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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.

Contractor Quick Poll Results: How Many Languages Do You Speak?

Canada has two official languages: French and English. Unofficially, there are more than 200 languages spoken nation-wide and the 2016 Canadian Census found that 17.5% of the population spoke at least two languages at home. That’s a lot of diversity!

Speaking multiple languages can help you in your job search as it simplifies communication and building relationships with more people. In last month’s contractor quick poll, we decided to get a grasp on our readership and understand how many languages you can speak. The results have been fascinating with roughly 75% of respondents being able to speak more than one language and a few who can even speak 5 of more!

Quick Poll Results - How many languages do you speak?

Contractor Quick Poll: Where do you prefer to be working?

It’s now been about two months since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Canadian economy to shift in a way we’ve never seen before. While some companies had to shut down projects and cut contracts almost immediately, others saw the opposite effect where demand for IT talent couldn’t be greater. Across all organizations, nearly all staff and contractors have been asked to work from home and that has been a major change for many of us.

Now, we’re weeks into the pandemic and slowly starting to see the economy open up. While few offices are bringing their teams back, we are at a point where we can at least start talking about it. In this month’s contractor quick poll, we’re curious to know what you think of working from home, especially after being forced to do so for so long.

IT Industry News for April 2020

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee, Co-Founder of Eagle

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on May 12th, 2020

This is my 30,000-foot look at events in the Tech industry for April 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 April in previous years …

Five years ago, in April 2015 Nokia paid $16.5 billion for telecom company Alcatel-Lucent.  A couple of other big deals saw Capgemini pay $4 billion for services firm IGATE and LinkedIn made its largest acquisition ever, paying $1.5 billion for training portal Lynda.com.  LinkedIn also bought a predictive insights startup company, Refresh.  Netsuite paid $200 million for ERP and commerce software company Bronto Software and Blackberry reputedly shelled out $150 million for file sharing security company Watchdox.  Salesforce was also out shopping, picking up mobile two-factor authentication startup, Toopher.  In another deal involving billions, Informatica decided to follow in DELL’s footsteps and go private for a $5.3 billion price tag.

April 2016 saw some big deals, the biggest was Bell’s $3.8 billion bid for Manitoba Bell logoTelephone System, which closed in 2017.  Other large deal saw a Chinese conglomerate bid $3.6 billion for Lexmark; and Plantronics shell out $2 billion for Polycom.  Oracle paid $663 million for cloud-based construction software company Textura.  Nokia, who were also in the news announcing layoffs, and continued to evolve their business model, this time into the wearable tech arena with the $192 million purchase of Withings.  Other deals saw Autodesk acquire 3D animation software company Solid Angle; and Dimension Data bought Toronto based cloud services company Ceryx.

Three years ago, in April 2017 Microsoft bought Israeli cloud-monitoring and analytics ACCENTURE LOGOstartup, Cloudyn. Flipkart, one of India’s larger ecommerce companies, acquired the Indian division of eBay (eBay.in) as part of eBay’s $500 million investment in Flipkart. VMware’s vCloud Air unit was acquired by OVH, a French hosting and cloud company. Global professional services provider, Accenture, purchased the UK-based automation services provider, Genfour. Toronto-based startup, Turnstyle Analytics, was acquired by Yelp for $20 million. California-based Coupa Software purchased Swedish software company, Trade Extensions for $45 million. Montreal-based financial technology provider, Alithya acquired big data solution provider, Systemware Innovation Corporation.

April 2018 was not super busy on the M&A front although there were a few deals, including Mitel Logoa $2 billion purchase of Ottawa based Mitel by Searchlight Partners, who will take the company private.  Mobile payments company Square paid $365 million for website company Weebly; iconic photo site Flickr has been bought by SmugMug; Adobe acquired AI startup Uru; Indeed bought Canadian jobs site Workopolis; and HPE Pointnext bought Redpixie.

Last year April 2019 was an extremely slow M&A month with just two deals hitting my Intel logoradar.  Intel bought Omnitek, a company that produces programmable chips for the video space.   This comes as Intel announced it was exiting the 5G modem space for smartphones, suggesting it was not a profitable business for them.  The other deal saw the merger of two large US based MSPs, as Corsica bought EDTS to bring the level of scale.

Which brings us back to the present …

April 2020 continues to be dominated by COVID-19, with global efforts to fight the pandemic causing the economy to retract worldwide.  The focus is on social distancing and flattening the curve … and the world is anxious to get back to work, and yet anxious about what that means.  A strange time indeed.

Talking about the impact of the pandemic, IDC released projections on Canadian IT Spending and it wasn’t pretty.  They suggest Canada’s annual spending will drop to minus eight percent for the remainder of 2020 … negative spending can’t be good!

