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Is Information Sharing Key to Security Success?

In May this year the Wassenaar Arrangement got its first proper airing, introducing new export regulations with the intention of extending restrictions on export and sale of intrusion software and software vulnerabilities. The changes could affect a very broad number of businesses, from those that are offering penetration-testing packages through to those producing software that scans for vulnerabilities. The wide-ranging nature of the extension has been very publicly criticised by Google, which has stated that it believes it to be "dangerous broad and vague" and, in basic terms, simply just not practically feasible. Tens of thousands of export licences Of course, Google has phrased its objections in a fairly broad context, drawing attention to the "significant negative impact" the regulations would be likely to have on the open security research community. But Google's objections are not just in the interests of the community in general but with respect to its own administrative burden too - the new regulations would put Google in the position of having to request perhaps tens of thousands of export licences, something that would be hugely costly and take up significant resources. Difficulties with vulnerability disclosure The search engine giant also makes the point that the consequent demands of the new regulations could introduce huge delays with respect to bug vulnerability disclosure processes and the like and states that "you should never need a license when you report a bug to get it fixed." Google's solution is "standing license exceptions for everyone when controlled information is reported back to manufacturers for the purposes of fixing a vulnerability" as this would protect those researching and reporting vulnerabilities, exploits, or other controlled information. Google's argument is that the Wassenaar Arrangement could otherwise result in vulnerability disclosure becoming too difficult so that those who are discovering issues look to less above board sources to generate a return for what they've discovered. Information sharing Information sharing is another much more credible alternative as far as Google is concerned. It believes that multi-nationals should be able to engage in multi national information sharing on intrusion software, without the need to obtain a licence for it as is proposed. We all know that, in theory, licensing seems a logical way to structure and control the vulnerability market but there needs to be a balance between disclosure, internal company policies and realistic expectations in order for any changes to work. Most of all, Google has insisted that clarity is the most important element - or we could just end up with one big, costly, global mess.

24 August 2015

What is the future of SDN?

Software Defined Networking (SDN) is still a relatively emerging architecture that allows network administrators to manage network services through abstraction of lower-level functionality. This abstraction is ideal for efficiently developing new applications, making SDN a great tool for delivering innovative services in a more timely way. SDN also centralises the intelligence of a network system and this makes network utilisation more flexible and, as complexity is hidden from operators, SDN is also easy to operate and maintain. It was perhaps with Google's step onto the SDN bandwagon in 2011 that this technology started to really become a telecom technology trend, rather than an obscure academic idea. Google's intervention illustrated how SDN is able to go beyond its data centre origins and introduce WAN cost and efficiency benefits and this triggered a hive of activity around using SDN. Companies such as Verizon Communications, AT&T, NTT Communications Corp and Telstra Corp have all announced the incorporation of SDN in some way, shape or form over the past two years. With this stage has come the really hard questions that need to be answered if SDN is to progress from being simply a technology trend to architecture that can be properly implemented, integrated and commercialised. As a result of the stage that SDN has reached, it's still hard to determine exactly what the future will be and drawing concrete conclusions is almost impossible. However, there are a number of issues that will affect what happens to the future of SDN that are worth taking a look at in order to get some idea of its potential longevity. Security Cyber security is a frontline issue for just about everyone right now but the security of SDN and NFV networks has not really had a lot of airtime. Given the way that SDN is developing, however, this is likely to become one of the main issues in the very near future. Real life examples For some time it hasn't really been clear what might be possible with SDN, both economically and technically, but there are now some compelling real world examples, with a significant concentration around WAN automation in general. Overcoming IP and optical integration IP and optical layers can be logically integrated through software control and management using SDN, providing a new option for this architecture. SDN overcomes multi-vendor interoperability, which has always been the missing link when it comes to uniting these different layers.

13 August 2015

How Will 5G Change the Telecoms Industry?

As most of us continue to get to grips with our new 4G gadgets, without even really understanding or experiencing their true potential, the telecoms industry is already ploughing on with 5G test beds. But what is 5G? Well, this is the thing. As yet it remains little more than a concept; a future-vision cast out by the telecoms industry with view to preparing us all for our technological needs in years to come. Which, considering the unprecedented growth of the Internet of Things and the demand for wireless connection, could be seen as a critical component of global infrastructure. Traditionally, each generation of mobile technology has sought out to fix the problems that arose in the past. With 5G, the focus is more of a 'prediction' than a remedy. Think 2020. Of course so much can and will happen that no one can possibly know what the final outcome will be. But here are just a few examples of what to expect from the current idea of 5G: It will be ridiculously fast with huge bandwidth capacity Battery life will be greatly increased Smart Cities will become a reality It will be almost unbreakable [apparently] Technically speaking, all this will be possible thanks to 5G's ability to provide coverage at the higher end of the frequency spectrum, known as millimetre waves, thus helping to alleviate over-capacitated small cell networks. It is likely to be working in conjunction with existing network technologies and bands currently used for the deployment of 3G and 4G. Of course there is no exact prediction as to how and when 5G will make its impact, but there has been plenty of talk suggesting UK and Europe as likely pioneers thanks to companies such as Ericsson who are already busy test-driving 5G devices. KT Telecom also hinted that the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeonchang could see the first commercial rollout of the technology. Whatever the future holds, if 5G lives up to any of its promises, things could get very interesting indeed.

