Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Trends

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to trends.

The Ongoing Debate Around the Future of Work

Last week’s video sparked a bit of debate around the actual need for everybody to learn to code when we shared a video arguing that the movement where all kids need to learn to code is misguided. Today, we’re sharing another video on a topic with varying opinions between economists and futurists — the future of work and whether or not there will still be a place for humans.

As automation continues to grow, so do fears that jobs will fade. Take self-checkouts at stores as an example. These raise controversy as some consumers believe the machines are taking jobs from humans, where the other side will argue they’re creating different types of jobs and the economy will grow. The latter concept is explained further in this video by Vox. It looks at historical data, talks to economists, and provides theories as to why the future of work is only looking bright, even with more and more robots coming in. That said, a scroll through the comments shows equally valid arguments as to why the outlook is looking grim.

What do you think the real future of work will be?

Contractor Quick Poll: Early Bird or Night Owl?

Perhaps one of the top benefits of being an independent contractor is that you get you set your own hours. Certainly, your client will request you are available and on site for some meetings but overall, IT projects can be worked on during any time of day.

While the old “early bird gets the worm” adage holds true in many circumstances, studies have proven that all individuals are different when it comes to productivity. While many people are most productive when they wake up early and get a head start on the day, it still isn’t feasible for a large portion of the population. That segment prefers their sleep in the morning and are much more productive later into the evening.

In this month’s Contractor Quick Poll, we’re asking IT contractors which sleep schedule makes them most productive. Assuming you get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep (ha!), are you an early bird who likes to get up with the sun and go to sleep sooner, or do you consider yourself to be more of a night owl who does phenomenal work well into the night and then sleeps in the next day?

Regional Job Market Update for Montreal, Quebec

David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Vice President, East Region & Government Services at Eagle

Panoramic Photo Montreal city fron Mount RoyalRecent data has shown that both the job market and job growth has slowed in Canada’s largest metropolitan centres, including Montreal. While Central Canada, including Quebec, has led the growth in the last year, with the exception of cities like Kitchener and Ottawa in Ontario and Sherbrooke in Quebec, that growth is slowing slightly.

This past year, Quebec, and specifically Montreal, has very much been a positive employment and jobs story in Canada with consistent unemployment rates below the Canadian average due to a strong economy. Underlying all this is a very significant labour shortage, plus an aging population and over 100,000 estimated positions currently going unfilled. In fact, the recent Quebec Provincial election featured the skills shortage and how to address it as a very prominent issue for all the parties.

Nowhere is this more an issue in Quebec than in the technology sector. There are 250,000 tech jobs in Quebec. In Montreal and Quebec City, the tech sector is the third largest private sector employer, behind traditional companies in Financial Services and Telecom. It is led by exciting companies in Artificial Intelligence and Video Game technology. Provincial subsidy programs have targeted job growth in technology and Quebec’s technology sector has essentially been at full employment for a very long time. Montreal is now recognized as one of the top cities in North America for AI talent.

The last several months, we at Eagle have seen a very strong increase in demand for both permanent and contract resources in our Montreal office and there is an almost acute shortage of candidates for most client requirements. Clients are and will continue to adjust to this new reality by speeding up their hiring processes, having more flexibility in their must-have and desirables requirements, and in working with their staffing partners to be sure their value messages to candidates are fresh and attractive.

Some of the most sought after roles in recent months in Montreal include Project Managers, Developers, Tester/QA roles, System Analysts and Business Analysts.

The Internet Will Be Unhackable by 2034

At least that’s what Futurism predicts in this timeline of the future of technology. They say that “a satellite network using entangled photons for quantum key distribution (QKD) will create a full secure, unhackable internet.” That’s among many other exciting/scary/far-fetched predictions, including underwater cities by 2055!

Whether or not you believe this infographic, it’s fun to look at and many of the predictions are believable. Do you think we’ll be mining active submarine volcanoes in 10 years or buying holographic pets in 2041?

Does Everyone Really Need to Learn to Code?

As an IT contractor, you will not be surprised to hear that experts forecast a surge in programming jobs for many years to come. Consumers are continuing to demand new technology at increasing paces and IT companies will meet or exceed those demands so they can remain competitive. The result is a common train of thought that everyone should learn how to code because their job is going to require it. Even on this blog, we’ve made this argument and a recent quick poll proves that many IT professionals agree.

But this video from PolyMatter has a different opinion. Instead, they argue the push for teaching everyone to code is strictly political and, in fact, a developer role is nothing more than a skilled career path like a surgeon. “It is just a job, not a basic universal skill.” What do you think? Should everyone learn to code?

