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

IT Industry News for September 2020

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee, Co-Founder of Eagle

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on October 19th, 2020

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

Five 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 ACCENTURE LOGOsolutions 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.

September 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 HP logoSamsung’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.

Three years ago, 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.  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 pursued its goal to be a National IT Service Provider.

There were some big deals in September 2018.  Adobe’s $4.5 million purchase of Marketo was 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.  Digital Realty expanded its data centre footprint with the $1.8 billion purchase of Brazil’s Ascenty.  SS&C paid $1.5 billion for Intralinks.  Vonage paid $300 million for contact centre as a service company NewVoiceMedia; Microsoft added to its AI portfolio, buying Lobe; Intel bought a startup, NetSpeed to help with its IoT chips; Cognizant added to its Salesforce capabilities, buying Advanced Technology Group; Infosys also added Salesforce capability in Europe, buying Fluido; and Slack addd an AI driven email client to its portfolio with the purchase of Astro.

Last year, September 2019 was relatively busy in M&A with Qualcomm’s $3.1 billion Facebook logoacquisition of TDK’s share in a RF joint venture, the largest deal of the month.  There were some big names out shopping, with Microsoft buying cloud migration company Movere; Facebook bought Wearables company Ctrl-labs (reputedly for big dollars); HP bought endpoint security company Bromium; Western Digital bought Kazan Networks; and Github bought developer tool Semmie.  Commvault paid $225 million for cloud software company Hevig and there were a few more smaller deals.

Which brings us back to the present …

In September 2020, the world continues to deal with the pandemic, with no sign of an end as yet.  Despite these challenges (or perhaps because of them) there was still a fair amount of M&A activity this month with the biggest deal seeing Nvidia pay $40 billion for chip company ArmMicrosoft splashed out in the games world, paying $7.5 billion for Zenimax media, parent company of the maker of Doom and Fallout; and the other billion dollar deal saw Ericson pay $1.1 billion for 5G specialist Cradlepoint.

Pure Storage paid $270 million for Portworx and its Kebrnetes Data Service Platform; Progress Software paid $220 million for Devops company Chef; Crowdstrike paid $896 million for cybersecurity startup Preempt Security; and Compucenter grew its North American footprint, paying $80 million for Pivot Technology Solutions.

There were some other big names making deals, with VMware buying software automation expert SaltStack; Accenture continued its buying spree with the acquisition of B2B sales automation company N3; and Cognizant grew its Microsoft team with the acquisition of 10th Magnitude.  There were a number of other deals involving lesser known names.

Other companies in the news included HP, who paid $6 million to settle charges by the SEC; and both Amazon and UPS announced some significant hiring plans.

Economies continue to struggle and unemployment numbers around the world are ugly, but there are signs of them improving with some positive signs from the US, Canada and the OECD, although we have a long way to go yet!

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

 Until then, Walk Fast and Smile … wear a mask and wash your hands!

The Rise and Fall of Sega

If you were any bit of a gamer in the late 80s/early 90s, then you know the impact Sega had on the gaming industry. From bloody Mortal Combat games to the introduction of Sonic the Hedgehog, the console seemed to have it all.

But what happened to Sega? How did it go from a sensation that dominated much of the gaming world to a nobody when the Dreamcast completely flopped? This video from Business Insider brings us the Sega story in 7 minutes. Prepare yourself for a bit of nostalgia, as well as some great business lessons to remind us all what happens when we focus our development in the wrong areas.

Should You Buy or Lease a Car?

This post first appeared on the CPA4IT Business Resources section on June 22, 2018

Is it better to buy a car under your name personally, or through a corporation? And is it better to lease – or borrow money to acquire a vehicle?

These are the two most common questions we hear all the time when it comes to buying a car.

Questions to Consider

Should You Buy or Lease a Car?

First, let’s address the question about whether it’s best to lease or buy. While most people believe this to be an accounting question, there are other factors that have a greater impact on your decision. For example:

  • Do you want a brand new car or would you be a happy with a car that is a few years old?
  • What are the current finance and lease rates?
  • How many kilometres will you drive?
  • Are you the type of person that will drive the same car for 12 years – or do you want a new car every few years?

These are the questions that ultimately affect your decision.

Tax Deduction

There are 2 methods for calculating the automobile expense: 1) mileage – and 2) actual expenses. In most situations the mileage nets a higher deduction. If you use the mileage rate, the deduction is the exact same whether you lease or buy. However, if you have an expensive lease – or simply don’t drive much – then using actual expenses may result in a greater deduction. So let’s evaluate the differences in deductions when using the actual method.

