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“If It’s Difficult To Find, That’s Where Your Threat Will Be”: Hunted’s Ben & Danni On Cybersecurity

Ben Owen and Danni Brooke are the Co-Directors for the EMEA Practice at Fortalice Solutions, a leading global cyber security and intelligence operations company.  They travel globally to assist clients with their cyber security requirements, bespoke training needs, intelligence and investigations both online and physical and counter fraud training/consultation. They deliver and manage a portfolio of pro-active intelligence solutions to keep people, nations and businesses safe from threats and head up the EMEA operations.  Ben and Danni also feature on the hit Channel 4 show, Hunted and Celebrity Hunted which has been airing for over four years with another series set to be filmed this summer. I caught up with them recently to discuss the latest Fraud, tools and challenges for the Cybersecurity industry. Cybersecurity is an ever-changing landscape. What trends do you anticipate for the next 12 months and beyond? It is always difficult to pin down what the next real trend is going to be in the Cybersecurity space as adversaries are becoming ever more sophisticated.  What was once a very difficult process for skilled individuals is becoming more readily available to novices with advances in software, particularly those shared on the Dark Web. What is an inevitable threat trend in the next 12-months and beyond is the exponential rise in the Internet of Things (IoT).  With a world where everything is hooked up to the web, it is apparent that tech companies selling these devices are under immense pressure to get products to market. The need for speed could mean that some security principles and best practices may be overlooked.   As the UK encountered during the Mirai Botnet attack of 2016, a network of electronic devices acting in concert can cripple the internet or, worst case, become a weapon that could cause actual physical damage as well as cyber damage, power stations, hospital networks to name but a few.   How have Data & Analytics impacted the detection, and prevention, of cyber-crime? A company will have to protect themselves against an enormous amount of cyber threats every second.  A cyber-criminal will only need one successful attempt. Data & Analytics are proving successful in the fight against cyber-crime and their proactive and holistic approach is at keeping people and businesses safe.  Of course, it is Data that is being stolen, but very often Data can come to the rescue.  It helps in a number of ways, e.g. identifying anomalies in employee and contractor computer usage and patterns, detecting irregularities in networks, identifies irregularities in device behaviour (a huge advantage with the rise of the IoT). What one must remember, however, is the people behind the Data.  You can’t simply collect Data and assume you will be able to detect and respond with the right actions.  You need the people with the right analytical skills to sift through the Data, find the right signals and then react to the threat with an appropriate and timely response.   What tools and technologies do you think will become increasingly important in the fraud and cyber-crime landscape? Here at Fortalice we are investing a lot of time into coverage of the Dark Web.  We live in a rapidly changing digital landscape. Criminals, fraudsters, and others are now operating with more sophistication and anonymity. Where do they go to exchange fraudulent details and ideas about current victims? What medium do they use to discuss organisational targets or new ways of defrauding companies? The answer is the Dark Web.  Traditionally, companies fight fraud from the inside out. We want to change this landscape by accessing the entirety of the Dark Web, its pages, shady storefronts, and treasure troves of Data, and drawing on monitoring toolsets to give our clients a 360-degree resource for identifying adversarial communications and movements. It’s all about Internet coverage.  Wherever it is difficult to find – that’s where your threat will be.   A final point to this question is one of sharing tools and techniques.  A collaborative approach is always a good way of making sure the wider audience benefits.  We always work with our clients and offer other services and support outside of our remit to make sure they’re fully protected from a cyber and physical space.   What are the biggest security threats for businesses? Security is fundamentally broken because the design of many security solutions does not design for the human psyche.  Security solutions are bolted on, clunky, and hard to use but because security teams prioritise defending against easier cyber threats, they often don’t focus on the hardware side. The biggest risk to companies and individuals is always defined by the Data that is most important to you or to the business.  For individuals, this might be privacy or identity. For businesses, this could be customer Data, intellectual property, and the company’s money in the bank. The reality is that business executives can’t outspend the (cybersecurity) issue and they must be prepared. Cybersecurity no longer exists in a vacuum and it must be elevated to the conversations held in the boardroom and with senior leadership as well as entire divisions, departments, and organisations. For someone trying to get into security analytics, what skills do you think are key to being successful in the industry? The detail is in the name of the role.  A huge ability to interpret large amounts of technical Data is key to the role, as well as being able to assimilate what it means and how to action it.  Risk management is also key to this role.  Very often you will identify potential risks and you will have to triage those priorities on your own as co-workers won’t have the technical expertise to assist.  You will need to be able to communicate successfully to all levels of a workforce and last but by no means least – a good sense of humour!  When you think you have gotten to understand a new threat or vulnerability a new one will replace it within seconds.  Time to put the kettle on, smile, and get back to work with your analytical prowess.   Within fraud, it's well known that criminals are sharing their approaches, is this mirrored in cyber-security and if so, how is the industry combating this? Criminal collaboration is huge on the web.  First of all, there is no talent shortage for fraud rings or cybercriminals. There are no requirements for fancy university degrees or certifications and the crime ring pays for performance.  They don’t care what you look like, how you dress, or if you clock in during normal work hours. They care about getting the job done - hacking into and stealing information from others. Together they are sadly stronger and more effective.  On Dark Web forums, you will see fraudsters sharing and selling their ‘IP’ knowing that others will also contribute. That way they are all winners.  In the private world ideas equal money. That is of course not a bad thing for business, but it is bad for collaboration. Businesses generally don’t like to share ideas with one another because it has taken them lots of time and expense to get to their product or solution. As cliché as this comment sounds - we have to change this landscape for the greater good.  There are lots of smart government initiatives for national defences in cyber security and fighting high-end cyber-crime but seldom does this have a positive impact locally with smaller businesses.  There is a huge amount of information out there for individuals and advice, but we need to bridge the gap still between criminal collaboration and that of the good guys. If you could change one thing in the industry, what would it be? The mind set of security professionals that humans are the weakest link. We’re not! Humans are at risk because technology is by design, open.  I’d also change the mind set of those not in the Cyber Security industry.  All too often the severity of what is being reported is not taken seriously, nor are budgets set aside for cyber security issues.  That said, it is improving but there is a long way to go.  Ben and Danni spoke to Senior Consultant, Rosalind Madge. Get in touch with Rosalind or take a look at our latest job opportunities here.

