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Category Archives: Industry Trends and Insight

IT industry trends and insights, including information about the IT job market across Canada, tech news from around the world plus the latest in technology and current opinions.

IT Industry News for July 2020

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee, Co-Founder of Eagle

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on August 10th, 2020

This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the ICT industry for July 2020. 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 July in previous years …

Five years ago, July 2015 saw no billion-dollar deals, but there was some activity with some big names out shopping.  Microsoft made two acquisitions, paying $320 million for Microsoft logocloud security company Adallom and customer servicing software company FieldOne Systems. IBM picked up database-as-a-service company Compose; Cisco paid $139 million for sales automation company MaintenanceNet; HP bought a cloud development platform Stackato; Blackberry bought AtHoc, a crisis communication tool; and DropBox bought messaging company Clementine.  Other acquisitions saw Cisco as a seller, with Technicolor paying $600 million for Cisco’s set top box division; Level 3 bought security firm Black Lotus; Amadeus bought travel software company Navitaire (a subsidiary of Accenture) for $830 million; eBay sold its enterprise unit for $925 million, having paid $2.4 billion for it four years ago.  In the continued blurring of the lines between technology companies and other industries, Capital One bank acquired design, development and marketing firm Monsoon.

In July 2016, Verizon made two multi-billion-dollar acquisitions.  The big name was Yahoo! who they bought for $4.83 billion, but they also paid $2.4 billion for Fleetmatics who provide fleet and mobile workforce management services.  Oracle were also out spending big dollars, paying $9.3 billion for cloud-based ERP company, Netsuite. Now if those deals were not big enough, Softbank (like Verizon, they have a large telco presence — formerly Vodafone) paid a whopping $32.2 billion for chip designer ARM Holdings. Also joining the July billion dollar club was security vendor Avast, who bought AVG for $1.3 billion. Other deals that month saw Salesforce pay $582 million for cloud-based startup Quip; Google bought video company Anvato; Terradata bought training company Big Data Partnership; and Opentext bought analytics company Recommind.

Three years ago, July 2017 saw Cincinnati Bell buy Hawaiian Telcom Holdco for $650 Mitel Logomillion and OnX for $201 million. Mitel paid $430 million for ShoreTel and bought Toshiba’s unified communications business. In Toronto, digital signage solution provider, Dot2Dot, acquired Pixel Point Digital. PNI Canada Acuireco Corp. purchased Sandvine Corp. for $562 million with plans to merge Sandvine and Procera Networks.

July 2018 was a busy M&A month with the biggest deal of the month, a somewhat unlikely $19 billion acquisition of CA Technologies by Broadcom, who were clearly planning to expand beyond the semiconductor world.  Solution provider, Atos was paying $3.45 billion for Syntel, creating a large North American presence.  Fortive was paying $2 billion for physical resource management software company Accruent, and the last billion dollar deal of the month saw SS&C pay $1.45 billion for investment technology company Eze Software.  Other deals saw AT&T buy cybersecurity company Alienvault; Hitachi bought AWS integrator Rean; Intel bought specialty chip maker eAsic Corp; Accenture continued its acquisition spree with the purchase of AI company Kogentix; and Getronics re-entered the North American market with the purchase of Pomeroy.

July 2019 was a little quiet, but there were some big deals announced.  Cisco’s $2.6 billion Cisco logoacquisition of Acacia Communications was the biggest deal. Apple splashed $1 billion to buy Intel’s smartphone modem business, and KKR bought Corel for $1 billion too.  There were a few more deals hit my radar with Google buying storage company Elastifile; 8X8 cloud communications company paying $100 million for Platform as a service company Wavecell; and last but not least, Epam Systems bought educational content company Competentum.

Which brings us back to the present …

It is difficult to predict business activity during the current pandemic, but many companies continue with their growth initiatives and July 2020 saw quite a few deals done. There were big names out buying, some deals were not so significant in size but there was at least one in the billion dollar range, with HPE paying $925 million for SD WAN technology company Silver PeakDXC sold its healthcare business for $525 million to Dedalus Group, an Italian company and there was plenty more action but with no price disclosed. Google bought Canadian smart glasses company North; Cisco bought video analytics company Modcam; VMware bought cloud disaster recovery company Datrium; Fortinet bought cloud security startup Opaq Networks; and Mimecast bought email security startup MessageControlUber continues its growth with the purchase of RouteMatch a company focused on public transport systems and a couple of smaller deals saw cyber protection company Acronis buy DeviceLock which provides security at the device level; and Advent International, a private equity firm bought cyber security firm Forescout.  Clearly cyber security is a hot area!

