmarks – museums, police stations, theatres, clubs, and more – and 320 routes that connect everything up. It can take two to four years to learn everything.”

To earn the right to be a cabbie they are quizzed on the best route between two locations. They cannot bring an information with them, no helpful tips, books or papers; only their mind. “They even have to narrate the details of their journey, complete with passed landmarks, road names, junctions, turns and maybe even traffic lights. Only after successfully doing this, several times over, can they earn a cab driver’s license.” stated the Discover Magazine article reviewing the research. Those applying for this position have been memorizing what has been coined as The Knowledge since 1865! While the cabbies are active in this career, their hippocampus is significantly larger than people in other jobs, and shrinks down to normal size when they retire.

So how’s this relevant to what you’re doing? If you’re in a position where the tasks are not changing much, choose to learn new information – pick a new technology or related one and keep expanding those grey cells. If you’re not currently employed, keep your mind active by learning. Pick up a new hobby, start up a new interest. Keeping your mind active and growing is crucial to those in the field of IT, where change is the only constant.

Excerpts taken from December 8th, 2011 by in Learning, Memory, Neuroscience and psychology, Discover Magazine Online.

6 Super Hot Training Topics

Tuesday, 10 May, 2011

The economy is emerging and IT is one of the business segments leading the way.   There are great jobs to be had with employers of all sizes and types.  Training is a great way to get up to speed or refreshed so that you can be positioned at the head of the pack.

Here are six red-hot areas in which you should get training:

Business Intelligence: It’s all about data.  Companies have oceans of data and they continue to fill with more.  They need information on business performance, benchmarking, sales trends, customer insights.  It is all ripe for the taking and ready to go if only people knew how to push and pull the data around until it turned into information.  There is very real money inside those databases, money companies would be pleased to obtain and happy to pay you to get it as long as you have business intelligence training.

Storage: Moving and keeping the data is of big concern now with the onset of cloud computing.  Companies are keeping more and more data in the cloud to facilitate productivity.  I/O and storage training offer opportunities as the cloud grows in popularity with IT departments.

ITIL: Managing IT for business success means a few disciplines are in order, a major one being IT service management.  ITIL is playing a larger and larger role with companies who are refocusing IT to be about business instead of infrastructure.  Those with ITIL training and certification have a lot to offer today’s IT workplace.

Project Management: In the same vein as ITIL, project management is key in delivering beneficial results.  Management skills are increasing in importance for IT workers to have as increased demand for services and introduction of cloud vendors ultimately means a lift in projects to manage.  Project management training and certification is the direction to take for those wanting to contribute positively to that sort of environment.

Networking: The handling of data has continued to be a critical segment of the IT industry and has especially seen change with cloud computing.  Managing and maintaining complex network environments is not just about performance but also about business security and integrity.  Networking training is available on introductory and advanced topics for people wanting to be in demand for this still-growing segment.

Programming: Projects are being revived or created left and right.  Many of them were mothballed while layoffs were at their worst in recent years but are seeing the light of day again.  Open positions for programmers have risen in the last six or more months and many large employers are hiring crowds of them to cover projects.  Programming and application development training is an outstanding investment for someone looking for a career in which to get established.

GogoTraining provides classroom-quality IT training courses taught by industry experts in an online, self-paced and affordable format.  For more outstanding IT and management training opportunities, check out the GogoTraining online IT course catalog.

Follow the Money by Training in Priority Areas

Wednesday, 30 March, 2011

In a recent survey regarding technology investment priorities, cloud computing hit the top.  Other highlighted areas include mobile, hardware, and business-process innovation.

Sixty-one percent of responding heads of IT focused on cloud computing which was a 10% lift from 2010.  Cloud computing continues to command increased attention from IT leadership as a catalyst for cutting costs, increasing efficiency and more.  The pursuit of the cloud is also transforming the role of key IT personnel in their organization, shifting emphasis toward resource management, business process and business intelligence and away from the more operational aspects of technology.

Mobile continues to appear on the scope of IT leaders.  Finding ways to apply the fruits of a recent explosion of mobile device innovation is the focus here.  IT departments are receiving or generating their own mandates to employ tablets and smartphones in ways that push beyond simple interaction.  In particular, the advent of tablets has inspired fresh thinking of how to empower human resources in the field of a variety of industries.  Intense effort being poured into mobile platform development for iOS, Android, webOS and Windows Phone 7 provide a strong backbone for this emerging field.