There was some M&A activity in April.  Apple picked up an AI voice company, Voysis that is The apple logo and apple with a bite out of itexpected to improve on Siri; Accenture beefed up its security practice with the acquisition of Revolutionary Security; and Cisco picked up Fluidmesh Networks to assist in their IoT strategy.  Other deals included security company Zscaler buying cloud security startup Cloudneeti; mobile security company MobileIron bought Incapptic Connect, to assist in software releases; and Scopely scooped up another gaming company, this time PierPlay make of Scrabble Go.

Cognizant was in the news as it was hit by the Maze ransomware, affecting both it and its client’s systems.  In other cyber security news, it appears that targeted attacks, such as spear-Phishing, now accounts for the 60% of cyber attacks.

That’s it for my 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 at the beginning of June, until then – don’t forget to wash your hands and social distance!

Tech Wins at Companies Across Canada During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Tech Wins at Companies Across Canada During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The news is full of depressing stories, political controversy and plenty of fear. Certainly, these are tough times and many people around the world are suffering in ways nobody would have predicted a mere few months ago. Still, there are good stories around the world, coming in all shapes and forms.

Companies are moving at a fast pace to keep up and adapt. Yes, there have been layoffs and the worst may still be ahead in some organizations, but when we look deeper, there are many encouraging, feel-good stories coming from this crisis.

Here at Eagle, we had a huge win within our back-office team. Most of the company has worked in a predominately electronic environment for many years with the ability to work virtually anywhere and an existing work-at-home program made the move from office to home seamless.  However, our Accounting Team still had a few processes that depended on paper, creating a reliance to work in a centralized location. This pandemic has been an opportunity to completely transition from paper. Impressively, the team built and implemented new processes in a matter of days! Not only does this result in a positive environmental impact, but the morale boost will be long-term. Even after offices open up, this team will now have the option to work-from-home, impacting their work/life balance in a positive way.

Eagle’s story is just one, minor example of using technology to make improvements in the wake of a crisis. Eagle’s founder, Kevin Dee, set out to find more examples and published a series of LinkedIn Posts highlighting tech wins across Canada. Here are examples from three very different Canadian organizations who all used technology to overcome unique, challenging situations:

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

It’s unusual to see the CRA in a good news story, but credit is certainly due given what these public servants pulled off for the country. When Justin Trudeau announced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) in mid-March, the news brought relief to millions of Canadians, but stress to the employees at CRA. There was no existing system to manage the volumes and speed at which this system needed to deliver.

Still, the CRA team was able to deliver a system in three weeks that not only processed the volume of applicants in a timely manner but also introduced direct deposit payments to banks, which the CRA had not done previously, other than as a pilot. In the end, this helped millions of Canadians and gave the government a high-profile story about a successful, fast implementation.

TD Bank

TD Bank also successfully used technology in two areas to lead the way through the COVID-19 crisis. The first comes from their Trader Group, which was housed on a massive floor of a high rise building, a situation screaming of health risks at the onset of the pandemic.

Trading was soaring as the markets responded to the pandemic so work had to continue. Most companies were sending their people home, or at least splitting teams into smaller groups, and TD Bank knew that they needed to act quickly and effectively in order to compete. They assessed all of the risks and obstacles of suddenly sending their teams home, including security, hardware options, process issues and communication issues. In the end, they managed to pull off the impossible and got 300 of 357 traders home, replicating a high-tech trading floor in hundreds of residential dining rooms and spare bedrooms.

The bank also pulled off a similar feat with its 15 call centres located across North America, employing 9000 people. They moved 95% of those people to a home office and kept the call center operations going.  The logistics involved were huge, but the bank was able to overcome all of them.

In both of these examples, TD Bank transformed the way they do business, which is rare in such a traditional industry. Similar to Eagle’s story, both their Trader Group and call centres have the option to work remotely long after this crisis is over, boosting employee morale and saving them real estate costs.

TC Energy

The final example comes from the Oil & Gas sector in Calgary and demonstrates how proper planning pays off. For the past couple years, TC Energy, which has approximately 8,000 employees – 50% of whom are in Calgary, has been working on a digital transformation project. The project embraced big data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence while migrating systems to the cloud.

Because of this preparation and embracing the latest technologies, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, TC Energy was successful at moving to a work-from-home environment in just one weekend. Furthermore, their ability to hire and onboard staff has barely been affected, a major stumbling blocks for many large companies.

Adversity has potential to bring out the best in individuals and companies alike and these examples are a handful of the stories we can find all around us. As we work through tough times, continue looking for positive stories and recognizing those who are overcoming hurdles every day. It’s this attitude that will help you come out stronger on the other side.