Huawei continues to be in the news, this time the in UK, where the government has reversed its previous decision and has now locked out the company from the UK commercial telecommunications network.  Twitter had an embarrassing leak with some admin accounts compromised and some very high-profile accounts hacked.  Finally, LinkedIn has announced layoffs associated with the pandemic, cutting 960 jobs or about 6% of their workforce.

On the economic, and jobs, front we are still in a period of huge uncertainty, and your crystal ball is probably just as good as mine.  There were some positive signs though, with both Canada (952,000) and the US (2.4 million) showing big job gains in the last month.  The OECD also showed a slight improvement in the unemployment rate, from 8.5% to 8.4% but there are still 54 million people unemployed in the OECD countries!

That’s what caught my eye over the last month, the full edition will be available soon on the  News section of the Eagle website. Hope this was useful and I’ll be back with the August 2020 industry news in just about a month’s time.

Walk Fast and Smile.

Top 10 Data and Analytics Tech Trends, According to Gartner

Top 10 Data and Analytics Tech Trends, According to Gartner

Data, analytics and artificial intelligence are some of the hottest topics today and there is little doubt that they are going to continue to grow throughout the decade. They present outstanding career opportunities, including a variety of paths for specialization.

Now as we are a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Gartner monitored how companies have been using the technologies and recently published some trends they’re seeing, as well as predictions for where the industry will go in the next few years. Here’s a brief summary of their top data and analytics tech trends:

  1. Smarter, Faster, More Responsible AI: Machine learning, optimization, natural language processing, reinforcement learning and distributed learning are all helping companies through the COVID-19 pandemic, and that’s just the start. Gartner predicts that by 2024, 25% of organizations will shift from piloting to operationalizing AI.
  2. Decline of the Dashboard: Rather than static, predefined dashboards, users will be working with dynamic data stories to see the most relevant insights based on their context, role and use.
  3. Decision Intelligence: This brings together several disciplines, including decision management and decision support, and Gartner predicts that by 2023, more than a third of large organizations will have analysts practicing decision intelligence.
  4. X Analytics: Referring to a range of different structured and unstructured content (ex. text analytics, video analytics, audio analytics, etc.), X Analytics will help identify, predict and plan for future crises.
  5. Augmented Data Management: These products will continue to improve as machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques help optimize operations, and metadata is used for powering dynamic systems.
  6. Cloud is a Given: Gartner predicts that in two years, 90% of data and analytics innovation will depend on public cloud services. They note that “Data and analytics leaders need to prioritize workloads that can exploit cloud capabilities and focus on cost optimization when moving to cloud.”
  7. Data and Analytics Worlds Collide: As the two lines between data and analytics blur and their capabilities continue to interact and collaborate, we’ll begin to see new roles for the people and processes that support them.
  8. Data Market Places and Exchanges: More and more organizations are either selling or buying data using formal online data marketplaces, and these platforms will consolidate third-party data offerings to reduce costs.
  9. Blockchain in Data and Analytics: Gartner expects that ledger database management systems will provide a more attractive option for single-enterprise auditing of data sources. In fact, they estimate that by 2021, most permissioned blockchain uses will be replaced by ledger DBMS products.
  10. Relationships Form the Foundation of Data and Analytics Value: Graph technologies and analytics are expected to help more leaders find unknown relationships in data, easier than they can with traditional analytics

Data and analytics are possibly some of the most exciting and fast-moving areas we’re seeing in technology today. Organizations world-wide, across all industries, are investing in different capabilities in order to compete and the need for talent in these areas is increasing. Understanding the trends and where they’re going can help you plan your professional development roadmap and get access to the best contracts in the future.

Contractor Quick Poll Results: When do you prefer to hear from recruiters?

When the perfect opportunity for you comes across a recruiter’s desk, they want to get a hold of you as quickly as possible to find out if you’re interested and submit your application to the client. For some jobs, it’s a matter of hours before the opportunity closes, so speedy contact is key. Emails and texts are great, but there’s no better way to contact somebody quickly — and to have a good quality conversation — than by phone.