27 July 2015

Press Release - JM Appoints 2 New Directors

The JM Group is pleased to announce two senior appointments within the company. Adam Drew and Fiona Eddy were invited to become Directors of the JM Group (IT Recruitment) Limited and we are delighted that they have both accepted. Fiona Eddy has been appointed Director with immediate effect. Fiona brings to the board her deep experience of relationship management and client development as well as her extensive knowledge of contract recruitment gained during her18 year career at JM.     Adam Drew has been appointed Finance and Operations Director with immediate effect. His broader role across the business will include full responsibility for Finance, HR, IT and Operations.     Stuart Milton, Chairman of The JM Group, commented: "We are delighted that Fiona and Adam have joined us on the Board, their appointments will be key to the future success of the group. The JM Group offers a full compliment of recruitment services, including executive search, selection, contingent permanent, contracts and interim services.

24 July 2015

96 % of UK Corporations Hacked: Is Anyone Really Safe?

New data has revealed a staggering percentage of UK corporations reporting security breaches. The hacks appear to be for a number of reasons, namely to steal, change or publicise important data. According to the government-commissioned 2015 Information Security Breaches Survey conducted by PwC, 90% of the bigger organisations polled reported breaches - more than 10% up on last year's figures. Smaller firms have also seen a leap in successful hacks, with 74% now admitting to being left vulnerable to attack. The survey also showed that the majority of businesses expect their incident rate to further increase in the coming year. What is perhaps most disconcerting however is the nature of the attacks, which are predominantly being targeted by outsiders via the use of malicious software. While many firms are doing what they can to protect themselves from cybercrime, there remain a significant number of UK businesses - 9.1% - that have yet to implement any kind of safeguarding procedure. This trend is by no means exclusive to the UK either. In the world's longest running and most comprehensive research on senior financial executives, the latest round of data from the Global Business Outlook Survey shows increased hacking to be a global issue. 92% of polled businesses across Europe have been hacked, with 23% not acting to prevent attacks. More than 80% of firms in the US have been breached, with a further 85% across Asia, Africa and Latin America. It is clear then that cybercrime is not going to go away anytime soon. But with so many businesses failing to protect themselves, the real problem seems to be a little closer to home. Thus the role of the in-house ITC security team is becoming more important than ever.