Top Considerations For Campaign Analysts

The phrase Campaign Analyst means many things to many people. A quick Google search alone turns up a variety of titles and job descriptions, united by one common thread; creating merit through customer value, metrics, and consumer insight.  As a rule, Campaign Analysts have become more and more important in every forward-thinking business over the past few years, particularly in B2B marketing departments. But what are the big trends we should expect to see over the next year or so? Recapping the role    Campaign Analysts are the go-to resource for everyone from staff to stakeholders, acting as advisor in regard to digital campaigns segmentation and analytical needs, and utilising their comprehensive knowledge and understanding of customer Data. They are often the bridge across departmental teams and help provide a big picture scope, while also diving into the details of customer and marketing insights to achieve actionable results. As an overview, they:     Develop guidelines and build Database procedures to evaluate individual, multi-and omnichannel testing methodologies. Mine Data and reach out to customer segments for query Data.Identify areas of improvement for campaign organisation.Provide critical support to campaigns, from conception to implementation, with the ability to translate marketing plans into production-ready endeavours. Is it time for a Data Health Check?  Though Data & Analytics have played a big role in retail over the last few years, Marketing departments have often lagged a bit behind. However, they’re beginning to catch up. In 2018, a Dun & Bradstreet survey showed over 60 percent of B2B companies thought Data quality was extremely important. In 2019, the same rings true.  But, as things develop even further, here are a few things to consider in your Marketing Data ecosystems:  Updating your company’s customer Data health – Eliminate duplicate records, make sure customer information is accurate and up-to-date, and make sure your segmentations still make sense. Have decision makers for targeted campaigns changed or moved on? Are email addresses and phone numbers still valid? Keeping your customer Data up-to-date ensures you’re not analysing invalid Data.  Creating a more focused Data-Driven approach with Marketing ROI – Assess and evaluate spending and revenue with a lens on Marketing channel variety. What’s working? What isn’t? Where can you cut costs while increasing market-generated revenue?Micro-segmenting your targeting efforts – Go deeper in your targeted Marketing efforts. Narrow your Data parameters. The more layers you add, the more targeted you can focus your messaging, and the more likely you are to reach the best audience for your business.Utilising video Marketing – Much like boosting your resume with video, the same can be said for targeted Marketing campaigns. As a Campaign Analyst, you’ll need to work with departments across the business to create a unified Content Marketing Strategy and video remains a crucial format according to a LinkedIn study. And on that note… Pressing play on video The bland days of corporate speak, restrictive tone, and limited colour in video Marketing are a thing of the past. Video is now a crucial Marketing and engagement tool, providing the opportunity to engage with customers in almost real-time.   With this, customers feel heard and can help transform a product as well as gain trust in the business itself. From GDPR to fake news to Data breaches, it’s highly important for businesses to provide transparency in their interactions and video helps them do that.  By being transparent and acknowledging mistakes, business can both gain consumer trust and improve upon their mistakes.. In addition, customer’s no longer feel like voices in a canyon; they are part of the business and therefore more invested in the company’s success.  Additionally, this can expand your reach, allowing you discover what a broader range of customers think. If we want a recommendation for a good restaurant, a doctor, or some other place or service, we turn first to our friends. And in the era of social media, our friends are everywhere. What better way to reach out to your target audience than by video with authentic customer reviews and testimonials?  A well-developed strategy leads to happy customers and their goodwill is, ultimately, free Marketing.  If you’re looking for your next Campaign Analyst opportunity, we may have a role for you. Check out our latest roles or get in touch with one of our specialist consultants. 