We all have different schedules and there are points in our day where a phone call with a recruiter simply isn’t feasible. In last month’s contractor quick poll, we asked you what times of day would be best to hear from a recruiter. The results were mixed, but it looks like we can draw one conclusion: few people want to talk to anyone before they’ve finished their morning coffee!

Statistics Canada’s Most Recent Visual Insights of COVID-19 in Canada

The Federal Government has been carefully monitoring all effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of keeping a close eye on infection rates and the economy, Statistics Canada is researching people’s behaviour and how their coping, then sharing their findings in various formats. Here are a couple infographics that StatCan shared in early July that we found particularly interesting.

COVID-19 and the Labour Market in June 2020

StatCan has always released monthly job numbers to provide an understanding of the country’s economic health. Since the pandemic began, they’ve also been publishing more specific insights to help us understand the effects of COVID-19. The most recent infographic outlines June’s job numbers and compares them to February. It shows that slowly but surely, numbers are returning for normal, but some industries and demographics continue to suffer more than others.

Labour Market

 

Precautions that Canadians will take or continue to take as COVID-19 safety measures are relaxed

Last month, StatCan also conducted a survey to examine the attitudes and concerns of Canadians. As restrictions lift, who will continue taking measures to protect themselves, and to what extent. It’s worth noting that since the survey, many jurisdictions across Canada have made masks mandatory in public places, but overall, this infographic provides an interesting snapshot at the opinions of Canadians during these bizarre times.

COVID-19 Precautions Across Canada

Contractor Quick Poll: Do you screen your LinkedIn requests?

A powerful LinkedIn network can go a long way in helping you build out your professional connections, build your industry reputation and secure future contracts. As such, it’s great practice to connect with past and present colleagues, clients, recruiters and anybody else where you can add mutual value to each other’s professional lives.

At the same time, we all receive connection requests from individuals who appear to be completely random. Maybe you appeared in one of their searches, or maybe you have worked with them but you just don’t recognize them. Either way, this invitation to connect suddenly appears, with no personalized message whatsoever, and you’re left scratching your head. What do you do? Do you connect with them or do you ignore them? That’s what we’re looking to learn in this month’s contractor quick poll.

Regional Job Market Update for Montreal

David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Senior Vice President, Business Development at Eagle

Panoramic Photo Montreal city fron Mount RoyalThe COVID-19 Pandemic and associated deep recession in Canada has made market,  job and employment reports a bleak exercise indeed. As GDP has shrunk substantially in Canada and in fact globally , employers shocked with an unanticipated event reacted initially by stopping hiring then, implementing layoffs, and finally followed by a” how do we survive” — more specifically “Are we prepared to compete in a fully digital marketplace?”

Quebec, and more specifically Montreal, was hit very hard and early by the pandemic. The unemployment rate in Quebec went from a near full employment rate of 4.2% in February to 14.2 % in May. We know from previous data that the technology unemployment rate is about half the general  broader unemployment rate.  The question is where did the Montreal tech job market go? Well, we know that at the same time the pandemic was raging through employment markets and economies, there was an incredible Big Tech rally that completely defies what was happening on the street. This added hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth to companies like Apple, Amazon , Microsoft and Ottawa’s own Shopify, which recently passed RBC as Canada’s largest capitalized company  worth $164B !

Montreal is one of 3 big Tech hubs in Canada, along with Toronto and Vancouver. We certainly saw this market resilience in Montreal as it was one of  Eagle’s busiest branches relatively speaking throughout the Pandemic. The city, while also hit hard early with the Pandemic, also led Canada in restoring some sense of the new “abnormal ” as it moved first to open the economy in Canada. With diverse sectors along with Tech, for example Telco, players in Montreal moved quickly and continued to hire what now was more generally available resources in an strategic effort to amp up their digitized commerce and service offerings.

We have seen now many organizations in Montreal and elsewhere take the event as a time to evaluate their digital strength and no doubt in time refocus on projects to ensure they are able to survive and thrive in an ecommerce world. In demand roles in Montreal include PMs, Full Stack and Application Developers , QA resources along with Security and Cyber resources.

IT Industry News for June 2020

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee, Co-Founder of Eagle

This is my 30,000-foot look at events in the ICT industry for June 2020. 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 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 saw Microsoft buy LinkedIn for a whopping $2.6 billion. There were other billion dollar deals this 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.

