Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Trends

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

IT Industry News for June 2018

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

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on July 11th, 2018.

This is my 30,000-foot look at events in the ICT industry for June 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 June in previous years

Tech NewsFive years ago, 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 of 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 the last 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; and 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; 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.

June 2017 saw Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. Westcon-Comstar’s American business was being bought by Synnex for approximately $800 million. US fintech provider, Fiserv, purchased British financial services technology firm, Monitise for $88.7 million. Microsoft purchased Israli cloud startup, Cloudyn, for a price between $50 million and $70 million. Rackspace acquired TriCore in an effort to increase their business from customers who want help running their critical applications. Ebix Inc. entered into a joint venture with Essel Group while acquiring a majority stake in ItzCash for $120 million.

Which brings us back to the present

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 is paying $300 million for Security company Evident.io; PayPal is shelling out $120 million for fraud detection startup Simility; Splunk is paying $120 million for incident management platform company VictorOps; Ribbon Communication is paying $120 million for Edgewater Networks; and Sharp is paying $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.

Skills shortages were a theme around the world as hiring plans in most countries are positive. Confidence is high in many economies, including Canada’s despite the storm clouds surrounding NAFTA negotiations and the trade war with the US. Speaking of the US, their economy continues to roll along with very favorable indicators almost everywhere.

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 2018 industry news in just about a month’s time.

Walk Fast and Smile.

Regional Job Market Update for Toronto

Brendhan Malone By Brendhan Malone,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

Toronto… The Place to Be for Technology

Toronto, Ontario CanadaToronto has long been recognized as a centre of technology in Canada.  That reputation only grows with each passing month and year.  Toronto is among the best cities in the world to work in technology and there are over half a million working in the technology space in Toronto.  This number is growing fast as is the roughly 25% of those that are self-employed. Plus, a recent study by the Compass Group showed that Toronto’s tech growth is outpacing the rest of the country almost 5-1.

What is responsible for this growth?  It is a number of things and anytime in economics or business that there are numerous factors to growth, that is a very good thing.

Let’s look first at the straw that stirs the drink for Toronto’s Tech sector — our major financial institutions.  The Big 5 are all headquartered in Toronto and in 2018 continue to invest massively in technology.  Cloud computing, security, application development, risk management through technology, customer experience, are all areas that the banks continue to invest in.

The Major Telco’s equally influence the Toronto Technology sector.  The intense competition for customers has led to significant investment in a better customer experience through technology.  This competition also drives investment in the latest network and cellular technologies to bring faster speeds and better experiences for their customers.  2018 has been a huge year for this type of infrastructure investment in Toronto and elsewhere.

The new world business Goliaths such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter have all recently invested money and resourcing in Toronto and continue to grow their presence in 2018.  In today’s world of technology, you can never really be a true world technology hub without their presence.

And let us not forget the importance of a vibrant environment for start-ups.  Uber, Airbnb, Facebook, were all start-ups at one time, making it critical that Toronto maintains a not only viable but an exciting environment for start-ups to take root.  Companies like Top Hat, Bridget, and others are following in the footsteps of more established start-ups like Shop.ca and Fresh Books.  2018 has seen an incredible number of start-ups show us exciting things in Toronto.

The landscape is bright for technology in in Toronto in 2018.  The battle for talent is fierce but it also shows that this is where a huge pool of talent resides.  The healthy mix of factors described above has Toronto in a good place for years to come.  If you are technology professional in Toronto it appears you are in the right place.

Soft Skills Research That May Surprise You

The greatest IT professionals — both contractors and full-time employees — are extremely skilled in their technical areas. Where the average professional is lost and confused with technology beyond MS Office, IT workers have an uncanny ability to create complex programs, fix the most confusing bugs, and organize data to provide intelligence that a business owner never thought was possible. Having these skills are the pillars to landing a lucrative tech gig, but as we’ve discussed many times in the Talent Development Centre, improving your soft skills will make you competitive in your search for IT jobs.