Barcelona's Tech Talent Shortage

Big Data is present in every aspect of our daily lives. Virtually all activities we carry out involve the generation of data; every time you turn on your computer, every search we make, every purchase or subscription online, when we use our mobile phones, each time we pay with our credit card…  This list goes on and often we leave our mark without even realising it. Worldwide, Data companies are aware of the immeasurable value of this information. From improving, predicting and avoiding future developments, to making decisions more effectively and efficiently, reducing costs, and, in short, making things easier and better. Barcelona is no exception. But, like many major cities, demand is far exceeding supply.  A Shortfall of Talent Understandably, crucial to a business’ Data & Analytics success are the professionals in charge of the development of the technologies that gather, transform, analyse and draw conclusions from that Data. Without these professionals the Data has no use, and it is almost impressive how the lack of skilled professionals is affecting this sector in particular.  A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to Barcelona and meet several companies who are leading the global digital transformation. My time there highlighted to me that not only are most of the companies are looking for very similar profiles, but also that they all are struggling to find skilled people to join their projects. Broadly speaking, there are two types of profiles within the Big Data field:  The specialists who put in place the necessary infrastructure to store collected Data. These are purely technical profiles such as Software Developers, Data Engineers, Data Architects, and Programmers.The specialists working on this Data, generating insights and making suggestions in order to make a profit. These profiles are typically more business-oriented such as Data Analysts and Data Scientists.  The recent emergence of these profiles, and their importance in the success of a business has led to a skills short. This has resulted in a real challenge for companies who are looking to adapt and keep at the forefront of technology.  Education, Education, Education How is a booming sector with such a good prospects having such difficulties finding skilled professionals? Are companies looking to hire without considering the real labour market situation? Is it a problem that affects only Spain?  The main reason for the shortage is understandably the rapid growth of the market as a result of a huge increase of Data generation, associated with the increased use of mobile devices. This has brought new demands on a workforce, in particular for specialised profiles and skills, and experts in the latest technologies.   It must be taken into account that a Big Data expert profile, like a Data Engineer or a Data Scientist, barely existed few years ago – therefore training and retraining is fundamental. Given that situation, governments, companies and universities need to be taking measures and establishing agreements in order to provide subsidies, to offer training aids, and to facilitate the access for study and research offering a wider variety of studies and internships programs.  Fortunately, this something that I’m seeing more of now in Spain, in addition to numerous perks like competitive salaries, flexible working, and even working remotely.  Looking Further Afield However, whilst education may help address a shortage in the long term, it still leaves a lack of viable candidates in the present. Barcelona, like many tech hubs, is embracing international candidates with attractive relocation offers and benefits packages. By opening up to the world’s best talent, as well as  continuing to find local stars of the future, the city is cementing itself as a leader of the digital transformation.  If you are currently focused within this area then there are likely to be multiple job opportunities available, with above average salaries. You’ll be able to continue to refine your skills with additional training and likely have the pick of any sector in which you might like to work. Get in touch if you’re considering Barcelona for your next role or take a look at our latest opportunities to discover hundreds of Big Data & Analytics jobs. 

“Disruptive Approaches Are Driving Change” Derek Dempsey On The Fraud Industry: Part Two