Silver Linings: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Can Strengthen How We Work

Brianne Risley By Brianne Risley,
Director, Delivery Strategy & Development at Eagle

When faced with sweeping changes affecting how we live and work, I like to reflect on some of the positive outcomes I can see for our companies and teams when restrictions are finally lifted. We have gone through something together — let’s look at some ways we are strengthened by this experience.

  • Tighter Bonds: “Work-Friends” are now “Work-Family”. We’ve shared an unprecedented experience together over the past 4 weeks. “Work-friends” have deepened into something a bit more personal as we share stories, fears, and find ways to offer support to teammates that needed that extra bit of connection. We’ve met co-workers’ kids, we know their dogs, we’ve seen them with beards and have no make-up. It used to be I could only say that about close friends. I believe the personal nature of this openness will lead to long-term connections with the people we worked with through this crisis, which is far different than the transient nature of most work relationships.
  • Remote Work… Works!: Every company that has ever stubbornly held fast to a “must-be-on-site”, “bum-in-seat” policy for their project teams has been awakened to remote work possibilities. This opens the opportunity of using remote workers with specialized skills from across the country (and beyond) to support that ‘hard-to-fill’ project in Atlantic Canada or the Prairie provinces. It also presents a path forward for workers in Alberta who find themselves under-employed by the ‘double whammy’ of low oil prices and the pandemic to find work on projects across North America. Before this all started, there was already a strong undercurrent of Canadians working remotely for US companies on tech projects. I expect this to grow significantly in the time ahead.
  • IT Jobs for the Foreseeable Future: All this connectedness is driven by Technology projects and IT workers. Jobs and wages will continue to be strong in this sector which is good for me, as an IT Recruiter, and for my candidate base!
  • ‘Show and Tell’ Culture for Companies and Workers: How will a company introduce a remote worker to their corporate culture? Likewise, how do you, as a remote worker, show that you can be a key contributor to a team-oriented company? Companies will expand on using visual techniques like team pictures, project videos, and 360 video tours of their offices to publicly showcase their work environments. An example of this is here. For workers, we’ll go beyond the basics like optimizing a LinkedIn profile, or crafting a solid personal brand to showcase who we are. To stand out, we will do something bold like sharing a video-tour of our home office to show our preparedness for remote work, or come to interviews with a family photo along-side our diplomas. If you’re joining a ‘work-family’, be prepared to share a bit more about who you are on both a personal and professional-level.

All change comes with a silver lining. There are intrinsic benefits to our work culture that will come from this experience. It’s up to each of us to be mindful, and to capitalize on them.

Quick Poll Results: Your Go-To Voice Assistant

Do you use a voice assistant like Google, Siri or Alexa? We learned in last month’s Contractor Quick Poll that a proportion of our readers aren’t using voice-activated devices; however, a good chunk do enjoy the benefits of solving quick problems, getting directions and just having fun with the computer on their phone or home assistant.

To go one step further, we asked our readers about their favourite assistant. Between Amazon, Apple and Google, there’s some stiff competition. While some people said they have no preference, there are some obvious preferences for Google and Alexa.

Contractor Quick Poll Results - Who's Your Favourite Voice Assistant?

Contractor Quick Poll: How many languages can you speak fluently?

Canada is a diverse country with people coming from many cultural backgrounds. This brings communities and organizations opportunities to grow with different points-of-views and an array of unique approaches to problem-solving. At Eagle, we’re proud and fortunate to have worked with individuals from around the world with varied cultural backgrounds.

Being fluent in multiple languages can raise your profile as an IT contractor. Naturally, it opens up opportunities to better communicate with more recruiters, clients, their teams and their customers. According to this TED video we shared a couple years ago, it even contributes to how you approach problems!

In this month’s contractor quick poll, we want to get a snapshot of our readers and how many languages the average person speaks. Answer the poll below and if you’d like, add which languages you speak into the comments underneath.

IT Industry News for March 2020

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee, Co-Founder of Eagle

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on April 3rd, 2020

This is my 30,000-foot look at events in the Tech industry for March 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 March in previous years …

Five years ago in March 2015 HP paid $3 billion for Aruba Networks; Lexmark paid $1 billion for customer management software company Kofax; eCommerce company Rakuten paid $410 million for ebook marketplace Overdrive; Cheetah Mobile paid $58 million for mobile ad network MobPartner; TeraGo Networks paid $33 million for cloud provider RackForce; IBM bought natural language and image processing company AlchemyAPI; and in the cable TV world Charter Communications paid $10.4 billion for Bright House Networks.

