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Quarterly Job Market Update Across Canada for Q2 2017

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
Chairman of the Board at Eagle

General Observations About the Canadian Job Market

Canadian Job Market Quarterly Update Across Canada

The unemployment rate at the end of the first quarter was 6.5%, an improvement over the 6.7% unemployment rate at the end of the last quarter.  During the previous 12 months, Canada added 351,000 jobs (almost 250,000 full time).

For the purposes of this report I focus on the TSX and during the second quarter it slipped about 400 points from 15,600 to around 15,200.

Oil CanThe oil patch continues to struggle, and while the price of a barrel has been in and around the $50 a barrel range, it actually finished the second quarter down in the $45 range.  The foreign investment money that exited the Canadian oil patch is unlikely to return unless there is a significant shift in political support for this sector.  Even the approval of some pipelines has not generated the positive job impact it might have done a couple of years ago.

Canadian DollarThe Canadian dollar had seemed to be settled around the 75c US level, but during Q2 edged up to 77c. (It should be noted that post Q2 an interest rate increase has driven the Canadian dollar even higher.  It remains to be seen whether the increased cost of borrowing will have a negative impact on the Canadian economy.)

There is little change in the banking sector, which is one of the bigger employers in Canada.  The talent demands for the banks address areas such as regulatory changes, new product development, new service offerings and addressing the aging workforce.  On the other side, new technology and offerings also displaces some of the roles traditionally found at the banks.  The banks remain a good place to find employment, but increasingly the skills needed are specialised.

Telecommunications

The telecommunications sector is another large employer in Canada.  Like the banks, this sector is operating in an environment affected by new technological change, demographic pressures and regulatory change in addition to extreme competition.  While they demand the best talent in order to compete, they are also careful about keeping employment costs under control, particularly as they are also acquisitive, which can mean a big focus on integration of acquired companies.  Some of the drivers of demand here include the highly competitive nature of the business, investment in infrastructure, technological innovation and a need to plan for a retiring “Boomer” workforce.

The US economy continues to add jobs in significant numbers, averaging more than 200,000 jobs a month over the last quarter.  The demand for skills in the US is luring talent from Canada which is good for the individuals but not so good for Canada in the long term.

The demand for the “trades” continues unabated, as the construction industry seems to be forever busy.  Cranes dot the skies of Canada’s largest cities, and home renovation projects are hard to staff!

The three levels of government in Canada are big employers.  Municipal, provincial and Federal governments employ a lot of people.  Under the current Liberal administration the Federal workforce has grown significantly, with about 150,000 employees.   All levels of government are dealing with the issue of retiring “boomers”, among the executive ranks in particular.   The pensions are so lucrative that large numbers of civil servants are eligible for, and invariably take, retirement at a very early age.  This will create opportunity for new jobs, but will also result in a significant brain drain from our government.

The Canadian Staffing Index is an indicator of the strength of the largest provider of talent in any economy (the staffing industry) and an excellent barometer of the health of Canada’s economy. The reading at the end of the second quarter was 110, which was unchanged from the first quarter.  The reading is not adjusted and so is affected by number of available working hours etc.  Having said that, the indication is a positive one.

Eagle LogoHere at Eagle, we experienced consistent demand from our clients in the the first six months of 2017.  This is a positive indicator given that demand represents a 25% increase in demand over the fourth quarter of 2016. Eagle did see a big increase in people looking for work in the first quarter (20%) and the second quarter saw another increase of 16%.  There could be many factors at play, but one that we are seeing is both an increased demand for contract talent and an increased interest in the gig economy by professionals.

Regional Job Markets Across Canada

TorontoThe Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is Eagle’s busiest region, representing about 60% of our business.  It is also the 4th largest city in North America, containing more than 50% of Canadian head offices and with a population of approximately six (6) million.  This market continues to be one of the busiest markets in Canada, and we see strong demand from our clients for skilled talent.  There is some concern that new legislation from the Ontario Government (Bill 148) will have a negative effect on the temporary help market in particular.

CalgaryWestern Canada continues to be most impacted by the woes in the oil patch, but there are some positive indicators.  The oil patch has settled into its “new normal” and continues to employ a lot of people, albeit nowhere near the highs of the boom times.  The various levels of government are working hard to replace some of those jobs by attracting new industries, such as technology companies, offering educated and affordable workforces, especially compared to Silicon Valley and more affordable and yet attractive lifestyles. The Conference Board expects Alberta to be the fastest growing province in Canada for 2017.  The BC housing market has been affected by recently introduced legislation to curb foreign investment and a minority government will mean less affective decision making and an uncertain economy.

OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”.  Ottawa is very much a government town again, although there are some smaller tech companies rising from the ashes of Nortel, JDS and the previously large tech sector. The government continues to employ a lot of people (22,000 more in The NCR since the Liberal government took office) but the unemployment rate in Ottawa rose steadily in the second quarter. Quebec leads the country in job gains, and have improved their unemployment rate to 6% and added 122,000 jobs in the last 12 months.  The Maritime Provinces continue to struggle to create employment and we don’t expect much change there.