Three years ago, in June 2017 Amazon bought Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. Westcon-Comstar’s American business was bought by Synnex for approximately $800 million. US fintech provider, Fiserv purchased British financial services technology firm, Monitise for $88.7 million. Microsoft purchased Israeli cloud startup, Cloudyn, for a price between $50 million and $70 million. Rackspace bought TriCore to increase Rackspace’s business from customers who want help running their critical applications.

June 2018 saw a fair bit of M&A activity, the biggest deal seeing Synnex pay $2.43 billion for call centre company Convergys and AT&T pay $1.6 billion for advertising tech company AppNexus.  Palo Alto Networks paid $300 million for Security company Evident.io; PayPal shelled out $120 million for fraud detection startup Simility; Splunk paid $120 million for incident management platform company VictorOps; Ribbon Communication paid $120 million for Edgewater Networks; and Sharp shelled out $36 million for Toshibas PC business. Other companies out shopping include Cisco who bought WiFi analytics company July Systems; IBM bought maintenance and repair company Oniqua and Shopify bought app company Return Magic.

Last year, June 2019 saw some significant M&A deals with the Salesforce acquisition of Tableau for $1.7 billion the largest deal of the month.  Infinion Technologies paid $10 billion for Cypress Semiconductor; Google paid $2.6 billion for data analytics company Looker; Capgemini shelled out $3.6 billion for engineering company Altran and in the robotics world, Blue Prism paid $100 million for Thoughtonomy.  Other companies with smaller buys included Apple picking up the assets of Drive.ai and Twitter buying machine learning startup Fabula AI.

Which brings us back to the present …

June 2020 was the fourth month into the pandemic and the fallout continues, the Canadian Federal government announced increased spending in the last 4 months that is higher than their usual annual budget, and Canadian debt passed $1 trillion … hence a recent downgrade in credit rating.  A quick look at reports around the world show unemployment levels and GDP impact that according to the OECD makes this recession the worst in nearly a century.

Companies are still making acquisitions and in June we saw IBM pick up cybersecurity vendor Spanugo; Apple bought device management company Fleetsmith: And here in Canada, Bell sold off 25 of its data centres to Equinox, to build its war chest for the upcoming Spectrum auction; VMware bought anti-malware company Lastline; and there were a couple of smaller deals that caught my eye in the full report.

Other companies in the news, include Deloitte, Accenture, DXC and At&T who are all announcing layoffs.  Dell seems to be strengthening its position as the #1 in the server business and Microsoft has decided to get out of the physical retail space, and sell its gear online only.

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 2020 industry news in just about a month’s time.

Walk Fast and Smile.

Are You Keeping Up Compared to Other Developers Around the World?

Are You Keeping Up Compared to Other Developers Around the World?

The Stack Overflow 2020 Developer Survey was released this Spring and, as usual, delivered tons of statistics about developers, what they’re working on, how they’re thinking and where their future is going. One chart they published is of particular interest to any developer looking to remain competitive in the job market.

Stack Overflow asked developers how frequently they learned a new language or framework and the results were a testament to how fast innovations are happening in tech. Around three-quarters of all respondents — professional developers and hobbyists — learn something new at least once a year, and around half of those people said it’s closer to every few months.

Stack Overflow Survey Results: How Frequently do developers learn a new language or framework?
Stack Overflow Survey Results: How Frequently do developers learn a new language or framework?

What is Learning?

Learning can be as extensive or as simple as you’d like, depending on your goals and time available. As long as you’re expanding your mind and putting something into your brain, you’re making yourself more valuable to future clients. For example:

  • In the case of this Stack Overflow survey, respondents are saying they learn a new language or framework. We’ve shared loads of resources with suggestions on where you can pick-up these new skills.
  • You can also force yourself into learning as you go by taking on new challenges that require you to do some research and solve different problems. The Stack Overflow survey also summarized where developers turn to when they need to solve such problems.
  • There are tons of skills you already have, but might have gotten rusty. If you maintain a certification, you’re forced to keep up on skills, but how many others did you learn a few years ago and haven’t used since. It’s great to go back and refresh those every once in a while.
  • At the other extreme, some professionals look to get into a brand-new field of work which often requires more formal training. That comes with more financial and time investment, but pays off.