This is the second part of our interview with Derek Dempsey, Fraud Analytics Director for FICO. To read the first part click here. How have Data & Analytics impacted the detection, and prevention, of Fraud?  Big Data is interesting. We want to use as much Data as possible but you have to be sure the Data you have is reliable and robust. Bad Data could lead to significant issues for anyone in Fraud detection.  But really, Data & Analytics are the fuel that drives effective Fraud detection. Our world has used these tools very effectively for many years and we have always been at the forefront in the use of new techniques. Effective Fraud detection relies heavily on using the best Data available and the right analytical techniques to extract useful information. Furthermore, it is constantly evolving as more information becomes available.  What impact do you think Machine Learning and AI can have on Fraud prevention and detection?  In the last few years we’ve seen an explosion of new interest and new techniques, with lots of new players coming into the market.  Companies like FICO have been using Machine Learning for Fraud detection for 25 years so this isn't new. What is new is a whole generation of new technologies, new companies and disruptive approaches that have been driving change.  For us, apart from increased competitive pressures, one of the other big changes is that companies have built large Data Science teams and have a bigger appetite to build their own solutions using open source technologies. However, it’s one thing building these great models, it’s another getting them to operate effectively and correctly in the real world. The level of governance that we are subject to is enormous just to make sure that our models perform as they should. This will be a challenge to the newcomers. They are here to stay though, and should drive better performance and better Fraud detection.  Where AI techniques are set to make an impact is in AML and compliance monitoring. These have used rule-based techniques due to regulatory pressures, but it is clear that more advanced techniques are required to provide better detection of money laundering and terrorist financing. However, businesses do require us to provide explainability but regulators are saying the will look favourably on AI usage if it can provide this. The more AI techniques are used, the more this issue of explainability is going to be important.  Why is the development of analytics, tools and techniques so important within different industries? I think domain knowledge of the Data and business will always be important. 'Specialisms' occur and always will. The analytic techniques, the tools and languages can be standard although some are more appropriate for different specialities. However, the differences in Data and business model always results in specialised applications to address this.  For example, something like Card Fraud or AML require techniques that can analyse and process huge volumes of transactions, whereas something like Claims fraud or Application Fraud won't have this requirement and other factors can be more relevant. However, there is little doubt that Financial Services and Telco have actively sought AI technologies while others have been more fearful of so-called 'black box' approaches.  How are Big Data and Data Science tools, such as Hadoop, helping combat Fraud effectively?  There’s no question from an analytics perspective that Python and R are the two languages that Data Scientists are using. But it helps to have specialists in technical skills, such as DevOps and DataOps, to provide the technical expertise that allows them to build models and utilise Data most effectively.  As for Hadoop, it makes sense for Data Scientists to have an understanding, but ultimately I see that skillset as one belonging to the technical specialists. This is why I firmly believe that every Data Science team should have a supporting tech function.   What are the latest technologies helping combat Fraud?  From an analytical perspective there has been a recent focus on graph analytics and network analytics as these can be applied to external Data. These approaches have been around for a while however and are limited to certain types of Fraud. We’re also seeing more unsupervised techniques being used as these do not rely on prior fraud case data so can be applied to a wider set of cases.  Another new area has been adaptivity. This is a model that adapts over time depending on operational feedback from the analysts. Again this is not new but you really need to balance the impact of this new information compared to how the model is currently working and so is very challenging. As long as you can maintain a sufficient degree of explainability you can ensure the process is sufficiently well governed.  There has been a significant move to cloud-based technologies where companies can reduce their implementation and maintenance costs. We are just about to release our new Falcon X platform, which is a cloud-based fraud platform, that will allow clients to use all the FICO capabilities but also allow them to develop their own analytics as well.  I think potentially the biggest change will be the progressive adoption of biometric authentication. SCA is a requirement for all high-value transactions in PSD2 and this requires two-factor authentication from inherence, ownership and knowledge: so something you are, something you have or something you know. I think biometrics will start to play a big role in authentication and, hopefully, will provide much greater identity security.  Another trend I think we may see is the growth of digital IDs. There is already a well-advanced program in the Nordics called BankID and the concept of a digital ID seems inevitable at some point.  Derek spoke to Senior Consultant, Rosalind Madge. Get in touch with Rosalind or take a look at our latest job opportunities here.