There are an unlimited number of soft skills out there that you can improve and deciding where to put your focus can be a daunting task. A recent contractor quick poll found that IT professionals want their co-workers to have good communication skills, emotional intelligence and time management. We also shared an infographic last year that gave more specific insight into what soft skills are most important for a Project Manager. For what should be a simple topic, when we dig into soft skills, it can easily get complicated.

Earlier this year, business consulting company West Monroe Partners conducted a study to answer questions about a soft skills gap in IT and what soft skills companies look for in technology candidates. You can download the complete report here, but if you’d prefer a good summary, InformationWeek summarized the top 10 findings:

  1. 98% of HR recruiters look for soft skills when hiring tech workers
  2. 81% of organizations ask business leaders to evaluate IT job candidates’ soft skills
  3. Most business leaders say IT pros’ soft skills are equal to or better than those of other departments
  4. Half of organizations use personality tests to assess soft skills
  5. Recruiters say IT job candidates are good at verbal communication
  6. HR recruiters say leadership is the least important skill for IT pros
  7. Organizations in NYC want flexibility and conflict resolution skills
  8. Older people want teamwork and flexibility; younger people want leadership and conflict resolution skills
  9. Male and female hiring managers look for the same soft skills
  10. Different industries have different soft skills requirements

What can we take from all of this? The good news is that if you’re part of the majority, your soft skills are exactly where they need to be! If you want to focus on something, flexibility and conflict resolution look to be the top priorities in IT hiring managers, where leadership is the least. It’s also worth keeping in mind that these priorities vary by industry.

More Tech Trends to Expect Before the Year’s Through

Regardless of how intrenched you are in technology during your everyday life, somehow, technological advances continue to surprise and awe all of us as the innovations are announced. It’s exciting (and sometimes scary) to think about where we’ll be in 10, 20 or even 50 years and looking back, it’s crazy to think about where we were just 10 years ago. Have you ever taken a look back to see where we were 1 year ago?

The amount that can happen within just a year is unreal and 2018 is not expected to be any different. Already headlines have been filled with Blockchain and AI breakthroughs, and companies keep releasing new devices that change the way we live. Back in January, Interquest Group published an infographic that predicted trends for 2018. While some are starting to take shape, others still aren’t quite here yet.

Are you the geeky tech type who likes to be on top of all trends as they come? If so, how do you think we’re doing on these predictions and will they all come true by December?

Top 10 Strategic Tech Trends 2018 - #infographic

Quick Poll Results: Is There a Place for Pets in the Workplace?

In last month’s contractor quick poll, we asked our readers what they thought about pet-friendly offices. Workplace trends are seeing more and more of them today (including at Eagle); however, many other companies prefer to restrict the policy to support animals only.

Typically our Quick Polls get results with an obvious winner and most of our readers agree with each other. It looks like this time we found a topic that has the community divided. After a solid month published on the Talent Development Centre, the results are in and while close to half of the surveyed IT contractors are happy about pet-friendly client sites, an equal amount see no place for them.

Quick Poll Results: Pet-Friendly Workplaces

How Hackers Get Around Two-Factor Authentication

Two factor authentication is an extra security measure a lot of people have begun to use to further protect their accounts and personal information from being hacked. This authentication method sends a text to your phone with a code that must be inputted within a minute to log in.

However according to Tech Insider’s interview with Kevin Mitnick, hackers have ways to even bypass this. An example he uses is when Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson had his twitter hacked. While there’s no need for constant paranoia, this video suggests tips to stay aware of the common tricks hackers use.

Has The Calgary Market Finally “Turned The Corner”?

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President Strategic Accounts & Client Solutions, Western Canada at Eagle

It has been two (plus?) very long and difficult years for the Alberta economy, especially so in Calgary. Tens of thousands of people had lost jobs and/or have had to take wage or rate cuts. The trickle-down effect from this to the broader economy was huge. Compared to the economic dip created during the 2008/2009 world financial crisis, this was a “valley” for the local economy. During this time, Alberta went from a “have” province to a “have-not” one, adding deficit spending in the billions of dollars. Market rates for contract work fell and more closely matched those in the rest of Canada. The “Alberta Advantage” had all but disappeared.