13 July 2015

A New Segmentation for Retail Financial Services

Courtesy of JM Guest Blogger Anne Boden of Starling Bank. We all know the context. Despite billions of pounds of investment in new propositions, brand "refreshes" and other marketing, trust in the UK banking sector is still at an all time low. There is very little actual differentiation between the main retail banking players, and almost no perceived distinction when you ask customers. If people bother to move at all, they are pushed out by bad service, unexpected fees or lack of product competitiveness, and are pulled to an alternative by little more than convenience of alternate branch or until recently joining cash incentive. But we believe the market is on the tipping point of major change. There is a new generation of players that have or are about to launch. Many will play in the traditional retail banking space, but differentiate by channel or customer experience. Some are taking one element of the services traditionally delivered by the banks, and either offering a best in class experience or serving previously under-served audiences. This is the sort of market disaggregation that has happened in the US, and we believe is inevitable in the UK as well. This article attempts to take this moment in time, and capture who's doing what, in order to help the uninitiated navigate this increasingly complex, brave new world of how the UK population can manage their money. Big banks and traditional challengers The players here are well known. Defined, and some would say hampered, by their history and, in most cases, their high street presence. Legacy systems restrict innovation, and large customer bases restrict the ability to expand quickly to meet evolving customer expectations. The likes of TSB and Williams & Glyn have been forced into existence by EC mandates to increase competition post financial crisis but are simply "a chip off the old block" encumbered with legacy without the scale of the originating big bank. I'm not sure this is where you would start if you really wanted to create a new and agile player likely to introduce some true competition. The exceptions to this are the new players of Metro and Virgin Money. That said, there was much expectation set at the launch of both players, but little delivery beyond making slightly better what was annoying customers - faster account opening, branch hours more reflective of a busy, urban audience, and some small product innovation. Savings and mortgages - building societies as was plus new entrants For some time yet, there will still be power in the savings and mortgage space, occupied by those that can offer increased value. This is mostly driven by their ability to price competitively in moments of key market demand. It will be interesting to see how this sub-category of brands retain relevance as the generations who remember the power of the building society model mature. Currently price is still their biggest draw to younger generations, but the lack of investment in defining their brands beyond this rational hook may result in further disaggregation in this space, as we've seen in other lending markets. The supermarkets and other retailers This sector saw large levels of investment between 2012 and 2014, but it feels like focus has returned (out of necessity) to their core business of grocery. Trust remains an issue - many people seem happy to take out insurance or a reward based credit card, but very few are moving their current account relationship. Why does a banking licence matter? So one of the key questions we get asked is why we are bothering to apply for a banking licence? And the answer is simple. For the time being, the word 'bank' is still the frame of reference that people look to in terms of where to securely keep and manage their money. Alongside this, there is still an element of trust that comes with the increased regulatory supervision imposed on the banks. Most importantly of course, it provides the maximum available protection for customers' money, with balances being underwritten by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme to the tune of £85,000 per customer, per bank. As we come on to some of the disaggregated products hitting the market, there is a common misconception that this means money is protected in the same way. And of course, whilst they are regulated, the same level of protection isn't offered. The next generation of banks The simplest way to think about the core of new market entrants is that they will effectively replicate the full set of products and services a traditional retail bank has, just through all or a subset of digital channels. Necessary branch based services (e.g. paying in cash or cheques) will still be offered, but via a third party arrangement. That's not to say this reference to the traditional product set is a bad thing in any way. Customers still frame their decision around the core set of products that have existed for many years. And the advantage all of these players have is in building the majority of their systems for current market requirements, enabling them to both avoid the sins of the past and hopefully deliver genuine innovation in customer experience. Some are specialising based on audience - OakNorth and Civilised are focusing more on the small business audience; Lintel believe there is untapped potential with foreign nationals, but the majority still see the advantage in servicing a broad base of customers. How will Starling be different from this? We believe there is an opportunity to go further than just replicating a full set of retail banking products, and focus on delivering an exceptional, mobile-first experience for the core customer need of money management, by building a single, best in class, current account. As highlighted in previous blogs, why do customers have multiple products that do slightly different shades of the same thing? The mental accounting piece aside (because that can be solved in other ways), it's because banks have spent years telling customers they need them. And why? Because selling (and it was selling) complex products, with opaque charging models made really good commercial sense! Of course, like all new players, we will be looking to right the many wrongs proliferated by the category. But in focusing on a single product build, all of our investment in the customer experience will be concentrated on the things customers need and use the most. Neo-banks If you look at the US and some of the European markets, you can see another area of growth that is likely to hit the UK market soon, in the form of so-called neo-banks. These brands claim to deliver the best in class digital experience, with none of the risk of a balance sheet - so they effectively put a layer of information management over another banks' product set. The challenge with this is that customers' funds and effectively the bulk of the relationship is held with the partner bank, and so in creating those hand-offs, such as in the on-boarding process, this can still be onerous. Simple and Moven are probably the most well known names in this space, with Number 26 starting to grow their reputation across Europe. Monese will be the first player to launch in the UK, currently schedule for summer 2015. Whilst full details on their proposition are yet to be revealed, current messaging features the ease and speed of account opening, as well as the lack of hidden fees - but transparency is easier when you don't allow customers to borrow any money at all. Pre-paid debit cards The grouping of brands that have the greatest potential to cause customer confusion have to be the pre-paid debit cards. Many are calling themselves a "bank", without needing or possessing a banking licence, and/or promoting their "current accounts", without offering the full spectrum of benefits customers have come to associate with this nomenclature. Or at least certainly not offering the same level of free banking as is currently offered by the retail banks. Now this may lead to a greater level of transparency for the sector overall. As one of the brands quite rightly claims, no banking is truly free in the UK, as all businesses need to make money somewhere. The danger though is that currently, many of the players in this space are a viable offer for those that can't pass the credit scoring required for a full current account with the banks, and would rather have the additional benefits offered (although at a cost) beyond historical "basic" bank accounts. Whilst transparent in terms of charging, I would argue that customers will pay a premium to go via this route. For some it is worth the monthly cost - for those without credit history or credentials, the security of an FSCS scheme and the absence of overdraft facilities is irrelevant. It is better to have a card than no card at all. However, it is sad that the people who least afford services sometimes pay the most and social inclusion in the financial system remains a challenge. Payments and digital wallets As payments and mobile technology evolves, some would argue whether you need a card at all. As NFC technology advances, secure mobile or wearables payments should become the norm. The two biggest barriers in the UK currently are the roll-out of technology at the merchant end, with many terminals still not taking contactless, let alone mobile, and there are still large populations of customers for whom security is a concern. Of course services such PayPal, and others like ApplePay, Google Wallet, and Amazon offering a digital wallet still ultimately need to be "funded" from somewhere or only currently house existing, traditional card details. But what are the barriers in the future to them to create their own cards and / or fully-fledged current accounts? When this happens, markets such as the pre-paid cards will cease to exist, forcing those brands to evolve or die. FX / international payments Whilst a much smaller market, international payments has not remained static either, with Transferwise leading the charge to take business away from what it says are the cost prohibitive bank services. I wouldn't rule out the old school Western Union and Money Gram however, who still benefit from large volumes of usage by foreign nationals, and are looking at their own innovation to stay relevant in a digital age. The lending market will continue to evolve Finally, it will be interesting to see what happens in the lending space after the flurry of new entrants, and market disaggregation in recent years. With much regulatory focus on the payday lenders, we may see some contraction here. What will be interesting is to see who in the peer-to-peer space is really set to weather any sort of storm (touch lots of wood that we won't see a financial crisis like the last anytime soon). The attractive rates are bringing in the savers, in an environment of rock bottom rates everywhere else. But as rates start to rise, how much of a return will customers be willing to trade off for their FSCS protection? So what? Ultimately, what's the desired outcome of all of this increased competition? Well of course, it should be to ensure customers will have more choice. And that is the agenda that should be driving what ever proposition the brands of the future create. Courtesy of JM Guest Blogger Anne Boden of Starling Bank.This article first appeared on Anne Boden's Linkedin Blog which can be found herehttps://www.linkedin.com/pulse/new-segmentation-retail-financial-services-anne-boden