IT Industry News for September 2018

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

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on October 5, 2018

This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the ICT industry for September 2018.

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 September in previous years …

Blackberry devicesFive years ago in September 2013 Blackberry announced a quarterly loss of almost $1 million and laid off 4,500 people. Microsoft bought Nokia’s devices and services unit for more than $7 billion. Ebay paid $800 million for payment platform Braintree; Synnex bought IBM’s customer care division for $505 million; Rogers added to its data centre capacity with the $161 million purchase of Pivot Data Centres; Extreme Networks bought Entersys Networks for $180 million; and Manitoba Telephone Systems bought Epic Information Systems.

Microsoft logoSeptember 2014 saw some big deals announced, including Microsoft’s $2.5 billion purchase of gaming company Minecraft, Lenovo’s $2.1 billion purchase of IBM’s x86 server business and Cognizant’s $2.7 billion purchase of healthcare company, Trizetto Corp.  Hootsuite had an injection of cash and bought two companies, social telephony company Zeetl and social media marketing platform Brightkit.  Google also made two acquisitions, biotech company Lift Labs and desktop polling company Polar. There were plenty more deals announced, including Yahoo’s $8 million purchase of cloud based document hosting company Bookpad; Cisco’s purchase of private cloud company Metacloud; SAP’s purchase of expense software company Concur; Blackberry’s purchase of virtual identity software startup Movirtu and Red Hat’s purchase of mobile app company FeedHenry.

ACCENTURE LOGOTwo years ago in September 2015 there was a fair bit of M&A activity but no blockbuster deals.  Microsoft was very active, closing three deals, Adxstudio which provides web based solutions for Dynamics CRM; app developer Double Labs; and cloud security firm Adallom.  Accenture picked up the cloud services company Cloud Sherpas; IBM added cloud software startup StrongLoop; Netsuite paid $200 million for cloud based marketing company Bronto Software; and Blackberry paid $425 million for competitor Good Technology.  Hardware company Konica Minolta bought IT Weapons; Qualcomm bought medical device and data management company Capsule Technologies; Networking and storage company Barracuda Networks bought online backup and disaster recovery company Intronis; and Compugen bought some of the assets of another Canadian company Metafore.

HP logoSeptember 2016 saw Tech Data pay $2.6 Billion for the technology solutions group of Avnet, and HP made the biggest printer acquisition to date, paying $1.05 Billion for Samsung’s printer business.  Other deals saw Google pay $625 million for Apogee, and restaurant company Subway bought online order taking software company Avanti Commerce.  One investment that caught my eye, in the staffing world saw Accenture invest in crowdtesting company Applause.

Last year September 2017 saw Google splash out $1.1 Billion to acquire HTC’s pixel team, strengthening its own smartphone capabilities.  In an interesting move IKEA bought gig economy company TaskRabbit, so perhaps you won’t need to put that furniture together yourself in the future!  HPE bought Cloud Technology Partners, presumably to strengthen its capabilities in that area and possibly access new clients.  Finally Edmonton company F12.net bought Vancouver’s ONDeck Systems as it pursues its goal to be a National IT Service Provider.

Which brings us back to the present …

September 2018 saw some big deals and some familiar names … with Adobe’s $4.5 million purchase of Marketo the big deal of the month.  Not a true tech play but Sirius XM paid $3.6 billion for Pandora, and with digital/media/tech convergence it seemed like a fit.  There has been some data centre news lately, largely driven by the growth in cloud computing and Digital Realty is expanding its footprint with the $1.8 billion purchase of Brazil’s Ascenty.  SS&C continues on its acquisition path and growth in the financial services world with the $1.5 billion acquisition of Intralinks.  Vonage paid $300 million for contact centre as a service company NewVoiceMedia; Microsoft was adding to its AI portfolio buying Lobe; Intel bought a startup, NetSpeed to help with its IoT chips; Cognizant added to its Salesforce capabilities with the Advanced Technology Group buy; Infosys also added Salesforce capability in Europe, buying Fluido; and Slack is adding an AI driven email client to its portfolio with the purchase of Astro.

Facebook logoOther companies in the news were Facebook for announcing its first Asian datacenter, to be opened in Singapore; and Verizon for its cost cutting mode, starting with voluntary retirements, but more to come!

Not surprisingly the US economy continues to hum along, with CDG growth rate of 4.2%, strong hiring outlooks and all indicators showing positive.  The only negatives appear to be a growing skills shortage, but that is echoed around the world.  Canada lost jobs in August after a couple of months of growth, and GDP growth is half of the US rate.  The OECD suggests that unemployment rates are steady in OECD countries, and one outlook says 43 of 44 countries are planning to add jobs.