“It’s A Responsibility For Us All” Derek Dempsey On The Fraud Industry: Part One

Derek is a Director of Fraud Analytics for leading fraud analytics software provider, FICO. With a background in Philosophy, he is passionate about the application of advanced analytics in furthering the Fraud industry. I recently met with him to discuss the latest Fraud trends, tools and challenges for the industry. Fraud is an ever changing landscape. What trends do you anticipate for the next 12 months and beyond?  It is ever-changing indeed. As other routes are shut down, we will see new Fraud attacks that reflect the changing payments landscape and the continuing shift to digital, mobile and the introduction of new players due to PSD2. For example, we’ve seen a significant shift in card Fraud following the introduction of chip and pin towards card not present or ID Theft and Application Fraud. We’re also seeing Fraudsters using AI to mount ever-more sophisticated attacks.  From a Fraud Detection perspective, this has led to a convergence of Fraud teams towards a more holistic financial crime approach, as well as increasing use of AI techniques alongside requirements for greater explainability.  What are the biggest risk areas for businesses to be aware of?  I’d say one of the main areas is the risk of data breach through hacking and internal leaking.  In terms of cyberattacks, companies may feel that they can address this fairly readily. However, they need to be vigilant as hackers have some very sophisticated techniques at their disposal. FICO have recently introduced some of our AI fraud techniques into the cybersecurity domain to combat this.   However, internal leaking probably causes bigger issues. This is more often due to social engineering than a malicious internal leak but these types of breach are difficult to detect. You need an additional level of control to detect unusual, but permitted, activity and this is challenging.   Financial Service organisations also need to be aware of risk areas associated with new products and services. The proliferation of mobile payments and new account and payment service providers in the new PSD2 ecosystem marks another shift in payment services and this will bring in many new players. However, new products tend to be targeted by professional fraudsters.  So while we all like the greater ease and convenience, anti-Fraud measures need to keep on top of this.  For aspiring Fraud-fighters, what skills do you think are key to being successful in the industry?  It varies really. I got into this because I’d previously been a mathematics lecturer and then did a Master’s in AI and Cognitive Science. Fraud was, and remains, one of the best areas to apply these skills and techniques. Certainly it helps to have a Mathematical or Statistical background, but ultimately a problem-solving mindset is what really matters.  The modern-day Data Scientist needs to be equipped with a range of technical skills to be effective, so it is useful to understand Big Data technologies such as Hadoop and Spark and how to interact with cloud-based services. Python and R have become the key analytical programming languages. Visualisation is also important so its useful to have skills in this as well.  Soft skills are probably not the most important when it comes to Fraud Analytics but communication skills are essential - you need to work in teams and be able to ask questions and provide answers to others. Primarily, you need the ability to interrogate your Data, understand what it actually represents, understand its source and its reliability. And you need to do all this whilst keeping in mind your business objectives. It's well known that Fraudsters are sharing their approaches, so why is the industry not?  There are examples of sharing in industry. In the UK we have CIFAS which is one of the leading organisations for Data sharing and this provides a great service to its affiliated businesses. We have the IFB and other organisations that are based on sharing Data. The introduction of cloud-based technologies should encourage companies to share more and FICO have invested heavily in a cloud-based strategy. The next generation of FICO's flagship Falcon fraud product, Falcon X, is a flexible cloud-based, platform solution.  However, a lot of information is currently held by the commercial sector which limits how much sharing can be done. There are many companies who provide specialised Data on email addresses, devices, IPs but all of this is under a commercial umbrella and companies do need to protect assets that they have built up over many years of research.  But most businesses do support sharing activity and see that that it’s to their benefit and there is definitely a willingness there.  Personally, I would like to see more sharing in terms of guidance, education and awareness to customers. This is a responsibility for all of us in the sector and we need to be more proactive than just leaving information sitting on a website. Companies should be under greater pressure to provide this awareness training and, if they do, I would predict a significant reduction in certain types of fraud.  There were a string of high profile Data breaches in the news last year such as Facebook and Carphone Warehouse. Do you think businesses are doing enough to protect customers? I don't think so. Obviously this something we take this very seriously and, for us, most of the Data we use is anonymised so we already minimise the risk. I know that banks are investing very heavily in this and being proactive as, more than anything, there’s a huge reputational risk to a large-scale Data breach. Other sectors probably need to do more however and all sectors can improve. Hopefully GDPR will make a big difference within the EU. There are large fines for failing to take adequate measures. Other countries are adopting similar legislation and we’re seeing non-EU businesses embrace the same guidelines as well, so hopefully that will help.  If you could change one thing in the industry, what would it be?  I think increasing awareness and education would make a big difference. One company I worked with mounted a big customer campaign and it made a huge impact in driving down Fraud. I think this is an underrated area. I'm aware that the FCA and other industry bodies such as IFB do produce materials but I think much more could be done. It perhaps goes without saying that I also think that increased usage, and better usage, of Data and Advanced Analytics is crucially important to reducing levels of fraud. Derek spoke to Senior Consultant, Rosalind Madge. Get in touch with Rosalind or take a look at our latest job opportunities here.

Harnham Named one of the Sunday Times' Top 100 Companies to Work For

I am thrilled to announce that we've been named one of The Sunday Times' Top 100 Small Companies to Work For 2019.   This is the first year we've been eligible for the award and, fantastically, we've managed to place 26th.   Coming off the back of our three-star accreditation from Best Companies for 'Extraordinary Levels' of workplace engagement, and being named APSCo's Recruitment Company of the Year (£10m-£50m) this is something else for the whole business to be proud of.  Crucially, for both myself and the leadership team, is the fact that this accolade is based entirely on employee feedback. Our success has always been built on the success of our employees and we have always tried to nurture an environment where they can flourish. To be recognised for our efforts. and to know that our staff are happy here, means a tremendous amount to us. And, as ever, we're looking to grow our team. If you're determined, ambitious and driven, get in touch about our latest opportunities. 