Top Skills Demanded from Eagle’s Clients

At Eagle our focus in on professional staffing and the people in demand from our clients have been fairly consistent for some time.  Program Managers, Project Managers and Business Analysts always seem to be in demand. It might just be our focus, but Change Management and Organizational Excellence resources are in relatively high demand too. Digital, big data, data scientists, analytics, CRM, web (portal and self-serve) and mobile expertise (especially developers) are specializations that we are seeing more and more. On the Finance and Accounting side, we see a consistent need for Financial Analysts, Accountants with designations and public accounting experience plus Controllers as a fairly consistent talent request. Expertise in the Capital markets, both technical and functional, tends to be a constant ask in the GTA.  Technology experts with functional expertise in Health Care is another skill set that also sees plenty of demand.  This demand fluctuates based on geography and industry sectors, so we advise candidates to watch our website and apply for the roles for which they are best suited.

Outside of Eagle’s realm some of the in-demand skills include the classic tradespeople, drivers, and new tech skills like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, video gaming skills etc.

Summary

Canada added 351,000 jobs in the last year which is good news for today’s job seekers.  Forecasters are optimistic for the next twelve months, in fact the Bank of Canada just raised interest rates sparking a recovery for the Canadian dollar.  If we can keep new legislation (CASL at the Federal level, and Bill 148 in Ontario would be just two examples) from hurting job growth then we should enjoy a period of growth.

For job seekers there are bright spots, caused by demographic shifts (retiring Baby Boomers), jobs moving to Canada from more expensive places like Silicon Valley and companies developing new technologies.  The large employers, such as banking sector, insurance sector, retail sector, telecommunications sector and the construction industry will always require large workforces representing job opportunity. The growth of the “gig economy” creates new opportunities for people to define their own destiny and become mini-entrepreneurs, or build new enterprises.

The effect of US policy changes by the Trump administration remain to be seen.  Having said that, early indicators could see immigration (positive for Canada); trade agreements & protectionist policies (possibly negative for Canada); and defense (possibly negative for Canada) all having some impact.

Job seekers should research and understand the growing sectors and where the in-demand jobs are.  They also need to be willing to go where the work is!  If I was looking for work I would be moving to the larger centres, investing in in-demand skills and increasing my marketability with the right “attitude”.

That was my look at the Canadian job market for the second quarter of 2017 and some of its influences.

IT Industry News for June 2017

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
Chairman of the Board at Eagle

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000-foot look at events in the ICT industry for June 2017. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of June in previous years

Five years ago, in June 2012, Microsoft’s $1.2 billion purchase of Yammer was the big deal of the month. Salesforce paid $689 million for Buddy Media; Google reputedly paid $100 million for Meebo; Facebook bought facial recognition company Face.com; and Oracle bought “social intelligence” company Collective Intellect. Another “buy” of interest to us at Eagle was the reputedly 7-figure purchase of Bullhorn by Vista Equity Partners (Bullhorn is Eagle’s front office software).

In June 2013, Salesforce.com purchased marketing technology company ExactTarget for $2.5 billion, which was the big buy of the month. Other acquisitions included Irish mobile company Three’s purchase O2 Ireland for $780 million; SanDisk paid $307 million for SMART Storage Systems; Cisco bought Composite Software for $180 million; IBM bought cloud company SoftLayer Technologies; and Buytopia.ca was on a spree with six acquisitions in that year.

June 2014 included some significant deals announced with Oracle paying $5 billion for Micros Systems; Sandisk paid $1.1 billion for solid state storage company Fusion-io. Google continued its push into home automation, witnessed by its subsidiary Nest paying $550 million for cloud-based home monitoring service Dropcam. Google itself paid $500 million for Skybox Imaging, a satellite maker to enhance the Google Maps capability. Twitter paid $100 million for mobile marketing platform Tap Commerce and Red Hat paid $95 million for eNovance.

In June 2015, Intel paid $16.7 billion for semiconductor company Altera Corp. Cisco paid $635 million for security firm OpenDNS in addition to picking up OpenStack company, PistonCloud Computing. Microsoft bought 6Wunderkinder, maker of task management app Wunderlist; Ricoh Canada bought Graycon Group, a professional services firm headquartered in Calgary; and finally, IBM bought OpenStack company Blue Box Group.

June 2016 was certainly an interesting month, with the Brexit vote upsetting the markets and causing uncertainty that will likely continue for some time yet; and there was plenty of M&A activity. The big deal was undoubtedly the Microsoft purchase of LinkedIn for a whopping $2.6 billion. There were other billion dollar deals that month too, Salesforce paid $2.8 billion for e-commerce platform maker Demandware and Amazon announced an extra $3 billion investment in its India operations. Other significant deals included Daetwyler Holdings AG paying more than $877 million for Raspberry Pi maker Premier Farnell Plc; Red Hat paid $568 million for API management software company 3Scale; and OpenText paid $315 million for HP’s Customer Communication Management products. Other noteworthy deals included an investment group’s purchase of Dell’s software arm; Microsoft bought natural language start up Wand Labs; and Samsung bought cloud computing company Joyent. Also, Google Capital announced its first investment in a public company, investing $46 million in Care.com, an online personal services marketplace platform.