An interesting report from South Korea highlights the growing phenomena of senior citizens working because the social systems are not strong.  We can expect to see more of that here in North America too, because people are living longer, are more active and the extra income will be needed!

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 October 2018 tech news in just about a month’s time.

 Until then, Walk Fast and Smile!

The Marijuana Industry is an Exciting Place for Canadian IT Professionals

Brianne Risley By Brianne Risley,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

The Medical Marijuana Industry is an Exciting Place for Canadian IT ProfessionalsCannabis — growing, selling, legislating… as we lead into the October 17th legalization date, there has been hyper-focus on what effect this emerging industry will have in Canada. Whether you love it or hate it, the disruption in the market has created some fascinating gaps where enterprising Information Technology professionals can innovate, create, retro-fit, and grow into a brand-new field. Some of Canada’s most exciting IT jobs are in the Marijuana industry!

The rapid growth of the cannabis industry has created a network of competing, well-funded, start-up companies who are up against a time crunch to absorb people and processes to get product to market and the enabler for all of this is technology. The emerging and bleeding-edge skills that are in-demand and being implemented in this sector can fuel an IT professional across the next 10 years of their career! This industry has the exciting IT Career Buzzwords tech pros crave:

  • Automation: Automated or robotic systems are needed to fertilize, water, and control ambient temperature to maximize yield, decrease risk, add predictability to a harvest, and certainty around a supply chain. You’ve heard of Fin-Tech… this “Grow-Tech” has ramifications for all agri-food verticals.
  • Business Process Re-engineering: What are we doing today? Has anyone written it down? How can we make this bigger/better/faster? What technology hurtles are weighing us down? What can we innovate/change? Documenting and building frameworks of repeatable processes where none existed before is an exciting proposition.
  • Change Management: Disruption, M&A work, new systems, new employees, training – this is a perfect storm for helping people manage through technology and process change.
  • Data and Reporting: How can I track my supply chain? Are there predictive analytics that can help me with forecasting? How do I use reports to balance risk and the reporting requirements of a highly regulated healthcare environment? Data scientists and reporting specialists will be in demand to create models for this business.
  • ERP: There aren’t specialized ERP packages that deal with this segment of business yet. The opportunity comes from being able to retrofit mid-market packages to support the SCM, Manufacturing, and Pharma/Health aspects of the business, and customizing these elements for the future.
  • E-commerce: How do you build and deploy a scalable, user-friendly, and secure e-commerce website? The lessons learned in this space have broad-market appeal to any client in the Retail industry and is a highly desirable skill.
  • Remote Monitoring: Video feeds to control quality, control systems to adjust variables in production — the data storage systems required to track this, along with the infrastructure connectivity in field sites opens all sorts of interesting dynamics.
  • Security: Logical and physical security to ensure there is a safe product to sell to market.

Broadly speaking, this industry isn’t for everyone. Operating in “start-up” mode for companies that are going through heavy transition can create personal and professional uncertainty. In describing the ideal person for this kind of work, I would say the following: it’s your calling to build things — you see frameworks where nothing existed before. You will be at the forefront of building out a global manufacturing and supply chain network. You will customize, deploy, and adapt Cloud technologies to solve emerging issues in the ERP, E-commerce, and asset management space. You will build process and structure on demand where none existed before to become an industry leader in a burgeoning health field – Medical or Recreational Marijuana.

Eagle is currently working with several major Medical Marijuana clients who are looking to build-out their team with smart, information technology professionals. Willingness to relocate to Western Canada is key as we build-out these teams. If you are interested in finding out more about what a career in this field might entail, I would encourage you to create a profile on our job board and reach out to your Eagle recruiter.

Join us as we assist in creating the foundations of a lucrative new IT vertical!

Today’s State of Digital Transformation

Today's State of Digital TransformationEvery year, principal analyst of Futurum and CEO of Broadsuite Media Group, Daniel Newman, compiles a list of digital transformation trends and predictions which are published by Forbes.  In his articles, he explores the latest developments in areas such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and IoT. Recently, Newman took some time to review his predictions and assess where digital transformation is at so far in 2018 and summarized ten specific observations. Below are his thoughts:

IoT Everywhere

Last year, I said that there were three main trends with IoT at the core—analytics, edge computing, and 5G—and that’s still true today. While some of these trends have really taken off in the last six months—I’m looking at you, analytics—others are just starting to really burgeon into a new frontier. There was a reason I had IoT first on my list, it’s paving the way for these trends and will likely continue to do so for years to come.