03 July 2015

Top Tips When Job Hunting

When it comes to job hunting, the smart money is on those candidates who manage to achieve maximum results with minimum effort. Increase your chances of getting the role that you want and take all the hassle out of the process, with out top tips for job hunting. Don't just wait for the work to come to you. It might sound like a lot of effort but actually you're saving yourself time to go proactively seeking jobs rather than applying at the same time as everyone else. You may be able to apply for a role before others get the chance to or you might simply benefit from demonstrating enthusiasm or being the first CV in the pile - search for opportunities via social media, the websites of the companies you want to work for, by contacting HR teams and looking for signs that a company might be recruiting, such as deal news, new partnerships or client announcements. Network heartily. This doesn't mean standing around in stuffy rooms clutching a glass of warm wine. Make sure your social media profiles are up to date and compelling and make contacts online. Don't waste your energy attending every event in your industry, research those that are likely to have the best attendees for connections and then go and perform at your networking best for a couple of hours and come home with all the connections you need without breaking a sweat. How can you stand out? Yes, most CVs need to tick certain boxes for certain jobs but you also need to make sure there is something that differentiates you from the rest. You might want to start your CV with a short, compelling personal statement, or you could even opt for a gimmick - send your CV with some Easter chocolate, for example. Focus on the company, not the job. If you know you want to work for a specific business then become their biggest fan. Interact with them via social media, be a brand ambassador and contribute to their digital marketing. Brands want employees to love their products and services as much as they do so this is a great way to get noticed. Create your own job. This is ambitious but if you think a company is lacking a certain position then tell them about it. You'll need to back this up by researching the business, and the market, stating what they're missing out on without it and what benefits you would bring. Make sure you communicate this to the right person too - it's usually better sent to a partner/manager level employee, rather than HR or recruitment.  

29 June 2015

Introducing the New JM Group Website

For the past 34 years, JM Group has been helping talented IT, Change and Digital professionals and leaders find their next career opportunity. In that time we have also witnessed the birth of the digital sector and its extraordinary development. As a result, we were able to extend our client base to include companies and individuals from across these fields. Having reached a point where we are representing the most cutting-edge people in the IT and digital sectors, it seemed only right that our website reflected this. Which is why we would like to announce the launch of our new and improved site - aimed at giving clients and candidates the best online experience, wherever they may be. With a mature client base which includes leading organisations within the financial industry and global corporates, Director Louise Smith said, "Over the last few years our focus has also extended to Digital professionals and we have updated our website to reflect this and also to allow interested clients and candidates to find out more about us whether sat in the office or on the move. Our new website allows us to communicate more effectively with our network of candidates. It incorporates responsive design with a carefully constructed layout, intended to make navigation as simple and hassle-free as possible. Its entire content has been completely overhauled with improvements made to its management and SEO capability. Access to useful blog material has been made easier than ever, and we were adamant that our candidates were the main focus for the new layout and functions. We also hope that the new website will help to increase the potential client attraction, driving clients and candidates towards it thus boosting the ROI. 2015 has so far been a very busy and productive year for JM Group. We have been working exclusively with a leading infrastructure organisation to build an in-house IT function of 40 people. We have also collaborated with a new bank and leading investment management firm to identify Senior Leaders. Our interim practice has grown too, with a particular focus on Change and Programme Management Skills. If you are a candidate looking to work in Business Change, IT or Digital, or a client wanting to hire new talent for your company, please contact us and we will be happy to help.

22 June 2015

What it Takes to Become a Solutions Architect

A Solutions Architect is in many ways a very easy job to define and in many ways rather more opaque. It's one of the raft of roles that have appeared with the new growth of the tech industry and is essentially one that involves interaction with customers using a piece of software or a service, listening to the issues that they have experienced and then designing solutions to those problems. It's an essential position for customer retention, product development and customer service, as well as being an exciting and varied role. So how do you become a Solutions Architect? The first step on the road to this role normally involves a degree in a related subject. So, a bachelor's degree in something such as computer science, software engineering or information technology - this may vary from employer to employer, some of whom may require a masters level degree and others of whom may have a specific final class of degree in mind. The kind of topics covered will include systems engineering, advanced maths, programming and database management. The flip side of the tech ability is the communications aspect of being a Solutions Architect and there are opportunities during the degree phase to work on this, such as taking courses in ethics and mass media analysis. Your next step might be to look into getting some sort of additional certification or qualification to set your CV apart from others with a similar degree. This might be network security, software programs or even specifically solutions architecture certification. Gaining experience is probably one of the most important stages in the process of becoming a Solutions Architect. Around five to ten years experience in a related field is normally required before the switch is made to the Solutions Architect role. Network administration and working with IT systems are the two principle areas from which Solutions Architects tend to be drawn and skills such as detxterity with business intelligence tools or complex database management systems are very valuable to have on your CV. If you want to boost the experience side of your CV then it might be worth taking on some independent contractor jobs, particularly as these sometimes require less experience in order to get started (two to three years). Make sure that you can demonstrate knowledge and experience of a wide variety of technology and software, particularly those that will be required for the positions you're interested in. If this sounds like the role for you, them JM Digital can help. Get in touch with our team today for more information.

21 May 2015

Your company is insane according to Albert (and who am I to argue?)