Which brings us back to the present

June 2017

The largest deal of the month was Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion or $42 a share. Westcon-Comstar’s American business is being bought by Synnex for approximately $800 million. US fintech provider, Fiserv purchased British financial services technology firm, Monitise for $88.7 million. Microsoft has purchased Israli cloud startup, Cloudyn, for a price between $50 million and $70 million. Rackspace has acquired TriCore in an effort to increase Rackspace’s business from customers who want help running their critical applications. Ebix Inc. has entered into a joint venture with Essel Group. while acquiring a majority stake in ItzCash for $120 million.

Travis Kalanick, founder and CEO of Uber, resigned due to investor pressure as a result of various scandals and setbacks throughout the organization. Google is being fined $3.575 by the European Commission for breaking antitrust rules.

That’s what caught my eye over the last month, the full edition will be available soon on the Eagle website. Hope this was useful and I’ll be back with the July 2017 industry news in just about a month’s time.

Walk Fast and Smile.

Don’t Be a Luddite

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
Chairman of the Board at Eagle

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on May 18th, 2017

John Maxwell quote about changeDuring the industrial revolution the Luddites opposed change and fought against the notion that machines would be used to get around labour laws.

The term Luddite today is used to describe anyone who opposes automation and new technologies.

We are on the cusp of another breakthrough, similar in impact to the industrial evolution or the information technology age, and along with all of the benefits, it will spawn the next generation of Luddites.

This evolution will see Artificial Intelligence in many forms, impact our lives.

  • Jobs will be lost in the same way that typing pools were replaced by word processing technology.
  • The Internet of Things will come with the smarts to effect our daily lives in ways we can only begin to understand.
  • Robots and robotics will also advance with AI smarts to preform more complex tasks than previously thought possible.

We will continue to be impacted by the effects of globalisation, including the offshoring of jobs, the access to goods produced in low cost environments and the ability of entrepreneurs to enter foreign markets easily and quickly through the internet.

We are experiencing a huge change in the way we work.  The retiring boomers leave a big gap to fill and there are not enough people in Western countries to fill those gaps.  Skilled talent is in demand (the #1 concern of CEOs worldwide) and progressive countries are finding ways to attract this talent.  There is a growth in self employment, evidenced with the gig economy and the many enabling technologies that make this possible.  People work from home, and jobs are shared more often than ever.

“It is not necessary to change.  Survival is not mandatory.”  W Edward Deming

So … how are we to respond in an era of such change?

Here are some thoughts:

  1.  Change is inevitable.  Fighting change is like trying to hold back the tide.  Embrace change and find a way to make it work for you.
  2. The industrial revolution ultimately resulted in more jobs, a better standard of living and better work conditions.
  3. Factors that will work in favor of job opportunity include:
    • the impact of demographics that will create job shortages,
    • the new economy jobs requiring more tech skills and
    • the opening of global markets that any company can now access.
  4. The way to protect yourself in this new world is not to fight change, but rather to invest in your skills.  Get “in demand” skills which might include any profession or trade and develop great soft skills, or better yet get involved with emerging technologies.
  5. In a world where we will see more and more shortages of talent, companies will hire for attitude first, and skills second.  Do you have a positive attitude and strong work ethic?  Find experience that will prove these assets!
  6. Companies need to be profitable in order to survive, so make sure that you are important to your employer.  Just putting in time will not make you a “keeper”.

With change comes opportunity.  I believe that this amount of change is going to create a ton of opportunity.

I also believe that it will not fall in our lap … and it will be easy to be left behind.

So … invest in yourself and learn new skills.

“The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.”  Charles Kettering

Do NOT become the modern day Luddite, but rather focus on the opportunities.

Do You Have a Plan?

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
Chairman of the Board at Eagle

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on April 1st, 2017

Goals quote by NightingaleGoals can make a big difference in your life.

If you have no real plan for your life then here are a few thoughts for you.

  1. If you don’t know where you are going, then you might not like where you end up.
  2. If you have trouble defining where that end point should be, or what it looks like, then pick a point along the way! e.g. If you don’t know what your career will look like in 10 years, then decide where you would like to be in a year.
  3. Aim big. If you shoot for the stars you might not get there, but you will go a long way towards them. If you aim for the roof, you might not even get there!

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”   Bruce Lee

  1. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! So … plan your strategy for success in small bits, it will make it easier to achieve.
  2. Review your plans regularly, make sure you are tracking to plan and adjust accordingly.
  3. Get help! Find a mentor/mentors, people that will help you.
  4. Treat your life seriously … you only get one shot! So, make sure you do what you want with it … and make sure you enjoy it!
  5. Fact: Hard work and good planning will get you a LONG way! If you apply some smarts to that formula you will rock the world!

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”  Nelson Mandela

  1. Its not all about you! Sometimes you get more by giving. You will need to figure this out for yourselves, but my advice is to “give” as much as you can.
  2. Every day is the start of the rest of your life, if you are late starting on your journey that’s OK. Just start!

“I do know that when I am 60, I should be attempting to achieve different personal goals than those which had priority at age 20.”  Warren Buffett

Goals don’t have to be hard … but you really should have some.

