With more and more professionals turning to freelancing, it can often feel like you’re getting into a confusing new reality. It sometimes feels as though there’s a vast horizon of potential work on offer, yet also an impossible mountain to climb when it comes to getting your foot in the door.Having consistent freelance work that pays well is often touted as something to struggle and strive for – a hard-won prize for only the most determined freelancer. Yet even top level marketing agencies offer work that’s both attainable and engaging to get into, if you know where to look and how best to tailor your approach.Why in-house agency work worksAs a freelancer, whatever your niche or specialism, you’ve likely had to spend at least half of your aggregated professional time pitching your talent to companies – and at worst, having to prove years of experience and knowledge from scratch.Marketing and advertising agencies already have the work pitched and prepped to go – they just need it completed. And just as many of your own freelance projects might have sometimes been a mad scramble to the finish line, even the biggest of agencies sometimes brush up against steep deadlines or surges of work they need talent like yours to complete to their high standards.Unlike brands you might work with directly, agencies are typically far less hit or miss with paying on time, too. While exceptions exist, agencies work with freelancers often enough to know how much they appreciate timely payment, delivered free of hassle.Getting agencies to notice your skillsBigger agencies often receive numerous approaches and emails from freelancers daily, all hungry for the kind of consistent and well paid work these companies can provide. As you can appreciate, standing out from the crowd is key here.As always, you can let your portfolio do a lot of the talking, tweaking it the same way you might tweak a resume. Adjust what it shows to ensure it always works as a highlight reel of your greatest achievements.How do you recognize what those big achievements are? Try to take the perspective of the agency you’re trying to befriend. Don’t just focus on how long you worked with a client, or even how big a deal that company was in its respective industry (although big brands definitely help plump up your portfolio). Instead, consider the story behind certain moments of success.Did you develop the UX for a client who’s since gone from strength to strength in their industry? Did you write the copy that’s at the heart of a resurgent local business’s marketing campaign? Did you code the backend of a web page that’s since won business in abundance for a financial firm?It’s about selling your storyConsider the benefits of the work you’ve accomplished so far. Communicate to the agency how this same set of skills can be put to their advantage, and – where possible – tie that to campaigns or current projects you know they’re involved in, or niche experience that you know sets you apart from the market.New to freelancing? Not a problem. Communicate your openness to learn and gain valuable experience by aligning with the needs of the business, and even demonstrate some of your own passion projects to highlight your skills.Don’t feel let down by an initial ‘no’, either – get back in touch a few months down the line. Much like you, agencies run in peaks and troughs of business, and some times of a given year simply won’t need external help versus others. It’s nothing personal.That thorny money talkEven the most seasoned freelancers often feel as though their fees and service costs are calculated almost on the fly, and it can feel impossible to know whether the price you set is one your prospective client is going to crinkle their nose at.It’s daunting to know that other people likely want to be having the negotiations you’re having in the moment, and that can elicit panic. And of course, you can feel tempted to rock-bottom your rates to win the day — a practice rarely worth doing if you want respect and reasonable revenue.Many agencies will have set rates and some leeway to negotiate – remember that your talent is essentially a budgetary consideration in that agency’s current campaign or project, and they have their own criteria to fill. Agencies who understand what makes freelancers tick and the value they add, of course, will have set rates that are on the generous side.Those who seem to offer far below the mark, and seem to vaguely hint that your talent could be replaced by any number of other people, are rarely worth too much of your time. Sure, they’re right in saying there are dozens of freelancers they can turn to – but that agency is far from the only game in town themselves, and fabricating a scarcity mentality to get you along for the ride won’t do them any favors, nor you. You’re as free to consider other options as they are.It’s good practice to establish early on the expected timeframe of payments to arrive – weekly, biweekly, monthly and so forth. The best agencies pay well and fast, but some prefer the NET 30 approach of rolling out payments after 30 days have elapsed – something to consider as you plan ahead.Being a team player, albeit not a team memberThere’s much talk in recent times of how the lines between on-site self