March 2016 saw the $3 billion sale of Dell Services to NTT, a direct result of Dell’s IBM logorestructuring following the recent purchase of EMC. IBM was out bolstering its services business with a couple of acquisitions; the first was Optevia, a UK-based integrator focused on Microsoft Dynamics; and the second was Bluewolf Group, a global Salesforce consulting partner. Montreal-based Yellow Pages picked up Toronto-based Juice Mobile, primarily for its mobile marketing capability. Another Toronto company, Influitive, raised some cash ($8.2 million) and bought a couple of mobile app companies, Ironark Software and Triggerfox; and Netsuite bought IOity solutions, a cloud-based manufacturing software company.

Three years ago, in March 2017, Intel bought Israeli computer vision company, Mobileye, Amazon Web Servicesfor a hefty $15.3 billion. HPE bought storage solution provider, Nimble, for $1 billion. Amazon Web Services, a public cloud infrastructure provider, acquired Thinkbox Software, a company that provides software for managing media rendering workloads. Mozilla acquired Pocket, a startup that developed an app for saving articles and other content.

In March 2018 there was a significant amount of M&A activity.  The deal of the month saw Salesforce logoSalesforce pay $6.5 billion for cloud integration company Mulesoft.  Plantronics paid $2 billion for unified communications company Polycom; and Amazon paid $1 billion for smart home company Ring.  Other deals saw eBay shell out $700 million for the commerce platform Qoo10; Cognizant buy Bolder Healthcare Solutions; HPE Aruba buy Cape Networks; VMWare buy security company, E8; and Deloitte pick up API Talent in New Zealand.  It is also nice to see Avaya buying Spoken Communications after leaving Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Last year in March 2019, the big deal of the month saw Nvidia shell out $6.9 billion for data centre solutions vendor, Mellanox.  F5 Networks paid $670 million for up and coming competitor NGINX; and Juniper Networks paid $40 million for AI startup Mist Systems.  Some other deals this month were Apple’s acquisition of machine learning startup LaserLike; Veritas’ acquisition of analytics company Aptare; Mastercard bought security company Ethoca; and Spotify added to its podcast capability with the purchase of Parcast.  Other companies in the news included Lyft, which was the first of several high-profile tech companies with planned IPOs in 2019; SAP who announced a major round of layoffs and SAS who joined the growing number of companies investing big in AI, announcing a $1billion investment.

Which brings us back to the present …

In March 2020, the big news is all about the impact around the world of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The economic and employment fallout have been dramatic, and there is significant uncertainty about how quickly people can get back to work.  So the messages for the period are stay home, wash your hands and don’t touch your face!  Stay safe people!

There was some M&A activity worthy of mention, including the $34.9 billion bid for HP, and HP logosubsequent withdrawal by Xerox.  No doubt that will resurface at some point in the future!  Veritas Capital is buying DXC’s Health and Human Services business for $5 billion; Private Equity firm Hellman & Friedman is paying $1.15 billion for software security testing  company Checkmarx; Palo Alto Networks is buying CloudGenix  for $420 million; and Accenture is paying $139 million for security consulting company, Context Information Security.  Other deals saw Watchguard buy Panda Security and NetApp buy Talon Software.

In the wake of so many layoffs there are bright spots around the world as some companies are staffing up.  A couple of notable announcements include Amazon, who announced they would be hiring an additional 100,000 people and increasing wages for their hourly workers; and Walmart who announced they would hire 150,000 people.

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!

Contractor Quick Poll Results: Who Does Your Taxes

It’s every business owner and independent contractor’s favourite tax! That wonderful job of organizing your books, searching for receipts, and learning just how much you get to pay the Government! Add that fun task to your growing list of to-dos and you barely have time to eat or sleep, let alone see your friends and family.

While some IT professionals are confident and happy to do their taxes by themselves, others prefer to seek the help of a professional to oversee and guarantee they’re done flawlessly. In last month’s contractor quick poll, we asked our audience which route they typically take. By no surprise, most IT contractors hire an accountant to do the dirty work.

Contractor Quick Poll Results: Who Does Your Taxes

Contractor Quick Poll: Who’s your favourite voice assistant?

Kids today will never know the pain of having to find a phone book, going line-by-line seeking the closest business and then having to call to find out when they’re open or if they have what you want. They’ll never experience the anxiety that comes from not knowing the name of that actor who played in that movie, or the friendships torn because there’s no easy way to settle the debate. They’ll never even know the patience it takes to watch The Weather Channel, waiting for it to finally display the local forecast… and the frustration that comes from turning your head and missing it! That’s because we’re in a world with instant answers and many of those answers come from one of three famous voice-activated assistants: Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri.

Humans naturally build relationships and loyalties and, oddly enough, a strong, emotional commitment to an AI device is not unheard of. Whether via a smart home device or a phone, almost all of us have access to Alexa, Google or Siri, and many have chosen our favourite. In this month’s contractor quick poll, we’re reaching out to our audience to learn who you believe is the best voice-activated assistant.