“To live a fulfilled life, we need to keep creating the “what is next”, of our lives. Without dreams and goals there is no living, only merely existing, and that is not why we are here.”  Mark Twain

Quarterly Job Market Update Across Canada – First Quarter 2017

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
Chairman of the Board at Eagle

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on April 20th, 2017

Canadian Job MarketGeneral Observations:

The unemployment rate at the end of the first quarter was 6.7%, an improvement over the 6.9% unemployment rate at the end of the last quarter.  During the previous 12 months Canada added 276,000 jobs.

The stock market continues to be relatively volatile, but perhaps that is the new norm.  For the purposes of this report I focus on the TSX and it has enjoyed a reasonable period of growth ending the first quarter of 2017 at around 15,600 points.  This was up slightly from a reading of 15,300 at the end of last quarter.

Oil canThe oil patch has settled a little, but that isn’t a great news story.  With the price of a barrel hovering around the $50 a barrel range there is a still a conservative approach to adding jobs.  There has been some exodus of foreign money from the oil patch, allowing Canadian companies to increase their property holdings.  While in some ways that is good, it is an indicator that the big players are investing their money in more business friendly jurisdictions.  Even the approval of some pipelines has not generated the positive job impact it might have done a couple of years ago.

Canadian dollar the LoonieThe Canadian dollar seems to be settled around the 75c US level for now, which is where it was last quarter.  While there are some small benefits of a weak Canadian dollar, including positive impact on tourism, overall it is a negative for the Canadian economy and thus for job creation.

The banking sector is one of the bigger employers in Canada, and the Canadian banks have fared well this year with their stock prices riding high.  They are also prudent money managers and have been very careful with their hiring.  Areas of growth for the banks have been any area that improves productivity and profitability, including robotics.  In addition risk mitigation in an era of economic uncertainty has created specific demands.

The telecommunications companies are other big employers in Canada and are also very cost conscious.  While they demand the best talent in order to compete, they too, are also careful about keeping employment costs under control, particularly as they are also acquisitive, which can mean a big focus on integration of acquired companies.  Some of the drivers of demand here include the highly competitive nature of the business, investment in infrastructure, technological innovation and a need to plan for a retiring “Boomer” workforce.

The US economy continues to add jobs in significant numbers, averaging more than 250,000 jobs a month.  The demand for skills in the US will lure talent from Canada which is good for the individuals but not so good for Canada in the long term.  What has not happened, and is different from previous economic times, is that Canada’s economy has not improved along with US economy, which is one of the indicators of our “new normal” environment.

Construction worker

The demand for the “trades” continues unabated, as the construction industry seems to be forever busy.  Cranes dot the skies of Canada’s largest cities, and home renovation projects are hard to staff!

The three levels of government in Canada are big employers.  Municipal, provincial and Federal governments employ a lot of people and with the current Federal government it was expected their ranks would grow.  There has been some growth in the Federal payroll, about 40,000 in 2016 but it was expected to be more.  All of these governments are dealing with the issue of a fast retiring upper echelon.  The pensions are so lucrative that large numbers of civil servants are eligible for, and invariably take, retirement at a very early age.  This will create opportunity for new jobs, but will also result in a significant brain drain from our government.

The Canadian Staffing Index is an indicator of the strength of the largest provider of talent in any economy (the staffing industry) and an excellent barometer of the health of Canada’s economy. The reading at the end of the first quarter was 110, which was significantly up from last quarter when it was 96.  The reading is not adjusted and so is affected by number of available working hours etc.  Having said that the indication is a positive one.

Eagle LogoHere at Eagle we experienced a 25% increase in demand from our clients in the first quarter of 2017 versus the previous quarter, and the demand was about the same as the first quarter of 2016.  We also experienced a 20% increase in people looking for work over the previous quarter and a 16% increase over the same quarter last year.  This would suggest an uptick in activity that is a positive for the economy, if we can keep it going.

 More Specifically:

cn towerThe Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is Eagle’s busiest region, representing about 60% of our business.  It is also the 4th largest city in North America, containing more than 50% of Canadian head offices and with a population of approximately six (6) million.  This market has remained one of the busier markets in Canada, yet has not been as buoyant as previous years, with banks, telcos and provincial government all just a little slower with their hiring.   We have seen a small increase in demand in the first quarter and anticipate things will pick up as the year progresses.

The Saddledome in CalgaryWestern Canada is of course comprised of the oil patch in Alberta and the rest.  Some provinces have fared better than others, with certainly Alberta taking the brunt of the hit because of its resource based employment.  BC was actually the fastest growing province in Canada in 2016 but with an election coming and legislative interference harming the housing sector, the BC economy has started to slow down.  Saskatchewan has fared better than other provinces with a business friendly government although it too is hit by a decline in oil revenues and is struggling with deficit reduction, so no job boom here. The Conference Board expects Alberta to be the fastest growing province in Canada for 2017 but that remains to be seen as the province is not attracting foreign investment (because of Federal and Provincial government policies) and unemployment remains high.