The City of Calgary has been working very hard to attract new companies to the city and diversify the industry. Over the final months of 2017, Eagle had witnessed some new, small projects popping up here and there. This was partly due to M&A activity, but was mostly outside of the Oil and Gas (O&G) space. This new activity was spotty at best and all companies didn’t participate in a general sense. However, since the New Year the feeling has been more optimistic across a broader base of companies. Big O&G companies are holding their own, although they’re not driving a lot of the new projects. But outside of these, work is beginning to show up again.

In the Information Technology and Communication sectors we are seeing cloud, security, infrastructure, and some new development projects being rolled out. And there does appear to be more companies participating this time. Rates have halted their decline, although there hasn’t been much upward movement either.

Also, an interesting situation has occurred on the skills side of things. It had been common practice that IT consultants relied on new, leading edge projects to keep their skills up-to-date. However, with the lack of projects available over the past two years some are finding their experience/skills have fallen behind where technology is at today. And as companies spark up their new projects, they are looking for employees/independent contractors with knowledge and experience in the latest technology. Oddly enough this has created a skills shortage in certain areas within the market, despite supply and demand being closer to a balance than it has been in a very long time. It will be interesting to see where this takes us.

So, has Calgary officially turned the corner economically speaking? It feels as if it has. I would love to be able to report emphatically and with confidence that things are on the upswing. However, only time will tell. When Calgary came out of the financial recession in 2009/2010, we had one of the busiest summers ever. People were trying to make up for lost time on the projects and lost billings for their businesses. Work and projects were plentiful, and we saw many people foregoing their vacations in favour of getting caught up.

But will this time be different? After two years of depressed economic conditions, one would think that there would be some appetite to make hay. But people are also fatigued. Over the past years, those that were able to find opportunities had to push through working as many hours as possible. When between assignments, they were working extra hard to find their next gig. There wasn’t a lot of rest or downtime over this very long period. So maybe a rest is needed and work will slow over the summer. The continued growth of our economy requires that we get our second wind and push through. The activity level over the next two months will show whether Calgary is back to growing again or whether this will be the new normal (for a while longer, at least).

What do you think? What are your feelings on this subject? Share your prediction by leaving a comment below!

IT Industry News for May 2018

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

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on June 11th, 2018.

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000-foot look at events in the ICT industry for May 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 May in previous years …

Five years ago, in May 2013, Yahoo purchased Tumblr for $1.1 billion. The $6.9 billion deal to take BMC Software private however did not cause the same kind of splash … the power of the brand? Manitoba Tel decided to shed its Allstream division to a holding company for $520 million; McAfee paid $389 million for Finnish security firm Stonesoft; Dell added to its cloud capabilities with the purchase of Estratius; AVG bought PrivacyChoice; and Ottawa based N-Able Technologies became one more Canadian company to be bought by a larger US company, this time Solarwinds for $120 million.

In May 2014, AT&T paid $50 billion for DirectTV and Apple paid $3 billion for Beats. Google continued to invest in its Android strategy this time with a strategy company, Divide, that will bring help breaking into the enterprise. Other acquisitions saw Seagate pay $450 million for some flash capability from Avago (the LSI divisions); GE bought cyber security firm Wurdtech; EMC bought a flash (see the trend) start-up DSSD; Time Warner bought Youtube video network FullScreen; and SAP bought behavioral target marketing company SeeWhy.