With leases you can deduct the total amount of the lease – up to a maximum of $800 a month (assuming you are Toronto-based as an example). With a purchase, you can deduct a percentage of the purchase price of the vehicle each year due to the vehicle’s depreciation in value. The maximum amount that can be depreciated for a passenger vehicle is $30,000. The vehicle can be depreciated at a rate of 15% in the first year, and 30% of the remaining balance for each subsequent year. While there is a difference between these two methods the bottom line savings is marginal.

If you’re going to buy or lease a car, we usually recommend that you do so under your own name and have your corporation reimburse you for its use of the vehicle. On the other hand, if the car is under a company name – and you use the car personally – you must reimburse the company for your personal use percentage of expenses, or take a taxable benefit into your personal income. You’ll also need to calculate a gain or loss when you sell the vehicle: this means more paperwork for your accountant and higher accounting fees for you. One of the great benefits of a corporation is limited liability. However, if your assets are owned by the corporation, you’ve limited the liability to all of your assets – which defeats the purpose.

When you’re making major life decisions such as purchasing or leasing a vehicle, we highly recommend you speak with your accountant to ensure you’re making the best decision. If you have any questions about automobile expenses – or are considering the lease or purchase of a new car – please feel free to contact us directly so we can discuss your particular situation, and assist you in making the right decision – for you.

The Secrets to Building a Successful IT Contracting Business

The Secret to Building a Successful IT Contracting BusinessIT Contractors have a cyclical challenge of finding new gigs and competing to win business. While the tasks never get easier, they can certainly seem simpler when you have the routine down to an art. When you already know what to do, where to go, and how to separate yourself from the others, it allows you to get faster wins, better serve your clients and, ultimately, charge higher rates!

To start, you need to know where to find IT contract opportunities. Indeed, your favourite recruiters and go-to job boards are sure to have some for you, but there are often additional gigs out there waiting to be found, you’re just not hearing about them. Simple Programmer published an article a few months back explaining how you can find freelance jobs that are not advertised by including these four simple concepts:

  • Talk to People: Hang out with the kind of people you want to work with at meetups, industry events, conferences, etc. Look for people in a similar role and company you’d like to work at and who are using the technologies you want to use. From there, avoid selling yourself but talk to them and build conversations.
  • Put Yourself Out There: Make sure people know what you are up to and what you are interested in. This means sharing relevant content on social media or a blog, and simply talking to like-minded professionals about what you do. The more you put yourself out there and start conversations, the more luck you have!
  • Build a Reputation: The author of the article puts it best — “Once you have the chance to work with a client and help them achieve the results they want (or better), this will lead them to tell other people about you. The other people will want those results too, and they’ll come to you when their business needs you.
  • Skip the Competition: When you hang out with your target customers and position yourself as a solution, you’ll no longer be one of 100 people who bid on a gig. You’ll be the professional they already know and trust!

The final two points are crucial to building your IT contracting business finding tech gigs with less effort, but also the most challenging to accomplish. Building that solid reputation will get you more business and allow you to bill at a premium, but you will not do it tomorrow. The good news is, Dice has some suggestions to get you there:

  • Use SOWs to Measure and Track Your Performance: If your client doesn’t already have one, work with them to create a statement of work with specific deliverables, timelines and schedules. Regularly review it and demonstrate how you’re meeting or exceeding expectations.
  • Connect Your Role to the Bigger Picture: Understand the strategic value of a project and work to make suggestions that add value. Reducing costs, decreasing errors and producing more code are all examples of how you can go above and beyond.
  • Document Your Achievements and Attributes: Keeping a regular journal of your accomplishments, conducting end-of-assignment interviews, and getting testimonials is a solid way to get your next contract. These referrals and reviews can be included in your resume, personal website or social networks and will do wonders in your job search.

Building an independent contracting business is hard enough, and getting to a point where you minimize the amount of time you spend searching for jobs is even harder. However, when you put in the work and continue to maintain those efforts, you’ll understand why so many senior IT professionals would never look back from their contracting lifestyle.

2018 in Review: Business and the Workplace

Independent contracting is no regular type of employment. On top of ongoing skills development and job searching, you have to worry about the rest of your business – accounting, taxes, marketing, networking, navigating relationships with recruiters, building your reputation… the list goes on!

If you’re drinking your coffee today and stressing over some of these areas (actually, even if that doesn’t sound like you at all right now), have a look through the list of posts below. Today, we compiled the top posts of 2018 that are related to running a business, navigating the workplace, and keeping an overall professional image.

Enjoy!