3 questions to ask yourself before your next BI hire

Data & Analytics are a vital part of every organisation nowadays, so it is not surprising that the importance of Business Intelligence keeps growing. With increasing demands from executive management, operations, and sales, a stronger and better BI team is essential.  The responsibilities of the BI team include but are not limited to: performing Data validation and Data Analysis, delivering KPI related reports and dashboards, and working with end users to define business requirements and needs. However, as every company is different, every BI department is different as well. This means that from one BI team to another, the needed skills can vary completely. To get the most out of your team, it is important to have a clear understanding of what skills you already have, which skills you need to add with your next hire, and whether this is realistic for your business.  Here are three important questions to ask yourself before your next BI hire:  1) What does your team look like at this moment? To be successful in expanding your team, it is vital to take a closer look at the type of profiles and skillsets you already have. This is a good time to map out where the skills are in your team and see what is lacking, or what can be improved. To do so, you should consider three key elements: how (much) Data is used and made available, how this Data is structured and what is being done with this Data. The following three questions are important here:  Do you get the right Data out of your Datawarehouse/Data Lake? How is the Data structured now, and do you get the reports and dashboards needed?  Are you able to provide stakeholders with the right insights? These questions can function as starting point of deciding what skills you have now, and which areas to focus on with your next BI hire to fill in gaps or improve the areas where needed. 2) What does your Data Roadmap look like?  It is important to have a clear vision of where you want to go with your BI team and how to leverage your Data. At the highest level, your vision will be determined in a Data Strategy. On a more practical, day-to-day level, the steps to take are outlined in a Data Roadmap, with every part of the process requiring a different skillset. 
 What we often see is that companies who are at the start of their Data Roadmap, first hire a Data Analyst. Typically, a Data Analyst knows how to work with the Data and has a strong business sense but is not a specialist in either field. On the other hand, when the Data infrastructure has been set up, the need is higher for someone who can make sense of the Data and present this in reports and dashboards.  Two key points to consider: What is the next step in your Data Roadmap?  What type of skillset is needed to get to that next step? For example, this can be technical skills such as building Data Pipelines or stronger analytical skills to get insights from the Data.  By having a clear understanding what phase of your Data roadmap is next, it will be easier to hire the next member of your team. 3) What is realistic for your business? While you may know what type of profile(s) to hire next, it is important to determine whether this is feasible. The following factors are important to consider: As with every field of expertise, the salary ranges depend on which type of profile you are looking to hire. It is vital here to ask yourself where to invest your money best. For example, it is great to have an Insights Analyst in the team, but is this type of profile the main priority? You might want to first hire a Data Analyst to structure the Data and build useful reports. The candidate market within Data & Analytics is tight, so think about what you can give them in return to attract the best talent. A training program for personal development and the possibility to work flexible hours are two selling points that make your company stand out from the rest.  Location is key for many candidates. Businesses in larger cities are more popular with strong candidates in comparison to more remote businesses.  It is clear, therefore, that multiple factors are involved in determining what your next BI hire should be in terms of skillset and profile.  If you are looking to expand your BI function but not sure where to start, get in touch and I can advise you on the best next steps.  

Thank You, Next: How Machine Learning Is Revolutionising The Way We Make Music

From Vinyl to Tidal; we all know that the way we consume music has changed. Technological advances have made Steve Job’s claim that he would put “1,000 songs in our pockets” seem antiquated, whilst Spotify’s algorithms serve us tracks that we’ll love before we’ve discovered them ourselves.  But can the technologies that have brought us these advancements change the way we make music? Whether it’s leading to new instruments or creating a song without our input, Artificial Intelligence is a game changer.  Make Some Noise Until recently, the best way to imitate a sound was by experimenting with the different settings on a keyboard. However, this is no longer the case, thanks to Google’s research arm Magenta. They’ve created the NSynth Super, an instrument that generates sounds based upon Deep Neural Network techniques.  These algorithms allow the NSynth to not only imitate a sound, but consistently learn more and more about the specificities of that pitch, creating something closer to reality. Users can then combine those individual sounds to create something unique and entirely original. This is potentially just the beginning of a new wave of music, and in a decade’s time the NSynth could end up having as big an impact as autotune.  Talking About AI Generation Whilst we’re still waiting to see the impact of instruments akin to the NSynth, machine-led compositions are becoming more and more commonplace. Using a Recurrent Neural Network (RNN), one can feed a model existing music and ask it to generate something new. By learning the patterns and rhythms of notes from a variety of compositions, the model should be able to output an original and melodical sequence. Although these may not be the most amazing tracks in the world, they do serve a purpose. Music production platform Jukedeck allows users to input their requirements for a piece of music (genre, temp, mood, length, instruments etc.) that can then be automatically generated using AI. Obviously these aren’t designed to be chart hits, but production music that can be purchased cost-efficiently for YouTubers, Short Films and other backing-tracks.   Despite the fact that this remains the most common use of AI in music, some artists are looking to push this even further. Musician Taryn Southern, for example, has created an EP based purely on AI compositions generated using Amper Score. The platform generated a beat, melody and basic structure before Southern then rearranged and added lyrics too. Could this form of collaboration become the future of mainstream music? Rage Against the Machine Learning As with any change, AI’s interruption of the music industry is not without controversy, and there are those who believe that the human contribution is what makes music what it is.  Indeed, there are still several limitations to what AI can achieve creatively. Despite a neural network’s success with creating original compositions, another’s ability to write lyrics was somewhat lacklustre. Despite being trained on a combination of lyrics (for structure), and literature (for vocabulary), its output was largely nonsense and included lines such as “I got monk that wear you good”.   Perhaps, like Southern’s compositions, AI is best used as an accompanying tool. London-based start-up AI Music offer technology that ‘shape-shifts’ songs to adapt to the context in which they’re played. This could be anything from tempo changes to match a listener’s speed to remastering tracks to appeal to different moods and situations. IBM’s Watson Beat, on the other hand, creates compositions that naturally fit to the visuals of a video. In this context, as within many other industries, AI looks set to support our existing skillsets rather than replace jobs.  Whether you’re looking to create collaborative technologies or revolutionise an industry, we may have a role for you. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our specialist consultants to find out more.