Article by JM Guest Blogger Neil Marshall of ChangeSchool.org This article first appeared on Neil Marshall's LinkedIn blog of 30 June 2014. The world is changing. Or at least mine is. Conversations in client organisations are going from "Why are we doing this?" to "Why haven't we done this yet?" All very encouraging. All of which means the ever present change programme cycle moves on again. There has been a lot of ink spilt down the years on how to do this well. Everyone from Kotter to Prosci to X to Y can tell you the '7 things that make your kettle boil NOW'. If you laid all the slide decks full of 2x2 matrices end on end you'd probably discover dark matter. And yet somehow we still manage not to do change very well. The stats have stayed the same. In the late 90's Harvard did surveys and they found that 65% of change initiatives had failed. McKinsey did a recent study and the figure is 70%. You can find lots of reasons in lots of articles and books for this - badly scoped, projects not implemented poorly, benefits not quantified etc etc - lots of 'What's done or not done'. 30 years talking about 'what to do', with no improvement. That would have Albert scratching his head. So out of respect for Albert, 'What to do' is not what this blog is about. Instead, I want to look at something different. I want to look at 'Who does it'. Here is my take on it. Whodunnit (up until now) Traditionally, companies have used one of three sets of people to implement change. These are the three things that fail 7 times out of 10. They are: They do it themselves This has advantages - you know your people, you know your industry, and you know your organisation. And the Finance Director likes it because it is cheap. However, change is a process and a competency like any other. It draws from strategy, problem solving, project management methodology, behavioural science, neuroscience, psychology and leadership, and you have to know what you are doing. What you save in lower cost, you will lose a hundred fold in benefits that never come to pass and plunging productivity in the meantime. Bring in contractors to help This costs a bit more, but at least you have the resource and (hopefully) some expertise. Someone skilled enough is hard to find. Even if you do, as a contractor they will be hamstrung because they lack a network in your organisation. The leader of your change is completely reliant on the political power of others. And once they're done, even if they do succeed where most fail, that expertise then walks out of the door and off to the next contract. In fact, usually well before your change has stuck, because again, they are expensive. Use consultants Professional, with a good level of expertise, the right consultants understand change. They also understand their value - this is an expensive route. The thing with consultants is, the process is one of being done to. Consultants are always outsiders, often resented by those in the organisation, which makes their task doubly hard. And, just like contractors, they will leave early and take their expertise with them. Looking at these options that people have, a 70% change failure rate is really no surprise. Without your own change capability, deployed strategically, the options aren't great. It's not about what you do, it is about who does it. So what to do? My answer, for what it is worth, is to build your own internal change capacity and capability in BAU to successfully deliver change. (And that's not just me saying it - IBM do to, in this report) That is not PMO, by the way (sorry PMs). Projects initiate change, but they are not the ones that need to carry it out. Project managers deliver new capabilities that have the promise of changing the way we do things. They do this really well, focussed on time, quality and cost. However, the actual change (and the positive outcomes) happen in operations - the sales, HR, manufacturing and finance teams who have to go through changes and make them endearing. These are the people who are either tasked with a change or find themselves at the business end of large transformation programmes. They are the ones that need to deal with people adapting to change. In other words, change happens in 'Business As Usual'. It is there that you need your change competency, not the PMO. Jack Welch in his letter to shareholders in 1992 famously said: Stimulate and relish change... [don't be] frightened or paralyzed by it. See change as opportunity, not just a threat. So next time you look at managing change (that would be tomorrow for many of us), use it as an opportunity. Us it to build personal and organisational change competency in BAU, competency you can keep, so you can deliver the benefits you promised. Get some expertise in (Hello! - just saying :-)) not to run the change for you, but to develop and mentor your leaders to be successful change agents. Give them a deep understanding and knowledge of change, complemented by practiced new skills. Over time, you can build a valuable internal competency, which is the best resource to deliver successful change. As you do it, you will develop your next generation of leaders. And you'll never have to rely on consultants or contractors again. Neil is Commercial Director of ChangeSchool Ltd, Contact him at neilm@changeschool.org  

24 April 2015

Press Release - Simon Girven Appointed Director.

The JM Group are delighted to announce the return to JM of one of its key employees in the first phase of growth for the company. Simon Girven has re-joined the JM Group as Director and a member of the Operations Board. Simon brings with him a wealth of experience in the Senior Technology and Financial Services Sector. He will be responsible for the development and growth within both the Financial and Professional sectors of the business. In his career Simon has been responsible for several high profile appointments in the financial services and technology space. He is also one of the Founding Board members of Deep Blue Associates, which he formed with the involvement of his prior clients and colleagues. Simon played a major role in developing this company into a dominant provider on the permanent Senior IT talent market. He personally managed key relationships with the Salomon Brothers, Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan. Commenting on the new appointment the Chairman and Founding Shareholder, Stuart Miltonstated: "These are exciting times at JM. The shape of our business has changed considerably as our market moved and many of our former clients slowed down in their hiring in the last couple of years. However, we are seeing increasing opportunities within financial services. We recognise that Simon will play a valuable role in continuing the JM growth of the past few years as we deliver our renowned superior service to our clients in the futute". The JM Group offers a full compliment of recruitment services, including executive search, selection and interim.  