HP logoMay 2015 saw some very large deals on the M&A front, with the biggest seeing Charter Communications spend $55 Billion to buy Time Warner Cable and a further $10.4 Billion to buy Bright House Networks. This creates the second largest cable company in the US, just behind Comcast. The “Billion-dollar club” also saw French Telco Altice pay $9.1 Billion for another US cable company Suddenlink Communications. Keeping with the billion dollar deals involving telcos, Verizon paid $4.4 Billion for AOL to bolster its mobile video capabilities. Another Billion dollar deal saw HP unload 70% of its stake in its China server, storage and technology storage unit to Tsinghua Holdings for $2.3 billion. The final billion-dollar deal saw EMC pay $1.2 billion for cloud service provider Virtustream. Apple was out buying a couple of companies in May, snapping up mapping company Coherent Navigation and augmented reality company Metaio. In other deals Avaya bought cloud technology company Esna; and Cisco bought cloud programming interface company Tropo.

May 2016 saw some M&A activity with the largest deal seeing HPE merge its services arm with CSC in a $8.5 billion deal to create arguably the largest IT services company. In another large deal Vista Equity Partners is paying $1.79 billion for customer service and marketing cloud provider Marketo. There were some other big names out shopping in May too. Oracle paid $532 million for software as a service for the utilities vertical, company Opower; Google picked up interactive training platform Synergyse; Infor bought consulting services company Merit Globe AS; and ARM paid $350 million for imaging and embedded systems company Apical. Microsoft ended an unhappy period by divesting its feature phone business to FIH mobile for $350 million, and GoDaddy picked up cloud based phone company FreedomVoice for $43 million. New Signature picked up another Microsoft solution provider, Dot Net Solutions; and Edmonton based F12.Net bought Calgary-based professional services company XCEL.

The apple logo and apple with a bite out of itThe most significant purchase in May 2017 was the $1.86 billion sale of CenturyLink’s data centres and colocation business to a consortium led by BC Partners, Medina Capital Advisors and Longview Asset Management. Cybersecurity startup, Hexadite, was bought by Microsoft for $100 million. Goldman Sachs entered the BI space by purchasing a minority stake in Information Builders of New York City. Apple acquired Beddit, a Finnish sleep sensor product, for an undisclosed amount. Finnish cybersecurity firm, F-Secure acquired British security consultants, Digital Assurance also for an undisclosed amount

Which brings us back to the present …

Microsoft logoMay 2018 was a very active month for M&A activity, with Microsoft’s $7.5 Billion purchase of GitHub leading the pack in size.  Microsoft also bought AI company Semantic Machines.  Paypal paid $2.2 Billion for European payments company iZettle; Recruit paid $2.1 Billion for Glassdoor; Investment firm KKR paid $2 Billion for BMC Software; and Office Depot paid $1 Billion for CompuCom.  Other big names out shopping saw Oracle buy collaboration platform Datascience.com; Google bought cloud migration startup Velostrata; HPE bought Plexxi; Rackspace bought RelationEdge;and Splunk bought Phantom Cyber Company.  There were a number of other deals … perhaps too many to mention.

In a display of how careful we need to be online these days, two Canadian banks, BMO and CIBC Simplifi Financial announced online breaches by hackers who were holding them ransom.

On the economic front the US continues its march, posting strong job numbers and many positive indicators. Around the world the job numbers for most countries were generally positive.

Here in Canada Amazon announced an investment in Vancouver that will generate up to 3,000 jobs, employment numbers were little changed from March and GDP growth was relatively weak.

That is my look at the May tech industry news. The full edition will be available soon on the Eagle website. Hope this was useful and I’ll be back with the June 2018 industry news in just about a month’s time… until then, walk fast and smile!——————————————————————————————————————————
Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Ottawa Regional Job Market Update

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

Amazon has Chosen Ottawa!

That’s what they call the attention grabber! Though the title is true, it’s not the highly publicized Amazon HQ from October 2017, but rather a large logistics warehouse. Despite it not being the “Amazon Jackpot” we all heard about, it will nevertheless produce 1000 good, middle class jobs.