Newcomers to the IT field and experienced personnel looking to maintain their edge (and employability!) are increasingly seeking training in key fields.  Virtualization is a key aspect of cloud computing and is seeing expanded training opportunities.  Acquiring mobile development skills is another area of focus with Android programming the latest to emerge as a viable platform.

Expensive training options and “$99” courses that claim to equip one with a new skill set continue to populate the market.  GogoTraining, leading provider of IT and management training, continues to put forth effective and affordable training for the latest areas of pursuit.  VMware training and the Android Development Training Program are but two of a wide range of training opportunities that exist in the GogoTraining IT training course catalog.

Find what will benefit you the most and pursue it today!  These job markets are only beginning to open up and early adopters will – as usual – be positioned the best.

How to Spend Hundreds to Save Millions

Friday, 25 March, 2011

Most businesses do not appreciate network uptime until it is down.  Few people realize how much loss can occur when the network or servers are not operating correctly until they see entire departments of people idle and searching for something to fill their time while repairs are put into effect.

CDW took a look at the problem in a survey run last year and released recently.  In their 2010 CDW Business Continuity Straw Poll, CDW asked 7,099 IT managers about uptime and 1,794 reported they had experienced a network disruption of more than four hours since July 2009.  The survey was closed after obtaining 200 completed responses from SMB’s with over 100 employees.

Two major take-away points from the report:

  • From the 25% of the initial set that suffered significant outage and the average number of days business was closed due to such circumstances, CDW estimated these cost roughly $1.7 billion in lost profits last year.
  • 82% of the most significant outages could have been avoided by enacting measures found in any comprehensive business continuity/disaster recovery plan.

Enter ITIL, the Information Technology Infrastructure Library.  ITIL is concerned with best practices surrounding the management of information technology.  As a certification path, it starts out with the Foundations level which establishes, well, a foundation of BP understanding and an important overview of the landscape.

From there, important information technology service management (ITSM) issues are covered at the Intermediate level.  One of them is the ITIL Planning, Protection and Optimization course which covers such mission-critical subjects as capacity management, availability management, IT service continuity management, information security management and demand management.  Sound familiar?  Probably because these are the things that would have saved those 1,794 IT manager’s.

More to the point, these are the things that would have saved $1.7 billion of loss last year.  Considering the cost of obtaining ITIL certification in order to implement these management best practices, the business case is more than established.

On top of it, ITIL training doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming.  Travel and in-person expenses are easily saved through providers like GogoTraining, an APMG ITIL authorized training organization (ATO), who delivers online, self-paced ITIL v3 certification training courses.  Due to a unique business model and the savings afforded with online delivery, GogoTraining courses are among the most affordable on the market (online courses are in the low hundreds!).  For ITIL, you can get the ITIL v3 Foundation for $448 (two courses on a buy-one-get-one package) and then enough Intermediate courses to fulfill the credit requirement to sit for Intermediate certification, all for mere hundreds of dollars.  To save hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars?  There isn’t much to argue on that point. 

If your business has not considered the potential of downtime and the impact to the bottom line, a great way to start would be to obtain ITIL certification in order to put in place IT management best practices to avoid them in the first place.

3 Most-Wanted Oracle Certifications in 2011

Tuesday, 22 March, 2011

The Oracle Certification blog ran a poll to find out what certifications people “intend to pursue in 2011” and the results held a few items of interest.

The results:

  • 58% plan to pursue database certification.
  • 35% plan to pursue Java certification.
  • 29% plan to pursue PL/SQL.
  • Almost 7% intend to pursue Solaris certification.

That Oracle DBA certifications were on top is no surprise as that has always been Oracle’s big deal.  While nobody expected Solaris to rank high it does seem to be somewhat lower.  Java certification certainly looks strong and shows a good addition to Oracle’s suite of professional IT certifications.  So the top three truly most sought-after certifications are for database, Java and PL/SQL (really a subset of the DBA certification list).

Learn more about training for Oracle database certifications.  GogoTraining also offers outstanding Java training courses along with a host of other technologies in the online IT training course catalog.

The 4 Time-Tested Truths of Training

Wednesday, 16 March, 2011

Still not sure if training is right for you?  People often wonder which course to take or if it will even make a difference.  Truth be told, informing yourself and then following your instincts has often resulted in a win.  There are four truths about training that have been tested and validated by time that should put any wondering to rest.