Analytics

Advanced analytics are showing just how powerful the IoT really is. This year, the data from our IoT initiatives were supposed to be driven by a higher level of analytics, changing manufacturing, healthcare, smart cities and more. And guess what? It’s working.

Truck manufacturer Navistar is now monitoring its fleet of 180,000 trucks using real-time data thanks to IoT and analytics. They are managing refueling and analyzing driver behavior to assess whether goods have been spoiled in transit. And this is only one of a plethora of success stories from all over the world.

Everything at the Edge with Cloud Still Critical

We have heard about the concept of edge computing exploding throughout the tech world. And last year, this was the thought: the edge will become real-world micro-data centers where everything that used to happen in data centers can happen in real-time without them. However, I‘m amending that thought. Now, data centers and edge computing need to work in harmony.

According to the Futurum 2018 Edge Computing Index, 64 percent of respondents are focused on combining edge computing and data center analytics and 72 percent have already begun implementing edge computing strategies. These companies are turning to IBM, Dell, Microsoft, and Cisco—to name a few—to help implement edge computing hardware solutions to improve efficiency in their data centers. It’s clear that edge computing and data centers are just getting started and this trend will continue for years to come.

5G Early Deployments Successful—Still Waiting for Mainstream Adoption

Last year, I said that the amount of data IoT devices produce will push providers to 5G faster, and while that’s still true we are still waiting for it to go mainstream. The early 5G deployments are making meaningful strides though. Intel and Nokia have shown great promise with several deployments in a wide spectrum of industries. These deployments all show that we are clearly at the precipice of 5G tech and that businesses stand to gain a lot from mainstream adoption. I also shared my thoughts on the eventual winners of 5Gwith Qualcomm, Ericsson and Dell EMC making the list. This will definitely be a trend to keep watching in the coming years.

Blockchain Finds Its Way—Well, Sort of

Blockchain, blockchain, blockchain. It’s definitely reached peak buzzword status, but it’s also finding its way outside the financial sector. Major cloud providers are now offering blockchain as a Service for increased security measures. Blockchain is also poised to disrupt industries and departments from banking to HR. But while there’s a lot of talk about blockchain tech, we aren’t seeing many smaller companies adopt the technology. Now I ask the question, how do you know if blockchain is right for your company? I think there’s still a lot of potential in this field, but it’s definitely taking longer than I expected.

AI Is Now Mainstream

“Alexa, turn off the light.” “Siri, lock the front door.” “Cortana, what’s my schedule for tomorrow?” These are just a few of the commands that I said to my AI devices today. These virtual assistants are the norm, now. So much so, that companies are finding ways to add AI into their programs to make life easier for employees and consumers. We now have AI assistants embedded in our computer systems, platforms and software. Companies are using chatbots to aid their customer service. Again, I think we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to AI power, so this trend will remain on my must-watch list for at least a few more years.

AR Takes Flight While VR Stagnates

AR has endless ways of improving our interaction with technology. However, VR is taking a backseat, albeit slowly. Last year, businesses were discovering that AR is cheaper and easier to use next to VR. With 3-D virtualization, companies can better train, pitch, and envision new products, without the large expense of VR.

Although VR still seems to be lagging a bit farther behind, there is still quite a way to go before AR or VR will reach its full fruition. There is lots of promise and opportunity, but not much has come to fruition yet. Companies are working on applications and cross-platform solutions that will hopefully open the floodgates at some point soon. For now, consumers are finding it difficult to place their funds in the young tech.

Fast Failure as a Service or FaaS

People want to buy FaaS. Rapid prototyping, 3-D visualization and other fast fail methods will not only stay trendy, they will become a strategic initiative for all businesses. Companies such as Gremlin are marketing “chaos engineering” which are made to break your production environments on purpose. Why? So you can learn how to turn your short term failures into wins. This one was one of the hardest to assess, but I stand by my prediction here that digital agility starts and ends with the ability to change quickly, especially when an idea doesn’t turn out as good as once thought.

Company Culture Is Still the Biggest Hurdle

Primary Factors Helping Organizations Drive Digital TransformationIn the article from last year, I mentioned that if your company is struggling with culture issues then, they would struggle even harder this year. It is true. We still have to recognize that the digital transformation must be people-focused first. We must lead with experiences and seek out where technology enables and enhances those things to improve our culture. Having visited with organizations around the world this year, I continue to hear about the challenge of bringing people on board and this year’s digital transformation index showed culture as the #2 hurdle only behind technology partnerships. Want to know more? I’ve made it easy for you, if you’re still struggling, take a look at the five critical steps to take to improve your culture.