employed individual and traditional employee are becoming ever more blurred. In the UK, for instance, this confusing gray area is being tackled ever more stringently with IR35 taxation rules, but the same fogginess seems to be the norm wherever you lookWithin that gray area, some agencies and other clients will treat you as an employee in all but name, but avoid making it official simply to avoid contributing to your taxes, pension and so forth. In purely pragmatic terms, this may be because it simply makes no sense for them to take on a formal new employee for, say, a three-month project or a brief flurry of intense activity.However, it’s also important that you ensure you know your own rights and boundaries. For example, although many agencies are happy for you to work on their premises, you aren’t beholden to do so as a freelancer. That said, there’s no reason to be a diva either. By all means offer your own insights on things you’ve learned over your career to not only enhance your client’s experience of working with you, but also increase your value in their eyes – alongside the potential of repeat business in the future.Knowing your limits Expected hours or availability for work are not unreasonable to ask of you, and likewise, if you work on-site you’re expected to treat the facilities and amenities well. However, keep in mind that that boundary between you and the rest of the team will be there, subconsciously, when you are on the agency’s premises – and in the worst cases this can leave you feeling isolated and shut out.A good agency will communicate to its employees who you are and why you are on-site, as well as what is and isn’t being asked of you – and in best case scenarios, they might extend a few perks or staff gatherings your way too. At worst, you might feel as though you’re working in an information silo among teams who have all established their own cliques, with no interest in getting to know you. That said, at least you have the home office option, if this becomes an issue – but it’s better to address these concerns in open communication.Come project’s end, evaluate your experiencesAgency work often comes thick and fast, and then all at once a project will end as rapidly as it seemed to barrel ahead just a short time ago. Agencies move fast, and it can leave you with little time or room in your mind to evaluate whether you found the experience of working with them worthwhile.Honestly discuss what future, if any, exists between you and the agency, but remember that the future isn’t certain. Again, the best agencies will have kept you in the loop about their game plan going forward, and whether it has a place for you as campaigns unfold. This helps you plan your own forward strategy in kind, and of course, having established good workplace friendships and team bonds, will make your likelihood of being invited to contribute in the future that much more likely.Keep an open mind, but also remember your worth, and you’ll find that the most professional marketing agencies around are engaging and courteous to work with. Don’t feel intimidated in making an approach towards them, and likewise, use these opportunities to keep building your network and portfolio — as well as that all important financial success and security. This might just be some of the most rewarding work in your freelance career.
Databases comprise one of the largest and most foundational segments of the IT landscape—in some cases, comprising over 50 percent of the cost of the total application stack. The size and prominence of this segment continues to expand unfettered. Recent estimates from Gartner peg the database market at $36.4 billion, having grown 8.6 percent in 2016. Investment in new database technologies and platforms continues to flourish. CBInsights reports that the database market segment has garnered an average of three funding rounds adding up to over $44 million in each of the last twenty quarters. Open source projects have further contributed to the proliferation of database management systems (DBMS), comprising over 7 percent of the overall market. This flurry of investment and innovation may suggest that this segment is an emerging segment; that is certainly not the case. Rather, the database market is rapidly evolving and one may define the arc of its evolution in two distinct waves. The first wave was the growth and dominance of relational database offerings from the likes of Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, and SAP. The second wave, which began to pick up momentum about 10 years ago, includes non-relational offerings such as NoSQL and Hadoop and has ushered in a surge of new vendors and innovation. The database popularity ranking compiled monthly by DB-Engines now covers more than 300 DBMSs, but this market is likely to morph to a more sustainable dynamic with significant consolidation and a clear definition of the winners.There’s no doubt that the database market is experiencing a feverish rate of change and growth. But what’s driving this change? And how are database vendors responding to these drivers in order to remain relevant and survive the coming consolidation? To answer these questions, let’s take a closer look at the core dynamics currently at play—and