Truth #1: Training will increase your value

There are a lot of studies available that show education of any sort will generally lift your value in the workplace.  There occasionally are some studies that show certain certifications may not be of direct financial value.  Often they are studying certifications in a technology that is being replaced or is otherwise becoming obsolete.

In general, we know that when employers see someone with certifications and education vs. someone without they will likely consider the person with education to be more credible on the knowledge front.  That gets moderated right away by the amount of hands-on experience; of two well-educated people, the one with more experience will be regarded as having more knowledge.  Many have used this to argue that education isn’t everything.  That might be true, but it misses what is a more important point.

The fact is that if you acquire education you will experience some lean years in the beginning but will emerge on the higher end of the value scale from that point forward.  Already have experience but slim on training?  Even better – training will take very little time and investment and will enhance your position very quickly.

Truth #2: You might actually learn something (gasp!)

There is so much time spent evaluating training from a financial value perspective that we easily lose perspective on the other value we obtain: knowledge.  If you think about it, if you taught yourself how to use some specific technology or platform then you may be a hands-on expert but you are likely missing a thing or two.  That last 5-10% you’re missing can often streamline your efficiency or enhance your productivity to a significant degree.  We all know that sort of performance pick-up could be the difference between a raise and even keeping your job in lean times (and that has financial value too!).

Truth #3: Training is arguably the best investment

Is it possible to lose money on education?  Sure, we’ve all met them.  People who obtained education in something they have no interest in are likely to have poor return over time.  Those who paid outrageous costs (like sitting for a $2,000 class when you can take the same class with GogoTraining for $248!) will have to spend much more time recuperating their investment (which itself is a risk by extending the amount of time required to obtain value).

Otherwise, education is arguably the strongest investment.  Why?  Unlike investing in property or gold, you cannot lose education.  As long as you are able to work, education continues to produce added income for you.  Technical education has to be taken more often as technologies and platforms rise then become obsolete, however they are taken in smaller pieces than a large, 4-year college degree.  Over time, an IT professional who consumes training consistently through the span of a career will likely spend the same or less than the cost of a full college degree – if they shop intelligently for their training and avoid overspending.

Truth #4: You may get a new, better idea

When people go to school they are introduced to new ideas. The system of obtaining a college degree is in fact designed to introduce a diverse spectrum of ideas to every student even if they enter the program knowing exactly what they want to do.

People who enter education programs very often change direction.  They encounter something new and subsequently develop a new idea on what they would like to do (or at least try).  These moments of discovery are energizing because they represent a genuine spark of curiosity and interest.  In short, they very often are the moment someone realizes something they would truly like to be involved in.  The value of that kind of realization is immeasurable.  This reason alone is worth the investment in education.

Instead of wondering whether training is right for you, spend time researching and deciding what technologies and skills you should be training for.  Spending time acquiring knowledge is time well spent, and that is universally true.

Check out GogoTraining for a great catalog of IT training courses and pick what fits you today.

Some Oracle Certification Costs to Rise in August

Tuesday, 15 March, 2011

Starting August 1, 2011, Oracle will introduce a new requirement for those seeking certification for Java Architect, Java Developer, Solaris System Administrator and Solaris Security Administrator.

Under the new qualification criteria, IT professionals will be required to attend hands-on training provided by approved, instructor-led courses.  According to the announcement on the Oracle education website, self-study courses on CD-ROM or recorded web courses do not meet the requirement.

The courses listed on the Oracle education website last from three to five days and cost roughly $2,000 to almost $4,000.  They must be taken through Oracle University Training Center, Oracle Authorized Education Center or Oracle Authorized Education Partner, Oracle Workforce Development, or Oracle Academy and approved programs.

From now through July 31, professionals can still get certified based on the current requirements.

Prime Time for IT Skill Education Based on IT Industry Activity

Monday, 14 March, 2011

Expanding activity and energy in the IT industry is indicating a good time for investing in IT skill education and certification.  Based on activity, the economic outlook in the industry and in general is much stronger than in recent years.  Early adopter of key skill sets are likely to see above-average career opportunities.

In 2010, mergers and acquisitions in the technology sector have picked up significantly over recent years which is signaling a return of confidence by technology companies.  Overall this bodes well for the economy as the disposition of the tech industry is often found to be a bellwether for the overall economy.