23 April 2015

Tips to Improve Your Local SEO

Thanks to the developing intelligence of search engines and mobile technology, the power of local has seen something of a renaissance. Any business or organisation, large or small, can boost its SEO by following a few simple steps. Include an Address in All Online Platforms Without an address, you cannot rank in local search results, unless you work extra hard on your localised keywords. Not only should you have an accurate address on your site, but also on all relevant online platforms. The more pages you can list your address and local phone number, the better your local search ranking will be. Look at the layout of your website and see how you can include contact information at the top or bottom of every page. Add Your Business to Google+ Local Listing your business contact details on Google+ Local, or taking control of any that it already has, will put you at an immediate advantage. Simply go to www.google.co.uk/local/add and sign in with any existing Google account or create a new one. Follow the on-screen instructions to add your primary phone number and address, and any other details. Go Multimedia While keywords remain important, they become even stronger when linked to variety of media. People on the lookout for a particular product in their area are just as likely to check out the Images tab on Google, as they are the Web results. Use text, pictures and video to give your ranking an extra push and use all three on your Google+ Local page too. Use Google Maps Search for your business's location on Google Maps and click the Link button to get the embed code for the map. Add this map to your website, on the same page that is listed for your Google+ Local page. Separate Your Locations If you operate in different areas, give each one its own page on your website and then customise its optimisation with keywords specific to that area. Try to make the content of each page as original as possible to avoid getting penalised by Google. Check the Usability of Your Site Does your website work on different devices? Is it responsive? Is it simple to navigate? If not then it's time to invest in a web designer who can adjust the code to make it more user friendly. Things to look out for are horizontal scrolling and links and boxes too small to tap on a touchscreen device. If you work in User Experience Design, Visual Design, Web Design and Development and are looking for a new venture then please get in touch. JM Digital is a specialist recruitment agency, working closely with candidates in the digital field.

20 April 2015

How Event Tracking Can Improve the UX of Your Site

With more flash and Javascript functionality, user experience has moved far beyond simply reading text page by page. It has evolved into a fully interactive sphere with live updates and multimedia. But whilst the overall UX has improved, analysts can struggle to really see and measure what's going on within that experience. That's where Google Analytics comes in. Though widely regarded as a marketing tool, it can in fact be the saving grace for any UX researcher in need of immediate insights - without adding a new layer of tools. A basic Google Analytics account is free and offers more than enough data to give you what you need. It is also incredibly flexible with almost limitless options of answers that can be extracted: everything from usage trends and actions, to tracking errors. All this data can then be easily managed and represented pretty much however you want. Before you begin with any in depth analysis, it is important to understand the basic tracking structure. GA allows you to have multiple Accounts, Properties and Views. The top level is Account. This is used to separate individual websites or projects that you want to track. Properties offer a way to break down different concerns within those websites and projects, keeping user flow and metrics nicely isolated. View is another level of data separation. As with any data collection, you must first have a clear idea of what it is you want to discover. Once you know this you can select which data to collect and analyse so as to further improve and refine the user experience. Standard Pageview Tracking By default, GA provides standard tracking code that observes how your users are navigating, along with parallel data that reveals some further details about them. This allows you to see where they entered and left your site, and which paths they took through the site. It also shows you the type of device they used. Though this is more aimed at marketing, it can easily be modified to work for analysts by adding in some code - setting GA up manually and calling a tracking function every time a user performs a task you want to track. Behaviour Flow Behaviour flow is under the Behaviour section and is a GA report that tells you exactly how users are navigating your website. You can use this to analyse how users behave at a particular point of your flow, as well as isolating any unnecessary steps or returns to previous states. Perhaps most importantly, you can determine which steps are not being followed as you may have intended. Event Tracking Since it is the smaller details that really make for a smoother UX, Google Analytics enables you to track events separately from pageview to avoid interfering with the behaviour flow reports. These events represent standalone actions that your users are taking, such as opening different menus or altering list views. They are completely customisable and each event has four properties that you define yourself: Category, Action, Label and Value. To track an event you need to add a different line of code, similar to pageview tracking. Event reports can be viewed in the Behaviour -> Events section. The intensity of each action is also visually represented when you select table view by Performance. Why not start using Google Analytics Event Tracking today as a tool to help you answer questions and collect feedback on your website's user experience and see where you can improve.

07 April 2015

UX KPIs you should be tracking

Measurements have always been a way of keeping track of whether something is working. As human beings we have done this ever since we first developed numerical measurement systems (perhaps even before then) and since online experience became such an important tool for business this has become even more the case. Learning to measure user experience is not only key for working out how we can improve the overall experience and satisfaction but also for quantifying exactly what is working and what isn't. With that in mind, here are a few of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs i.e. the quantifiable measurements) that you should be tracking. Task success is one of the most commonly used KPIs and basically measures the percentage of correctly completed tasks by users. This could be something such as signing up for a newsletter, buying a product or registering personal details. When the number of successful tasks is divided by the total number of attempts you'll be able to see how hard or difficult people find the task to complete. Navigation or search is another important metric that will show you how the website is being used i.e. how many people are getting around the site using the designed navigation and how many are opting for search. Normally navigation is the first choice and then if that fails people will resort to search so if the metrics show a higher number of uses of search than navigation then the site design might need a rethink. Error rates will show you have many times users are falling down while trying to complete a task, such as making a payment. You need to define here what will constitute a user's failure and whether you're going to include a partial failure in your calculations. You might want to measure the total number of errors against the total number of opportunities for errors or alternatively the total number of errors against the total number of task attempts. Conversion is of course the definitive metric when it comes to success and, although this is important, it's also worth remembering that the conversion metric misses out those people who are almost ready to commit or interested in committing but haven't quite got there yet. If you can, widen out your metrics from conversion to include those who might imminently convert or who might be thinking about it - for example, look at the likelihood of taking action on a micro conversion - then you will get a broader, better picture.