Parliament building in OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”.  While there is a better mood amongst the Federal civil service under the Trudeau government, I can’t say that I share their optimism given his focus on anything but job creation.  There has been an increase in Federal government hiring in 2017 with our civil service now employing an extra 23,000 in just the last year (wonder why our taxes are so high?).  Quebec is enjoying low unemployment and continuing to fund new tech growth in the province (wonder where those transfer payments are spent?).  We anticipate that to continue in 2017.  The Maritime Provinces continue to struggle to create employment and we don’t expect much change there.

The Hot Client Demand.

At Eagle our focus in on professional staffing and the people in demand from our clients have been fairly consistent for some time.  Program Managers, Project Managers and Business Analysts always seem to be in demand. It might just be our focus, but Change Management and Organizational Excellence resources are in relatively high demand too. Big data, analytics, CRM, web (portal and self-serve) and mobile expertise (especially developers) are specializations that we are seeing more and more. On the Finance and Accounting side, we see a consistent need for Financial Analysts, Accountants with designations and public accounting experience plus Controllers as a fairly consistent talent request. Expertise in the Capital markets, both technical and functional, tends to be a constant ask in the GTA.  Technology experts with functional expertise in Health Care is another skill set that also sees plenty of demand.  This demand fluctuates based on geography and industry sectors, so we advise candidates to watch our website and apply for the roles for which they are best suited.

Outside of Eagle’s realm some of the in-demand in the trades, a growth in demand skills include the classic tradespeople, drivers, and new tech skills like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, video gaming skills etc.

 Summary:

 There are some positive indicators that would suggest light at the end of the tunnel, but it is early to tell whether that will lead to economic growth.  At a very low growth in GDP, and increasing government debt loads and no clear fiscal policies to help I do not anticipate significant job growth in Canada for a while.

There are however bright spots, caused by demographic shifts (retiring Baby Boomers) and new technologies.  The growth of the “gig economy” creates new opportunities for people to define their own destiny and become mini-entrepreneurs.

The effect of US policy changes by the Trump administration remain to be seen.  Having said that early indicators could see immigration (positive for Canada), trade agreements (possibly negative for Canada) and defense (possibly negative for Canada) all having some impact.

In today’s Canada job seekers need to understand the growing sectors, the in demand jobs and be willing to go where the work is.  If I was looking for work I would be moving to the larger centres, investing in in-demand skills and increasing my marketability with the right “attitude”.

That was my look at the Canadian job market for the third quarter in 2016 and some of its influences.

Business Owner? Invest in YOU!

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
Chairman of the Board at Eagle

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on March 23rd, 2017

learning quote from Brian HerbertEagle has been working with independent contractors for more than twenty years.  One of the challenges that any business owner faces is in personal development and it is particularly tough for the owner of a one person business.  If “the business” is taking time out for training, then it is not making money  and a second issue is that the business also has to pay for training.

When I started Eagle I had a similar dilemma, how do I continue to learn about running a business and still do my day job.

“Develop a passion for learning.  If you do, you will never cease to grow.”  Anthony J D’Angelo

Here are some ideas:

Read! It seems obvious … but so few people do it! I love the Executive Book Summaries because they are an 8 page (20 minute read) synopsis of some of the greatest business books. A very affordable annual fee lets me download pdf files that I print and read when I have a few minutes between meetings or when I’m traveling! I also subscribe to Harvard Business Review which produces short, very informative and relevant documents that keep me thinking, give me ideas and help me to stay relevant.

Network! I started a small group of fellow CEOs that gathered on a monthly basis to share stories and collectively grow. There are many existing groups that provide the same experience.  Over the years I have belonged to numerous such groups .. including the group of CEOs who ride motorcycles!  If you are an independent contractor why not start your own networking group?

Online Training.   In recent years there has been an explosion of available, and free or very affordable, training online.  Sites such as Coursera and others like it have great training in a plethora of subjects.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”  John F Kennedy

My advice to any business owner, particularly the independent operator …invest a little in yourself and you differentiate from almost everyone else!

IT Industry News for February 2017

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
Chairman of the Board at Eagle

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on March 8th, 2017

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the ICT industry for February 2017. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of previous year’s Februarys …