Traditionally, the Ottawa job market has been driven by the Federal Government and it’s by far the single biggest employer. But news like the Amazon warehouse has started some exciting conversations locally about the increased activity seen in Ottawa’s Private Sector. Ottawa’s high tech sector, once the pinnacle of the late 90’s/early 2000 economic boom, which led to Ottawa being referred to as Silicon Valley North, is now pared down. However, it is still led by the mighty $15 billion dollar global electronic commerce star, Shopify. The bulk of the company is in Ottawa and has been on an ever expanding hiring bonanza for several months now. Other high tech companies, albeit much smaller but not insignificant, like You.i TV ,Klipfolio , Kinaxis and Mindbridge AI have also driven up hiring in the high tech sector.

All of this is good news for the Ottawa economy, but the government or more broadly the Public Sector is still the straw that stirs the drink. The Trudeau government has been on a hiring frenzy since 2015. We already know that the Public Sector in Ontario has created 5 jobs to every 1 in the Private Sector for the last several years, but whether that is a sustainable formula is a topic for another day (Hint: it’s not)!

The broader Public Sector in Ottawa, in addition to the Feds, include the City that employs 20,000 employees, the universities with 12,000+, and the hospitals with another 11,000. These are all jobs that tend not to disappear, quite the opposite in fact. All of this has contributed to a blazing hot unemployment rate of 4.4% in May, the lowest in over a decade. The unemployment rate in tech, though not specifically measured, would be a mere fraction of the overall rate.

The Feds have added 1900 jobs in April alone. Shared Services Canada (SSC) is the most prominent having added 300+ in the last year. We know many of these jobs have been life time contractors converting to FTE’s in the Government. This caused a level of concern for many IT staffing agencies in Ottawa, as they suffer both a loss of revenue and the scarcity of quality candidates becomes even more exacerbated.

At Eagle, the greatest demand in Ottawa in the last quarter as been in these categories:

  1. Architect
  2. Project Manager
  3. Developer
  4. Database Administrator
  5. Systems Analyst

The Emerging War for Tech Talent

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

We weren’t surprised to see the recent unemployment numbers in tech coming out of the US, since it’s becoming increasingly apparent that Canada is experiencing the same war for talent.

At Eagle’s permanent placement division, we have had an increased number of requests for developers. While the usual niche skills are in very high demand (Data Science, Machine Learning, Security), clients seem to be struggling to secure solid tech talent in more common areas. There seem to be more opportunities out there, particularly for experienced Java Developers, than there is talent.

Many developers choose to work as independent contractors. The appeal is obvious with the flexibility of projects/work. High rates are also a primary factor for choosing to work on a contract basis rather than full-time. But with some clients wanting to build out high performing engineering teams and keep this talent in house, they are having to come up with new and interesting ways to attract them.

Clients are now having to offer very competitive and comprehensive compensation packages. This is not unlike the trend we have seen in the US with unlimited vacation days, flexible working hours, remote work, and much higher base salaries. What may surprise some is that one of the key factors to attracting great candidates is offering them the opportunity to work with leading edge technology. A recent Forbes article states that “40% of employees had already left a job because they didn’t have access to the latest digital tools.”

We have experienced some scenarios in the past few weeks where employers have lost candidates because they failed to move through the process quickly enough and gained additional clients because internal recruitment efforts just can’t keep up with the demand. Solid developers are highly sought after and if they are considering a career move, they will typically be considering multiple offers in a very short period of time. Clients who expect candidates to go through multiple interviews and hope they will still be available 2-3 weeks after being presented, inevitably results in staffing agencies being on the losing end of this war for talent.

Working with an agency is becoming more essential as the market heats up. At Eagle we work closely with clients to:

  • Ensure that they have a carefully (and accurately) crafted an Employee Value Proposition
  • Give them unparalleled access to the ‘passive job seeker’ market
  • Provide detailed market data so that they can stay ahead of market trends and ensure their compensation is competitive
  • Keep in close contact with candidates throughout the entire process so that everyone is aware of competing offers before the candidate is off the market

With this new war for talent, it’s time for hiring organizations to start asking themselves if they’re ready to compete and what they’re going to do to attract and keep the best talent. On the flip side of the coin, with so many options available, it’s a good time for IT professionals to evaluate their own careers, develop a plan and decide where they want to be!