According to John Shea of Berkery Noyes, mergers and acquisitions indicate how people are viewing the economy 3-4 years in the future. Not only did activity rise but the prices paid were at pre-recession levels.  In 2010 there were 1,121 transactions in the software industry versus 819 in 2009.  Value of those deals was up over 100% as well.  Niche software, business software and infrastructure software saw the most activity, according to the Berkery Noyes report.

Increased M&A activity in the previous year coupled with renewed vigor in enterprise-level pursuit of significant projects such as entering Cloud Computing and enabling workforces with tablets and custom mobile apps are all indications of how investing in an information technology career – new or existing – is likely to provide positive returns over the coming years.

Interested in enhancing an existing IT skill or acquiring a new one? Check out GogoTraining’s online IT training course catalog.  From Oracle certification exam prep training to Android mobile development training program, there’s something for everyone.

Survey: Top 4 Key IT Skill Sets Needed, Say CIOs

Tuesday, 1 March, 2011

A gap exists between today’s composition of IT groups and what is needed for enterprises to maximize return on systems investments, so say CIOs in a recent survey.

CIO magazine and the MIT Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) asked 370 CIOs about the makeup and goals of their organizations.  The CIOs indicated a new “value proposition” for IT was to move beyond building and running systems and into a space that contributes more fundamental business value to the enterprise.  This represents at least a partial shift of responsibility away from other departments who are often tasked with providing the ultimate value out of systems created and maintained by the IT department.

Skills such as vendor managers, IT/business experts, data and analytics experts, and application developers top out where it comes to skill sets needed to make that value proposition a reality.

IT/Business experts are the hybrids we discussed recently, people who have depth in both and are able to tie them together in meaningful ways.  One example are IT service managers who are not necessarily technologists but manage technology for the business.  ITIL certification and project management certification are highly advisable for those in such positions and are sure to be hired first in a glut of applicants.

Application developers will have specific skills that vary depending on the chosen technology.  Particular hot spots include Java, Oracle and Android application development.  Pursuing training in any of these areas is very desirable when seeking to build a strong resume.

GogoTraining continues to create new learning opportunities that allow IT professionals of any experience level to build a foundation for reliable job security and employability.

What area could you train for that would really make your resume stand out?

New Report Shows Pay & Job Growth in Key IT Skills

Friday, 25 February, 2011

High growth in demand and compensation for non-certified IT skill sets has occurred for four straight quarters and is projected to continue, outpacing certified skills which have been experiencing comparatively anemic activity in the same timeframe, according to a new report by Foote Partners.

Factors cited as responsible for the growth include a focus on skill-based acquisition (creating more contract and consulting positions), increasingly distributed IT responsibilities in organizations, and the evolution of “hybrid IT/business professionals.”

“Technology and business skills have in effect collapsed into each other, creating legions of what our firm refers to generically as hybrid IT/business professionals.  New hybrid jobs and job titles have been created throughout the enterprise,” said David Foote, co-founder and CEO of Foote Partners. “Globalization and competitive pressures have accelerated the popularity of hybrid IT/business professionals and in turn energized market demand and interest in paying cash premiums for hundreds of certified and non-certified IT skills.”

Foote said the economic recession had a hand to play in the skill-based approach and rise in hybrid positions yet the story of evolving the IT workforce started earlier. “The truth is that IT and business leaders have been struggling with transforming the IT workforce for years, trying to make it more agile, flexible, nimble, whatever you want to call it, said Foote. “What the recession did was help leaders get ‘unstuck.’  More focused and motivated.  The pressure to get on the other side of this transition is enormous.”  Foote mentions the “end game” is to find a way to “react quicker, execute faster and more predictably.”

Of the certifications showing continued growth in worth, VMware is at the top showing an average compensation premium of 8.5%.  As virtualization and other areas tied to Cloud Computing grow, relevant certifications will continue to rise in value commensurately.  Other certifications seeing rise in value include those from Red Hat and Oracle.

Non-certified skills which saw a sustained lift for four consecutive quarters include database, application development tools, SAP/ERP, Web/e-commerce and methodology and process management.

GogoTraining provides outstanding quality technology and management training at an affordable price.  IT and technical management professionals of all stages in experience and academic background are encouraged to meet the needs of today’s job market, ensure longevity and increase your chances for above-average compensation by identifying a training path and getting started with GogoTraining today.