Five years ago, February 2012 was not a blockbuster month for M&A, but there was some interesting activity.  The biggest deal of the month saw Oracle pay $1.9 billion for talent management company Taleo.  Siemens Canada paid $440 million for networking equipment company Rugged.com.  IBM bought BYOD company Worklight; Dell bought backup and recovery company AppAssure; Apple bought mobile search company Chomp; dell logoand LM Ericsson bought Ottawa based BelAir Networks.   Four years ago in February 2013 Dell went private in a $24.4 billion deal that included a $2 billion investment by Microsoft.  Oracle paid $1.7 billion for networking company Acme Packet Inc.; Rackspace bought big data company ObjectRocket; Telus was busy with two acquisitions, electronic medical records division of the Canadian Medical Association and digital forensics company Digital Wyzdom; HP also sold the Palm operating system to LG for their smart TVs.  February 2014 was busy in M&A. Facebook make a big move with the $16 billion Oracle logo a large software company originally noted for its databaseacquisition of Whatsapp.  Comcast made a $45 billion play for Time Warner Cable and regulatory approval or otherwise is imminent; Oracle paid a reputed $400 million for data management platform company Bluekai; LinkedIn paid $120 million for online job search company Bright; and Klout was bought for about $100 million by Lithium Technologies.  Google made a couple of acquisitions, online fraud company Spider.io and secure logon company Slicklogin.  IBM bought database as a service company Cloudant; and Monster bought a couple of companies, social profile company Talentbin and job aggregation and distribution technology company Gozaic. Finally, Microsoft announced Steve Balmer’s retirement and appointed a new CEO, Satya Nadella.  February 2015 saw some interesting activity.  The $6.3 billion merger of Staples and Office Depot and the $1.6 Billion purchase of Orbitz by Expedia are two examples of sectors experiencing massive consolidation.  There was a big buy in the communications and IT space with Harris paying Microsoft logo$4,75 billion for Excelis to establish a 23,000 person company.  There was a big data center play with UK based Telecity Group paying $2.2 billion for Interxion Holdings.  Microsoft made a couple of acquisitions, paying $200 million for pen-tech maker N-Trig and $100 million for mobile calendar company Sunrise.  Samsung bought a mobile payment company (competing with Apple pay), LoopPay.  Also out buying was Twitter which picked up Niche, a network of social media creators.  There were a number of interesting deals in Asia, including Sapdeal buying luxury fashion estore Exclusively; Foodpanda made six acquisitions of online meal delivery services to establish itself as a powerhouse in that space.  Showing some forethought Australian job board OneShift has bought Adage, which is a job board serving people over 45.  Last year in February 2016 the biggest deal saw HNA Group of China pay $6 billion for Ingram Micro.  Two other billion dollar deals Cisco logoincluded Cisco paying $1.4 billion for IoT company, Jasper Technologies and a consortium of Chinese internet firms making a $1.2 billion bid for Opera. Microsoft was busy with a couple of acquisitions, Xamarin a cross platform mobile application development company, and Swiftkey which produces predictive keyboard technology.  Another busy company was Alibaba Group which was investing in a bunch of companies, including a $100 million investment in Groupon, and smaller investments in microblogging site Weibo; software company Momo; augmented reality startup Magic Leap; Chinese retail chain Suning; and Singapore telco SingPost.  Other companies of note out buying included IBM who bought digital agency Aperto and Blackberry acquired cybersecurity company Encription.

Which brings us back to the present …

The apple logo and apple with a bite out of itFebruary 2017 saw very little M&A action.  Nokia paid $371 million for Finnish telecom software company Comptel, as it reinvents itself, and Apple picked up an AI startup company RealFace.    Another company in the news, but for the wrong reasons was Samsung which is in the middle of a significant bribery scandal.

On the economic front there were a lot of positive indicators out of the US, including adding another 246,000 jobs.  Canada also added 48,000 jobs in January which followed a good December in job creation.  Around the world, the UK is starting to see some labour impacts from the Brexit decision as EU nationals are not applying for jobs they used to do.  Brazil reached a record high in unemployment, in India hiring activity declined and in China there is expected to be a boom in hiring.

Perhaps more interesting this month than the M&A activity, or lack thereof, were some other tidbits of news.

The Irish government have an Action Plan for Jobs that is ahead of plan as of 2016 and is looking to create 200,000 net new jobs by 2020.  Maybe Canada could take a look at an interesting program like this!

An Ipsos survey suggests that Canadians are spending more time on mobile apps than ever, which might explain why everyone you see walking along the street has their face buried in their phone!

Another survey suggests that within the last year 60% of small businesses were the victims of cyberattack!

Finally, another study suggests that global gender diversity is moving, albeit slowly, and at this rate it will take another 20 years to hit parity!

That is it for my monthly look at what was happening in the technology space over the last month, compared to the same month in previous years.  I’ll be back in about a month’s time, until then … walk fast and smile!

IT Industry News for January 2017

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
Chairman of the Board at Eagle

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on February 7th, 2017

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the ICT industry for January 2017. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of previous year’s Januarys …