23 March 2015

Top skills needed to be Java Developer

Java is one of the most popular programming languages on the web and so a career as a Java developer can open an enormous number of doors. Given the way that the world is heading - i.e. with much of our lives now organised and developed online - it's also a career that holds an enormous amount of potential for progression, whether you're looking to work in the UK or all over the world. However, being a Java developer is not for everyone so what skills do you need in order to fit well within this role? Are you computer literate? This is obviously absolutely key to anyone who wants to go into this area. By computer literate, you need to be more familiar with the workings of computer programs than simply answering emails or being able to access social media sites. You will need to understand how to operate the computer in order to be able to use it as a tool. Do you know what Java is? Ok this might sound a bit simplistic but unless you have a thorough understanding of what Java is then you don't really know whether you're the right person for the role. If you can't answer questions such as 'do you know how to use Java files?' or 'do you know what Java file editors and compilers are?' Then it might be worth doing a little more research before making any applications. What kind of working environment are you looking for? While not a skill as such, being suited to the working conditions of being a Java developer will be an important step on the path towards making a successful career of it. If you're happy to work long hours tackling work alone, often with minimal social interaction then you'll do just fine. However, if you're looking for a team environment with constant supervision then this may not be for you. What are your practical skills? In order to be a talented Java developer you'll need to pick up skills such as learning how to solve development and programming issues. However, there are also some skills and abilities that really need to be innate - for example, you will need to be a patient worker and able to focus for long periods of time. You'll also need to enjoy the analysis of getting to the heart of any problems that arise. If this sounds like you then JM Digital can help. We have some fascinating roles for Java developers - get in touch with our team for more information today.  

09 March 2015

Tips to Streamline Your PPC Campaign

PPC campaigns can be laborious, frustrating and at times confusing - especially for managers with more than one campaign on their hands. Keeping them as efficient and streamlined as possible will increase productivity and help to preserve sanity. Here are a few simple suggestions for how this can be achieved. Use Negative Keywords Too often, PPC managers devote all their time to the keywords that generate traffic. But what about the traffic that has no intention of making a conversion on your site because you do not offer the specific type of product or service they are looking for? Negative keywords help to filter your traffic and can be an invaluable money-saving tool. Make Your Location Known It's incredible how many businesses neglect to include information on their location in the main body of their PPC advertising. It is a sure-fire way to improve your chances of appearing on a search, whilst making any traffic more relevant to you. Pause Low-Performing Ads and Keywords Keep an eye out for ads and keywords that are no longer doing their job. As soon as you spot them, pause and edit them. You can test it by conducting your own searches, as well as analysing the campaign data. Failing to act on this will only cause you to waste valuable time and money. Test It One great way to streamline your campaign is to allow for a testing period where you can pinpoint current and potential issues and address them instantly, rather than relying on costly trial and error. This will encourage your strategy to sustain itself. Automate Reports The thought of combing through the large volumes of data that come with PPC reports is unlikely to be an appealing one. Save the more frequent reports and set up an automated email to receive them. This will help you to stay on top of your campaign and monitor progress more efficiently. If you are looking for SEO vacancies, JM Digital can help. As specialist recruiters, we work with candidates experienced in UX and web design, software development and project management - amongst others. Please contact us to find out more.

23 February 2015

How to Become a Front-End Web Developer

Whether you're an experienced digital designer looking for career change, or completely new to the world of web developing, becoming a front-end web developer could be within your reach. You just need to be highly motivated and willing to teach yourself a few essential skills, as well as being the right person for the job of course. The best place to start is at the beginning - what exactly do front-end web developers do? Well, they are responsible for creating the user-facing side of websites. In other words they code all the interactive and visual elements of a website, as well as working to optimise web applications. As is the case with many coding jobs, a formal education may not be necessary; there is a wide range of free online courses available where you can pick up the basic skills of coding. However, you must be able to demonstrate ample knowledge and experience as well as offering transferable skills, such as working to deadlines and budgets. Web development is a rapidly evolving sphere so keeping on top of all the current best practices is essential. Get experience by building websites that use these practices and technologies. One of the greatest things about all things related to web design and development is the open source community, and the way it drives the highly collaborative Front-End world. Getting involved in this will prove useful in many ways. When it comes to learning the web languages, HTML and CSS are essential. They are the blueprints behind everything that you build, and how it looks. JavaScript has also become a prerequisite, thanks to smart devices and the demand for dynamic websites. It is worth starting with 'vanilla' JavaScript, before tackling jQuery. Getting to grips with web design techniques such as responsive design, modern design language and frameworks will deepen your understanding and make the overall process a lot more efficient. Becoming savvy with building web-apps will also put you at a significant advantage; why not start by working with templating engines. While front-end devs are primarily tech-minded types, they also need to be highly creative with an eye for design. It is after all, the user-facing side of websites, which need to look and work well enough to make people want to spend money and keep coming back. Which brings us to our final point: how to make a website nice and fast. For this you need to understand a few principles of browser rendering. If you are looking for jobs in the UX and web development sector, please contact JM Digital to book a consultation with one of our expert recruiters.