Why Should Data Professionals Move To The Netherlands?

You might only know the Netherlands for its windmills, amazing cheese and coffee shops, but there is so much more than meets the eye.  It might be a small country, but the Netherlands is a booming tech hub. As more and more world leading companies move their headquarters to Amsterdam, and innovative start-ups settle in, it’s the perfect time to get in on the action. Here’s why the Netherlands could be right for you.  You’re welcome in the Netherlands  The Netherlands is a small country and, thus, a very close community. But we’re very used to people  from abroad and so we have a very inclusive approach to them, especially when it comes to our national celebrations. Take King’s Day at the end of April, where the entire country celebrates the birthday of the King in all orange style. It’s my favourite day of the year and there is plenty to get involved with around the city.  Another great thing about moving to the Netherlands is that it is not necessary to learn Dutch to feel included. English is spoken throughout the country, and every day I speak to many non-Dutch candidates. In fact, I think 80 percent of the candidates I have worked with weren’t born in the Netherlands, and there is a big community of expats; perfect for someone moving from abroad to settle in.  You’ll have a great work-life balance  If you’re looking for an awesome work-life balance, then the Netherlands is the best country in Europe. It has some of the shortest working hours on the continent, an informal culture and a huge emphasis on life outside of the office. Part-time employment is common and our flexible freelance culture sees many entrepreneurs working from their local café instead of being stuck in an office. Dutch people value home time as much as work time and, typically, both parents tend to spend a lot of time with their kids.  Our culture is very ‘gezellig’, if you know what I mean. No? Well, Gezellig is my favourite Dutch word and, when I am back home, I use it all the time. There is no direct translation for it, but it’s the best way to describe the Dutch lifestyle. Meaning cosy friendliness (similar to hygge in Danish), gezellig is one of the loveliest things about life in Holland. From the snug tiny brown cafés and super modern bistros, to spending time at home with your loved ones - being gezellig is central to Dutch life.  Also, let’s not forget that the Netherlands is the country with the best biking infrastructure in the world. In fact, we have more bikes than people! No matter what the weather conditions are, Dutch people cycle everywhere.  You’ll have the chance to work for amazing companies  Although the Netherlands did not manage to qualify for the football World Cup last year, the Dutch are clearly becoming one of the finest players in Europe’s technology industry. I have seen a lot of tech companies begin to move over, with some even relocating their headquarters, such as Booking.com and Sony. The technology-driven city that Amsterdam has become has made it a popular area for start-ups as well, with so much good tech talent making it even more attractive for companies to settle there.  You’ll be earning good money  The Netherlands is one of the most developed countries in the world and the Dutch government offer a great amount of support to those moving there to work. To attract highly skilled migrants, expats can apply for a 30 percent tax break scheme: an amazing benefit! The government also helps small businesses grow by offering tax breaks. The Dutch property market is a complex one but, like any other big city, location is everything. Cities like London or Oslo are a lot more expensive to live in than Amsterdam, where there are loads of up and coming neighbourhoods. These hubs are where you’ll find tech start-ups locating their businesses and are fun, modern, and affordable places to live. The Netherlands has quickly become the place to live and work for people in the Data & Analytics market. Amsterdam, with its amazing variety of tech companies, in particular, is booming. And, with an excess of ‘gezelligheid’, great tax breaks, and a wonderful work-life balance, it could well be the perfect place for your next step.  Want to become part of it? We are recruiting for various Data & Analytics roles in the Netherlands. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with me to find out more. 

Diversity in Data & Analytics: Harnham's 2019 Report

We're pleased to announce the launch of our 2019 Diversity in Data & Analytics report.  Using feedback from over 1,600 respondents, the report features commentary on how different ages, ethnicities and minorities are represented within the industry. You can download your copy here. Kat Heague, one of our Partners, comments: “The business case for a diverse workforce is clear - research has continuously proven that diverse teams yield better results A diverse workforce creates a more holistic business; one filled with more innovative products and services, in addition to creating a more stimulating, enjoyable and challenging environment for individuals to thrive in. In order to remain competitive in attracting and retaining the best skills in the market, businesses must explore ways to accommodate and support a diverse range of talent.” If you have any thoughts on our findings, or ideas for what you'd like to see in the future, please contact us at feedback@harnham.com.