Working with Staffing Agencies

Life as a Contractor

Workplace Tips

It’s Time to Reflect on 2018 so You Can Set SMART Goals for 2019

Alison Turnbull By Alison Turnbull,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

As another year winds down and we look forward to enjoying some ‘downtime’ over the holidays, it’s a great opportunity to reflect on the past year, and think about what you would like to achieve in the upcoming year. From a career perspective, it’s important to set goals to ensure that you keep moving forward. Perhaps you have a long-term goal you are working towards but are struggling to identify how to get there. It’s extremely important to set smaller annual goals that will assist you in moving towards that larger goal.

As a consultant/contractor, it might help to reflect on the past year to help you determine what goals would be important for you. Was there an opportunity that you missed out on because you didn’t have the required certification or designation? Will achieving that in 2019 help you to land that contract that will help your career to move forward?

Perhaps you had a gap between contracts in 2018 while you tried to find your next opportunity. Setting a goal to increase your network, to connect with a mentor who is currently fulfilling the role you strive for, or to break into a new industry are all goals that can help you work towards that long-term career goal. You can also speak with a recruiter to ask for their input on what might make you more marketable. Recruiters see multiple opportunities every day and have a wealth of knowledge and insight that they are likely happy to share.

When setting goals, it’s important to ensure that they are ‘SMART’:

  • Is your goal Specific,
  • Is your goal Measurable
  • Is your goal Attainable
  • Is it Relevant (to your long term career goals)
  • And is it Time-based?

Be sure to set clear goals, to write them down, and to set timelines to hold yourself accountable.

All the best for a safe and happy holiday season, and here’s to a productive and goal oriented 2019!

Is Google an Unfair Monopoly?

Google is one of the world’s leading technology companies, viewed as an inspirational innovator to many but as an unethical threat to others. This past Summer, the European Union fined Google 4.3 billion euros for breaking antitrust laws, stating that it abused its Android market dominance. The situation continues to raise additional questions about whether or not Google is a Monopoly and if the government should do more, similar to the Microsoft situation at the end of the 20th century.

This video from CNBC International does a great job of summing up the situation, including whether or not Google is a monopoly and comparing their circumstances to similar ones in history. Do you think there should be more government intervention over Google?

How Does an Ecommerce Company Dominate Others?

Have you ever wondered how many companies there actually are in the ecommerce world?  Where is the competition in the economy? As you can see from the infographic below, there’s not much left since the giant companies either acquire the smaller ones, or they go out of business.

There are usually thousands of websites offering the same or similar services to each other. This is especially true of the travel niche, for example, with Expedia. So what do these companies do differently than others and why can nobody realistically challenge their market dominance?

Quality Experience

Big ecommerce companies don’t only focus on the high-quality product but also on the buying experience for the consumer. The buying experience includes everything from packaging, marketing, the presentation on the online store, to the post-purchase follow up.

Companies such as Expedia go the extra mile just to be sure their consumers get the right product and have a good experience with their websites. This travel giant, in particular, was also one of the first companies to adopt Bitcoin payments, allowing travelers to book trips in any way conceivable.

The Brand’s Backstory

Everyone loves a good story and this applies to the brand stories too. Customers want to know who they’re buying from. They enjoy when they know how the company started and its business values and goals. This strategy gets the customers at a personal level instead of pushing the product on them.

On the Go and Social

In addition to online shopping at desktop and laptop computers, people have taken it out of the house and on their mobile phones. If we continue using Expedia as an example, they combine the social and mobile aspect of booking trips, hotels and car rentals on its online apps.

The combination of all three factors can make any company powerful. When a company covers all its bases, it makes it hard for someone to enter the game.

How Does an Ecommerce Company Dominate Others?

Contractor Quick Poll: Are you really an independent contractor?

For nearly 10 years now, the CRA has been paying close attention to independent contractors’ employment statuses and performing audits to determine if they should be deemed Personal Services Businesses (PSBs). Independent contractors across Canada quickly learned the importance of taking steps to protect their independent business status, or else suffer the tax consequences. Recently, the Ontario Government passed Bill 148 that, among many things, will also put a spotlight on independent contractors’ business habits.

This makes today a good time to assess how well you’re doing at ensuring that your independent contracting business is in fact considered a business. This month’s contractor quick poll helps with just that as it includes some basic actions you can take to separate yourself from your clients’ employees. As usual, we strongly recommend you seek legal advice to ensure you’re taking all the proper steps.

Inspirational Quotes from 100 Brilliant Minds

We’ve all heard the expression “It takes all kinds of people to run the world” or some variant of it. There is so much truth to it, but unfortunately media frequently focuses on the less intelligent, somewhat shameful minds to showcase to the world. Constantly seeing news reports of people saying dumb things can be deflating to a person, so we were excited when we came across this page on Funding Circle’s website showcasing quotes from 100 of the world’s most brilliant minds. In addition to the website, the infographic below shows all of the top quotes from each of those people.

Inspirational Quotes from 100 Brilliant Minds