Digital Transformation Isn’t a Buzzword—It’s the Way

It isn’t just a buzzword. From last year to today, this has remained unchanged. Companies must expedite their digital transformation to drive their business forward. They must adapt to technological changes, work to improve the CX and fight for growth and opportunity. All of these technological advancements, whether on the fringe or in the middle of success, have the opportunity to change the face of business forever. In the coming year we may see the vernacular change, but transforming our businesses to deal with the digital deluge is here to stay. Are you ready?

Daniel Newman is CEO of Broadsuite Media Group, principal analyst at Futurum and author of Futureproof.

How Tech Rates and Salaries are Shaping Up in 2018

In the last few months, various sources have released information on the salaries and hourly rates of technology professionals. Two of those sources are Dice, which compiled data from the US Board of Labor Statistics, and Inc., who shared an infographic containing data from LinkedIn and designed by MobileMonkey.

As we enter into the final quarter of 2018, it’s worth taking a look at rates and salaries in the technology industry to understand where we’re going. Numbers from both sources are based on the United States so while salaries will not necessarily reflect Canadian salaries, the skills demand usually remains consistent. It provides an idea of which jobs are expected to produce the most opportunity, so an aspiring IT professional can better plan their future.

The 15 Highest (and lowest) Paying Jobs in Tech

The 15 Highest (and lowest) Paying Jobs in Tech

The Top 25 Most In-Demand Skills of 2018

The Top 25 Most In-Demand Skills of 2018

The Benefits of Working Remotely for IT Contractors and their Clients

Crystal Nicol By Crystal Nicol,
Delivery Manager, Eastern Canada at Eagle

Are you looking for a way to improve your work/life balance? Or are you looking for ways to increase your productivity and lower the number of unpaid sick days you have to take? Then maybe the introduction of remote work should be considered. Each day, more and more independent contractors are joining the “working from home” bandwagon.

The reality is that commuters face delays on a regular basis. Whether it’s because buses are late, trains are delayed or cancelled or there is congestion on the roads, it causes our commute times to double or even triple in length. This is one of the strongest reasons why more IT professionals are implementing flexible working schedules and working from home on client projects.

We all know commuting can often be time consuming, stressful and expensive. The modern business model includes more flexibility for their workers. Companies are providing their employees with an incentive to work from home a certain number of days each week, which allows the workers to avoid long commutes and is saving them the transportation costs. So why not do the same for yourself?

In this technological age, even educators are paving the way to learn from home. Students often have the option to listen to seminars remotely or take quizzes online from the comfort of their home. And even though they are doing a large majority of the work from home, they are still successfully graduating, proving that people can be successful from wherever they work.

Many of your clients and their employees are already on board with this way of thinking. An article from WomensPost.ca shows that a 2017 FlexJobs study of 5,500 people found that a work-life balance was critical to the productivity and success of a company. Out of all the survey respondents, 62 percent said they have left or considered leaving a job because of the lack of work flexibility. An even higher response of 66 percent said they were more productive working from a home office as there were less interruptions from coworkers, fewer distractions, less commuter stress, and they were removed from any office politics.

So will you be more productive when working remotely? You’ll be able to work (and therefore bill) extra hours in the time you’re not commuting. The better work-life balance also means you are less likely to get ill in the first place because stress levels are typically lower. And since you are not commuting, you’ll find more time for your activities, such as going to the gym or spending more quality time with your family. According to an article from the Telegraph, a study by Canada Life found that home workers took fewer sick days compared to those based in the office. The study found that employees working in an office took on average 3.1 sick days last year, whilst homeworkers only took 1.8 sick days and employees who have a cold or are mildly sick can still get work done at home, while office workers are more inclined to take the entire day off to avoid leaving the comfort of their home.

There are, of course, some challenges in working from home:

  1. First of all, the job itself must have the necessary tools to allow for remote work.
  2. Secondly, you must be independent and self-directed in order to be productive while working without guidance.
  3. Thirdly, trust is a big factor for this. If there is no trust between you and your client, then they will begin questioning your timesheets and you will lose out on future references.

Personally, I think a mix of both models is best. One in which you work from home on a certain day or days, but otherwise spend time at the client site to connect with the employees and managers for face-to-face meetings and collaboration. Even one or two days out of the work week spent working remotely does wonders for your mental health, morale, and productivity.

The world of work is dramatically changing. In a competitive world, flexible working schedules are creating healthier and happier workers and increasing productivity. The evidence so far suggests that working remotely benefits clients just as much as it benefits their independent contractors.