The Next Step is Getting There

Regardless of what you want to learn, nothing is going to happen unless you create a plan that will put you where you want to be. A high-level roadmap might be:

  1. Decide exactly what you want to do. Maybe it’s based on in-demand skills or just something you’ve been interested in picking up. Pinpoint exactly what it is you want to learn and where you want to be.
  2. Find Out What You Need to Get There. If you’re looking to expand on a language you’re already familiar with, a few websites and weekend exercises may suffice. As noted above, if you have a more ambitious goal that requires extensive learning, you’ll need to investigate formal training.
  3. Build Your Timeline (with milestones). Knowing what to do is one thing, but doing it is a whole other challenge. Create a schedule of when you’ll learn what, including milestones to keep it from being overwhelming. Now you know when to set time aside to learn and ensure you’re on track to accomplish your goal.

Learning is such a valuable and necessary task for an IT professional who wants to keep up in a fast-pace, innovative world. As the chart above shows, the majority of your competitors are developing their skills so if you’re not, then you’re quickly falling behind.

The Popularity and Salaries of Programming, Scripting and Markup Languages According to the Stack Overflow 2020 Developer Survey

Every year, Stack Overflow surveys tens of thousands of developers from around the world to get a feel on trends in the industry, including popular technologies, salaries and employment, as well as to learn more about developers’ intentions and behaviours. The 2020 Results were released recently and one could spend hours exploring the various numbers and statistics they report.

One topic that tends to be of high interest for our readers is trends about the hottest programming, scripting and markup languages, and Stack Overflow has no shortage of data there. So, here’s a summary of what we found most interesting in terms of language.

The Most Popular Languages Among Professional Developers

Stack Overflow surveyed those who both develop as a hobby and professionally, and these numbers were provided as a total, as well as just for professionals. Among professional developers’ responses, there was no surprise that JavaScript remains at the top of the list, followed by HTML/CSS, SQL, Python and Java.  Stack Overflow also noted “moderate gains for TypeScript, edging out C in terms of popularity. Additionally, Ruby, once in the top 10 of this list as recently as 2017, has declined.”

Most Popular Programming Languages
Stack Overflow 2020 Developer Survey: Most Popular Programming Languages

Most Loved, Dreaded and Wanted Languages

Another common section in the annual Stack Overflow survey is where they go beyond the most used languages and understand what developers actually enjoy working with. Stack Overflow defines a “Loved” language as one that developers are currently using and express interest in continuing to use. Dreaded languages are the opposite — developers are using it but did not express interest in continuing to use it. And, wanted languages are those developers are not using, but would like to.

A few interesting observations Stack Overflow makes are that Rust continues to be the most loved and it also jumped up in the list of most wanted languages. More notably, TypeScript surpassed Python this year, taking the #2 spot in the Most Loved list, and Go jumped five spots on that list compared to last year.

Most Loved, Dreaded and Wanted Languages
Stack Overflow 2020 Developer Survey: Most Loved, Dreaded and Wanted Languages

The Programming, Scripting and Markup Languages with the Highest Salaries

The charts below show global salary averages of respondents who use each language, as well as the average salaries in the United States. Globally, Perl tops the list, which Stack Overflow points out may be related to the fact it’s also one of the most dreaded languages, and employers need to compensate for that. It’s interesting to note that salaries in the United States are significantly higher than global averages — the top language in the United States (Scala) brings in a salary almost double that of the top language globally.

Salaries Based on Language Used
Stack Overflow 2020 Developer Survey: Global salary averages of respondents who use each language

Quick Poll Results: Where would you prefer to be doing most of your work?

Working from home is now standard practice for office-workers around the world and there are so many obvious benefits — less of a commute, more opportunity for work/life balance, and increased comfort… just to name a few. While critics of WFH have typically been opposed because they feel it would reduce productivity or break-up teams, it’s safe to say that the world has adapted in a positive way.

Now that we’ve had a taste of the work-from-home convenience, few people want to go back. In last month’s Contractor Quick Poll, we asked where you’d prefer doing most of your work and, while there’s a fairly even split among those who’d prefer all at home or a 50/50 split, it’s clear that few independent contractors are interested in returning to a routine where they go to the client’s site all the time.

Quick Poll Results: Where would you prefer to be doing most of your work?