how these forces are shaping the future of the database market.Data explosion is unstoppable. IDC forecasts that by 2025 the global datasphere will grow to 163 zettabytes, 10x the number in 2016. And while this data explosion is delivering unprecedented user experiences and business opportunities, it is also delivering unprecedented challenges in data storage and access that must be overcome with new database technology.Real-time performance is a business imperative. Analysts estimate that, in less than 10 years, more than a quarter of data created will be real-time in nature. Additionally, in a world where everything is connected, it is estimated that our interactions with real-time data will grow, with the average rate per capita of data-driven interactions increasing 20-fold over the next 10 years. Enterprises will not be able to survive without the ability to harness this real-time data; not only to deliver highly personalized experiences to end users, but also to extract up-to-the-moment business insights for internal decision-making processes.NoSQL database platforms define the path forward. Cloud native applications drove demand for scale-out architectures (versus traditional scale-up models). Development overhead associated with maintaining relational schemas became too rigid and inefficient, hence the shift to the schema on read approach, which doesn’t require that a schema be defined upfront. This need for scalability and flexibility in data schemas, along with overall ease of data management, are the primary drivers for the growth of the NoSQL DBMS segment. Unstructured data has already surpassed total structured data generated globally and this trajectory will not change; NoSQL will be the primary DBMS platform, solving increasing numbers of data management challenges. A report by Sumologic published in November of 2016 showed that two of the top three databases on AWS are NoSQL.In-memory databases take mainstage. High throughput (reaching and sometime exceeding a million ops/sec) and low latency (sub-milliseconds in many cases) demands on databases are becoming commonplace. So too are the increasing number of hybrid use cases incorporating transactions and analytics in conjunction with one another. The only way to tackle this level of complexity while still maintaining a high level of performance is to manage data in RAM. With the continued price drop in memory and innovations, in-memory databases are penetrating the market at an unprecedented pace—recent projections put this segment at $7B by 2020. Companies like Intel, Samsung and IBM have introduced new persistent memory technologies which are accelerating the cost reduction curve, making in-memory databases even more attractive.DBaaS is not a fad. Gartner projects that, by 2018, more than 70% of new DBMS deployments will leverage the cloud for at least one use case. Given the acceleration of workloads shifting to the cloud and the fact that the vast majority of new applications are cloud native, this is clearly the new normal. Early trepidations related to security, data governance, and other perceived cloud vulnerabilities have been superseded by the tremendous value proposition of the cloud which brings the benefits of pay-as-you-go pricing, elimination of talent related constraints, reduction in resource requirements, scalability, and ultimate flexibility. As a result, almost all DBMS vendors are now moving to offer their platforms in the DBaaS (Database as a Service) deployment model. Open source is mandatory. The BOSS Index, created to track the growth of open-source software, credits five of its chosen top 15 OSS projects to the DBMS market. Since 2014, the collective revenue of these open-source DBMS vendors has nearly doubled. Having a large community of developers to drive innovation, cultivate a talent pool, continuously expand the ecosystem and its use cases, advocate for the value proposition, and spread the knowledge base through formal training and apprenticeship, is critical for the long term sustainability of any database platform.Understanding the above dynamics can help DBMS platform providers define a successful roadmap. One that should be sure to include open source support, developer affinity, seamless scalability, high performance, schema flexibility, multi-model support, native cloud architecture that additionally supports on-premises and hybrid deployments, storage extensibility, and skills availability.As the mega vendors, particularly public cloud providers such as AWS, GCP, and Azure, broaden their offerings and strengthen their investments in the dbPaaS approach, we should expect to see several vendors drop out of the market. Others will remain afloat with venture funding, but will be unable to capture critical mass and cross the chasm. Still others will be acquired by mega vendors or execute mergers of equals. And a tiny number of ventures, likely around 5, will experience the adequate market success to support profitable stand-alone existences. It is clear that no matter how large a market segment may be, eventual maturity, customer acceptance, self-selection, and execution excellence in the face of ever-evolving challenges will lead to stratification between the winners and everyone else.