Five years ago, in January 2012 things were very quiet in M&A – former tech giant JDSU was back on the acquisition trail, even if just to pick up a small Vancouver based company, Dyaptive Systems. Symantec paid $115 million for LiveOffice to help with its storage capabilities, Google bought a bunch more IBM patents, and Xerox picked up Laser Networks in the managed printing space. Rim (now Blackberry) also announced a change in leadership. Three years ago, in January 2013 Cisco bought mobile network software company Intucell for $475 million and sold its Linksys division to Belkin. The biggest dollar value deal was AT&T’s purchase of some of Verison Wireless’s airwaves for $1.9 Billion. Other deals saw NCR buy video software ASTM company uGenius Technology; Canon Canada acquired long-time partner and document management company Oce Canada; NetSuite bought retail management systems company Retail Anywhere; and AVI-SPL bought Duocom-Duologik. January 2014 was an interesting month with a few big M&A deals. Google was an especially busy player, selling its Motorola Mobility handset unit to Lenovo for $2.9 billion but paying $3.2 billion for Nest Labs and the company also bought Bitspin. The other big deal saw VMware pay $1.17 billion for mobile device management company AirWatch. Other big names on the acquisition trail included Oracle who bought cloud based service delivery company Corente; Microsoft paid a reputed $100 million for cloud based service company (seems to be a theme) Parature; Ricoh purchased IT service company Mindshift from BestBuy; and Hootsuite bought analytics company Yahoo logouberVu. In January 2015, the biggest deal was Hutchison offering more than $14 billion for O2. Other big dollar news saw Yahoo looking like it might be remaking itself, spinning off its $40 Billion stake in Alibaba to become smaller, leaner and either buy or be bought! The final M&A activity involving a “B” was Telco equipment company Commscope offering $3 billion for TE Connectivities network business. There were also a number of very well-known companies out buying, and in no particular order … Amazon paid something like $300 million (approximate) for chip designer Annapurna Labs; Expedia bought its online travel competitor Travelocity for $200 million; Samsung paid $100 million for Brazil’s largest print company Simpress; Google paid about $100 million for mobile payments company Softcard; Facebook bought Wit.ai a company that has a Siri like Dropbox logosolution that can be embedded in other products; Dropbox bought CloudOn a document editing and productivity tools company; Twitter paid somewhere between $30 million and $40 million for Zipdial, an Indian company that does some funky marketing thing with phone hang ups; and finally Microsoft made two acquisitions, startup text analytics company Equivo and in a departure from its history it bought open software company Revolution Analytics. There were no huge deals in January 2016, but there was plenty of activity with some of the household names out shopping. IBM bought video service provider Ustream; Microsoft bought game form learning tool MinecraftEdu; Apple bought “emotion recognition” company Emotient; and Oracle bought media web tracking firm AddThis. Toshiba bought an ERP solutions company Ignify, and a number of smaller deals included Juniper Networks buying BTISystems Inc.; FireEye bought iSight partners; Acceo Solutions bought Groupe Techna and SmartPrint bought LaserCorp’s Toronto based managed print services business.

Which brings us back to the present…

Cisco logoIn January 2017 the multi-billion-dollar deal of the month was Cisco’s purchase of app performance management company, AppDynamics for $3.7 billion. HP Enterprise purchased data center hardware provider, SimpliVity for $650 million. Microsoft acquired Montreal-based deep learning start-up Maluuba for an undisclosed sum. Google has announced plans to purchase Twitter’s mobile developer platform Fabric. Trello, the startup behind a leading task-management app has been purchased by Atlassian for $425 million. CRM giant, Salesforce bought Unity&Variety to enhance its productivity app service Quip Managed Service Provider of data and database administration, Datavail, acquired Canadian IT channel leader Navantis.

IBM logoSome non-M&A news in January included IBM announcing it broke the US record for number of patents granted in a single year – 8,088 to be exact. Avaya Inc. announced it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as a result of accumulating debt from their major acquisitions in the last ten years. According to a report released by Gartner Inc. 2016 saw a decrease in the shipment of PCs, the lowest it has been since 2007.

That’s my look at the tech news for January 2017. Until next month, walk fast and smile!

What COULD You Do With 20 minutes?

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
Chairman of the Board at Eagle

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on November 21, 2012

If you were to invest 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week towards “self development” what could you do?

Health & Fitness

I have a weight routine that takes me exactly 20 minutes. When I do it, I usually do 20 minutes of cardio first but if pushed for time I just do the weight routine.  There are 9 upper body moves that I execute one after the other as a circuit.  I do a set of abs before the first set, a set of abs between the sets and again after the second set… it all takes 20 minutes!  I can tell you that when I started doing this it had a dramatic affect on toning my upper body, and I only do it twice a week!  In addition to toning your body, weights increase muscle mass which increases the amount of calories your body burns!

A 20 minute brisk walk every day burns calories, builds some muscle, exercises your heart and gets some “fresh” air into your lungs.

20 minutes exercise each day for 5 days a week is more than 85 hours of exercise a year!

Brain Work

I can read an 8 page summary of a business book from Executive Book Summaries in 20 minutes.   If you read one book summary a week you can cover off the main concepts of more than 50 business books every year.

I can do a tough Sudoku or a crossword puzzle in about an hour… or 3 * 20 minute sessions.  If I devote my brain to that activity three times a week I am spending 50 hours a year exercising my brain.

Relationships

I can have a 20 minute conversation with my mom (sisters, friends etc) and we all enjoy it.

I can write 4 cards with hand written notes in 20 minutes . They might be to friends or clients, but they are always appreciated.

I can take 5 minutes to share a good business read on LinkedIn and enhance my personal brand as a knowledge expert.  If I invest 20 minutes over the course of a week I can share 200 stories in a year and the Kevin Dee brand gets noticed.

I can spend 5 minutes sending an email to a friend or relative to let them know how I’m doing, and that I’m thinking of them.  Again a 20 minute investment each week means 4 times a week (200 times a year) I am reaching out to people I care about.

How much time do you spend watching “mindless TV shows”?

How much time do you spend sitting on a bus or train?

How much time do you spend sitting in a hotel room while on business travel?

How much time do you spend sitting at the rink while your child skates?