Harnham Achieve Best Companies' 3 Star Accreditation

We are delighted to announce that Best Companies has awarded Harnham a 3 Star accreditation, their highest standard of workplace engagement. Presented only to organisations that truly excel, the accreditation reflects 'extraordinary' levels of workplace engagement. As a business who dedicates a lot of effort towards our employees’ wellbeing and development, we’re incredibly pleased to see that our team remains incredibly engaged. This is only our first year of participating in this survey, so to achieve such a high score reflects how highly we value our workforce.  Following a recent run of award wins, including being named APSCo’s Recruitment Company of the Year £10m-£50m and LinkedIn’s 6th Most Socially Engaged Staffing Agency (out of 38,000), we’re excited to see what the remainder of 2019 holds for Harnham. If you’d like to work for us, take a look at our Internal Recruitment area or email joinus@harnham.com.

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Recruiter

As a recruiter I’ve had some great relationships with candidates over the years. I view these relationships like partnerships and an ideal partnership is one where communication is natural and transparent.  Some partnerships have worked better than others, and I’ve seen some common denominators in the ones that work (and the ones that don’t). Let me preface this with one thing:  We want to help you get the job.   However, we are working with specific guidelines and role requirements. Sometimes that means we have to give feedback to you and let you know that you’re not qualified or you’re not exactly what our client is looking for.  When I give this kind of feedback it is because we are trying to help you streamline your efforts towards processes that you will nail, and ultimately get you a job that you’re happy with. If you’re looking for your next job and would like to collaborate with a recruiter, my biggest tip would be that in order to get the most out of you recruiter you should: BE HONEST About your salary expectations Salary can be a taboo subject. As your recruiter we need to know what salary you would be happy with because our clients have a budget that they need to stick to. By being open about what your current earnings are, and what you’d like to earn in your next role, we can make sure you don’t get an offer which is ultimately too low for you. Be 100% honest about your ambitions and current levels, and we will advocate for you all the way. About your current role and responsibilities When we chat, I’ll often ask a lot of questions and try to get a lot of detail. Speaking to a recruiter can feel like an interview, but we’re not trying to trip you up. We’re trying to find out what you’re doing right now – all of it. Not because your next job is going to be the same, but because we need to find out how transferrable what you’re doing right now is to our client and if you’re able to take on a new set of skills.  We also use this conversation to assess your communication skills, and if you’re unable to explain what your current role involves then we can work together on your interviewing technique. About other processes that you’re in Sometimes when I ask candidates about their other processes they feel uncomfortable. If you’re working with another recruiter or if you’ve already applied directly to one of my clients, that’s okay but I need to know so I can: Find out if you have impending offers that my clients should know about. Understand which roles you’ve been targeting and thus which types of businesses you naturally felt inclined to pursue (maybe I have similar roles at similar companies). Help you with time management and ensure you can prepare accordingly.  Avoid accidentally meddling in an existing process that you’re already in through a speculative conversation. 
About reasons you’re looking for opportunities Tell your recruiter why you’re on the market, so that we can make sure you’re not on the market again for the same reason in six months. That means you need to be honest about why you’re leaving! How else can I make sure that we’re alleviating your current frustrations? For example: Hate your manager? That’s too bad! What management style would you prefer? Do you want to learn a new skill? Let me find out which of my clients can help you. Looking for a more senior role? Which responsibilities would you like to have  Passionate about getting into driverless cars? I won’t tell you about my retail roles! Just curious? Absolutely fine – but that means we need to discuss the root of your curiosity in more detail so that we don’t talk about every job from here to the moon. The list goes on but the more detail I have, the more efficient I can be in selecting the right role based on your motivations. About your interview experience I’m not looking for one-liners when I ask about your most recent interview. I want to know how you're feeling, what you learnt, and more. Did the interview leave something to be desired? OK, how can I help you get your hands on it? If you already know you don’t want this job, that’s absolutely fine. But it would be great to know why so we can avoid similar situations.  Maybe you feel like you underwhelmed the interviewer and that you should have answered something differently? I can be your messenger after the fact, so you have another chance to get your message across. Ultimately, recruiters are here to support you through a stressful process. We want to make your search easier by being your agent. To make sure we are able to represent you to the best of our ability, we need a great candidate/recruiter relationship, a relationship that is honest and transparent.  As I mentioned at earlier, ultimately, we just want you to find the right role for you. If you’re looking for a role and would like to partner with a recruiter, take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch. 

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