09 February 2015

How to Make a Good First Impression

You may think that preparing for a job interview means going over your answers to potential questions, and brushing up on the company background. Of course these are both important things to consider but making a good first impression depends on so much more. Everything you do from the moment you respond to the interview invitation you will be taken on board - consciously or not - by everyone you come into contact with. This means the receptionist, the PA, the people in the interview room and whomever you happen to bump into in the bathroom. It's always good to make sure your online profile is clean and up to date as it is likely that your interviewer will search for your profile and you don't want anything on Facebook to ruin your chances before the interview even begins! The first thing you need to think about is your appearance. Getting the look right is essential for communicating the right message. Smart is almost a given for any job interview, regardless of the office dress code, but discuss with your recruiter what dress code they feel would be appropriate. Being well presented is a mark of respect and will also make you carry yourself in a more professional manner. Punctuality is absolutely necessary and arriving a little early will also give you the chance to calm your nerves and get your bearings. Be nice to the receptionist and try not to sit glued to your phone while you wait to be called in. Which brings us to being organised in general. If you have a portfolio, or CV or any other documentation with you, make sure it is instantly accessible and well presented. Fumbling about in a bag for a stray piece of paper won't look too good. Making eye contact and smiling at people is an invaluable way to put them at ease and gain their trust. It will only work if it is genuine so try to overcome your nerves and let your inner light shine a little. Don't be afraid to make the first move in extending a hand and introducing yourself. If the opportunity arises, try to find a connection with the interviewer is a fantastic way to make a good impression. Initiate some light-hearted conversation and ask them things like how long they have been with the company. A good interview should consist of dialog, not just one-way questioning. So don't be afraid to show your enthusiasm and curiosity by asking your own questions about the company and the position. It will help you to make your mark. Just be careful not to come across as ignorant by asking things that you should already know, such as the job specification. The number one rule in all instances is to be professional and genuine. Even if you don't get the job, it is always worth being remembered for the right reasons and may pay off in the future.

26 January 2015

Top SEO Trends to Look Out for in 2015

  The world of SEO has continued to change and evolve for as long as it has existed. Every year we see new trends, new strategies and new regulations, keeping businesses forever on their toes. Here is our own outlook for the SEO trends of 2015. Less Text, More Visual Despite SEO being dictated by words, the rise and success of visual content is undeniable. Infographics, videos and memes have dominated our screens for months now and this looks set to continue. The result will be that Google adjusts its policies to accommodate this, being fully aware that users are sick of reading dry text. Semantic Search Whilst this concept is nothing new (Google's Hummingbird took into account the semantics of whole sentences typed into the search bar back in 2013) it is certainly influencing the advance of the human search. As technology develops, so does our relationship with it and conversational queries are on the rise. Keywords will need to include long tail and LSI (latent semantic indexing) if they are to be effective. Mobile Search Optimisation According to Google, half of all mobile searches have local intent: people looking to make an in-store purchase nearby. Likewise, there are also more and more people who only use their mobiles to go online. It is therefore predicted that mobile search optimisation will become a priority for businesses looking to up their rankings and tap into a growing market. Securing Link Profiles Negative SEO continues to plague businesses left, right and centre, despite the increased intelligence of search engines. This is why it is more important than ever for companies to secure their link profiles, keeping close eye on each and every link that appears on their sites. It is ruthless out there but a site that is clearly genuine is a lot less likely to be penalised for a couple of bad links. Social Media Ranking The debate on whether or not social signals influence search ranking has gone on for long enough. However, social media sites are where businesses should really be looking as they have the power to outrank actual websites. 2015 will see companies placing less emphasis on getting people to their website first and more on simply having consumers click on any link that takes them to a company page. If you are an SEO Account Manager looking for a new job, JM digital offers specialist recruitment services and advice. Just see our website for more details.  

12 January 2015

What web design trends will prevail in 2015?

Web design is an area that moves pretty quickly and when it comes to trends these can come and go at some speed. With the end of the year fast approaching, we're taking a look at a few of the web design trends we think are going to be big for 2015. More emphasis on typography. We all know that those web type kits that incorporate the most appealing fonts and typefaces tend to be the most expensive, which has meant that in the past the really aesthetic pleasing typography has been out of reach for budget businesses. In 2015 this won't be the case as type-kits are becoming more affordable and designers working with smaller budgets have much more freedom to apply their skills. Better visuals. Powerful backgrounds, the use of strong, beautiful images and videos will all begin to define web design trends next year. If you needed any confirmation of how much visuals are becoming important in the digital world then just look at the lengths Twitter has gone to in order to incorporate them. Responsive design. 2015 is the year that we will truly see more web browsing happening on smart phones and tablets so responsive website design is going to become crucial. Responsive design ensures that a website being browsed adjusts to the screen size in question. Websites without this inbuilt will find themselves quickly shedding shoppers/visitors. Scrolling vs. clicking. The trend for mobile browsing will also affect website layout, with information that can be accessed via scrolling becoming preferable to information that must be clicked through to reach. Scrolling lessens load times, it's easier to do, more intuitive and allows for a better user experience all round. Bye bye coding. The traditional division of labour between designers and coders is already being blown away as tools for web design become more comprehensive and more ambitious. It's now possible to create websites without touching any code at all and next year we will see this lowering barriers to entry for designers. Webgraphics. It's common knowledge that most of us tend to absorb information more effectively if it's presented visually. We have seen this trend for some time with infographics and now this has evolved into Webgraphics. This is a way of effectively presenting a large amount of information but also allows for a user to interact with the information - it's more effective in terms of communicating and will also help to increase retention.

22 December 2014
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