There are lots of “20 minute opportunities” out there and you don’t need to cram them all with activity, but just maybe a small investment in 20 minute activities could give you a good return on that investment.

PS.  This is just scratching the surface … if you really think about it there are a million high return ways to use 20 minutes!

IT Industry News for October 2016

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
Chairman of the Board at Eagle

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on November 10th, 2016

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the ICT industry for October 2016. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of previous year’s Octobers …

Five years ago in October 2011 an industry icon, Steve Jobs passed away and IBM announced Virginia Rometty as their first female CEO.  On the M&A front Oracle made a couple of buys, including RightNow Technologies ($1.5 Billion) and Endeca Technologies; Sony bought Ericsson out of their Sony Ericsson joint venture ($1.5 Billion); Red Hat bought storage company Gluster ($136 million); and Cisco bought BNI Video ($99 million).  The October 2012 news was dominated by Hurricane Sandy and the US presidential election.   The big deal of the month was a $1.5 billion merger of two US cell EMC logocarriers, T-Mobile and MetroPCS.  There were also a number of smaller deals, with EMC beefing up in the security area (Silver Tail), Telus expanding its medical solutions portfolio (Kinlogix Medical) and Avnet improving its IBM capabilities (BrightStar and BSP).  In the social networking world Yelp bought its European competitor Qype in a $50 million deal.  Three years ago, October 2013 was not a dynamic M&A month, although there was certainly some activity.  Oracle announced two acquisitions, both “cloud based companies: Big Machines provides pricing and quote date for sales and orders; and Compendium is a content marketing company.  Other “names” out shopping included Avaya buying the software division of ITNavigator for its call centre and social media monitoring software; Rackspace bought ZeroVM a tech company with a software solution for the cloud; Intuit bought consulting company Level Up Analytics, primarily to acquire its talent; VMWare bought “desktop as a service” company Desktone; Netsuite bought human capital software company TribeHR; and Telus enhanced its mobile offering with the HP logopurchase of Public Mobile.  In October 2014 we saw a new trend, with two public companies both choosing to split into smaller entities.  HP announced it was creating a business service focused Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and personal computing & printer company HP Inc.  Symantec also chose to split into two independent public companies, one focused on business and consumer security products, the other on its information management portfolio.  Other interesting news saw IBM pay $1.5 Billion to GlobalFoundries so it would take away its money losing semiconductor manufacturing business.  NEST bought out competitor Revolv; EMC bought three cloud companies, The Cloudscaling Group, Maginatics and Spanning Cloud Apps; and in Korea, Kakao and Daum merged to form a $2.9 billion dell logointernet entity.  Last year October 2015 brought some big deals with the biggest seeing Dell offer $26 billion to buy storage company EMC.  Interestingly an EMC subsidiary, VMWare was also out shopping, picking up a small email startup, Boxer.  In another deal involving “big bucks”, Western Digital paid $19 billion for storage competitor Sandisk.  IBM were also writing a big cheque, paying $2 billion in a big data/internet of things play for The Weather Network (minus the TV operations), and IBM also picked up a storage company, Cleversafe.  Cisco paid $522.5 million for cybersecurity firm Lancope; LogMeIn paid $110 million for LastPass; Trend Micro paid $350 million for next generation intrusion prevention systems company HP Tippingpoint; Red Hat picked up deployment task execution and automation company Ansible; Vasco Data Security paid $85 million for solution provider Silanis; and Apple bought a speech processing startup, VocalIQ.  As industries converged it was interesting to see Securitas pay $350 million for Diebold’s US Electronic Security business.

Which brings us back to the present …

Just like four years ago October 2016 news has been dominated by the US Presidential election … and of course the upset happened!  Maybe the election is why the M&A market was slow this month?  Not much in the way of deals, with one BIG deal seeing Qualcomm Google signpay $47 Billion for NXP Semiconductor.  The only other sizable deal saw Wipro pay $500 million for IT cloud consulting company Appirio.  Google picked up Toronto based video marketing startup FameBit and Pivot Technology Solutions picked up Ottawa based Teramach … and that was about it for October.

Other news saw Google step into the smartphone world with the release of Pixel, at a time Twitter logowhen wireless use in Canada is more than 50% of telecom revenues, however that is a crowded and hyper-competitive space so it will be interesting to watch.  Twitter announced layoffs plus the fact it will be shutting down the video service Vine.  Lastly HP Inc. also announced layoffs in its plans.

Despite all of the hype and vitriol of the presidential campaign, most indicators that were based on numbers were reasonably positive.  A couple of subjective indices (measuring confidence) were down, but nothing crazy.  There were also numerous reports from IDC and Gartner this month with predictions of growth in many tech sectors including total IT spend, cloud spending, security spending etc.  About the only areas that are trending down are PC sales which is no surprise and smartwatches, which is a surprise.

I would be remiss in my husbandly duties if I did not point out Janis Grantham’s inclusion in the 2016 Global Power 100 — Women in Staffing list.

I also found it surprising that it is five years since Steve Jobs passed away, it just doesn’t seem that long ago.

That is my update on tech news for October 2016 … until next month, stay positive, walk fast and smile!