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IT Industry News for December 2017


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

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on January 5th, 2018

This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the Tech industry for December 2017. 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 previous year’s Novembers

Five years ago, in December 2012 there was a fair amount of M&A activity with Oracle making two acquisitions, marketing automation company Eloqua ($871 million) and Dataraker which provides analytics for utilities companies.  The big deal of the month saw Sprint pay $2.2 Billion to take full control of cellular competitor Clearwire.   Montreal based Cogeco paid $635 million for Peer 1 Networks and NCR paid $635 million for retail software and services company Retalix.  In the BYOD space Citrix bought mobile device management company Zenprise for $355 million.  Finally, Redknee added 1200 employees and 130 new clients through the purchase of Nokia Siemens’ Business Support Network. December 2013 was a slow month, however Oracle pulled off a $1.5 billion buy of marketing software company Responsys; Akamai paid $370 million for cloud-based security solutions provider Prolexic; JDS Uniphase paid $200 million for enterprise performance management company Network Instruments; IBM bought a “big data” file compression company Aspera and Hitachi expended its solutions capability with the purchase of Calgary based Ideaca.  In other company news Target, although not an IT company, had a major security breach involving details of 40 million debit and credit cards.  Three years ago December 2014 was not such a slow news month, with the political and technical ramifications of “the Sony hack” causing uproar, some very positive economic indicators out of the US and some big names making acquisitions, albeit not huge deals.  Microsoft made two acquisitions, the $200 million purchase of mobile email app startup Acompli and mobile development company HockeyApp (which has nothing to do with hockey).  SAP bought travel and expense management company Concur; Intel bought a Montreal based identity management company PasswordBox; Oracle bought digital marketing company Datalogix; Teradata bought data archiving company Rainstor; and MongoDB bought high-scale storage engine company WiredTiger. December 2015 was not a busy M&A month but there was some interesting activity.  The big deal saw Canadian telco Shaw make a big play into the cellular space with its proposed acquisition of Wind for $1.6 billion.  Meanwhile Rogers was also out shopping and growing its Maritimes presence through the acquisition of Internetworking Atlantic Inc.  Other deals in December were not large but did feature some of the big players.  Oracle bought Stackhouse a cloud company with a specialization in “containers”; IBM boosted its video in the cloud capabilities with the purchase of Clearleap; and Microsoft picked up a mobile communications company, Talko.  Other deals saw Ingram Micro buy the Odin Service Automation business from Parallels and in the storage world Carbonite bought Evault from Seagate.  Last year in December 2016 Adecco sold its majority stake in Beeline VMS to GTRC, a private equity firm, for $100 million in cash plus a $30 million note; CRN solution provider SS&C purchased asset service firm Conifer for $88.5 million; solution provider QRX Technology Group acquired IT equipment provider Kerr Norton; networking solution provider, Juniper Networks acquired cloud operations management provider AppFormix; Uber bought start-up Geometric Intelligence Inc.; and Shopify acquired Tiny Hearts, a Toronto-based mobile product development studio.  Yahoo hit the news revealing that one billion accounts were hacked in 2013 making it the largest data breach recorded in history.

Which brings us back to the present …

 December 2017 saw Atos enhance the footprint of their IT Services firm by paying $5 billion for Gemalto.  Apple were busy, paying $400 million for music recognition app Shazam plus they invested $390 million into optical communications components company Finisar.  Finally, in a relatively quiet M&A month Ingram Micro increased its data protection capability through the purchase of Cloud Harmonics.

The Canadian economy had some positive indicators, adding jobs and reducing the unemployment rate to 5.9%.  The US also continued its growth rate, albeit at a slightly reduced pace although the announced tax changes for business are going to provide a significant stimulus.  Generally reports from around the globe were fairly positive, with job growth and reduced unemployment in most countries.

There was a cautionary report about ransomware in Canada that might suggest up to 44% of SMBs were hit with ransomware in a 12 month period.

That’s what I saw affecting the tech industry for December 2017.

Until next month Walk Fast and Smile!

IT Industry News for November 2017


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

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on December 5th, 2017

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the Tech industry for November 2017. 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 previous year’s Novembers

Five years ago in November 2012 Cisco made two significant “buys”, cloud infrastructure company Meraki ($1.2B) and cloud datacentre and software company Cloupia ($125M); Dell bought software tools company Gale Technologies; NCR bought retail software company Retalix ($650M); Cray bought software company Appro ($25M); Sprint Nextel bought a chunk of US Cellular ($480M); and Toronto based NexJ (headed by another ex-Andersen Consulting alumni) bought Broadstreet for $8.2 million.   In November 2013 Opentext paid $1.1 Billion for cloud based integration services company GXS Group and another Canadian deal saw Mitel buy Aastra for close to $400 million.  Other deals included ebay’s $800 million purchase of global payments company Braintree; Apple’s $370 million purchase of 3D sensor company PrimeSense; and Akamai’s purchase of Velocius Networks. Three years ago November 2014 was an exceptionally quiet month on the M&A front with the largest deal being the merger of two semiconductor companies, Cypress Semiconductor and Spansion to form a $4 billion company; private equity company Carlyle Group paid $700 million for investment bank technology company Dealogic and Yahoo shelled out $640 million for video advertising company BrightRoll.  November 2015 saw expedia pay $3.9 billion for HomeAway as a vehicle to better compete with Airbnb.  Zayo Holding Group became the first foreign company to own a Canadian telco after paying $465 million for Allstream.  Other, smaller deals saw Apple buy Faceshift, a motion capture company whose technology was used in a Star Wars movie; and Lightspeed POS bought SEOshop, increasing its size as a competitor to Shopify.  Other deals saw Ingram Micro grow its Brazilian presence with the purchase of ACAO; PCM bought Edmonton based services firm Acrodex; Data centre company CentriLogic bought infrastructure company Advanced Knowledge Networks; solution provider Scalar Systems bought another Toronto company, professional services firm Eosensa; and Washington based New Signature bought Toronto based Microsoft Partner, Imason.  Last year November 2016 saw Broadcom acquire Brocade Communication Systems for $5.9 billion; Adobe purchased multi-channel programmatic video platform TubeMogul for $540 million; IT services and outsourcing provider Wipro Limited bought IT cloud consulting firm Appirio for $500 million; Oracle Corp. announced its plans to acquire DNS solution provider, Dyn Inc.; SoftwareOne acquired and integrated House of Lync; and Avnet completed an acquisition of Hackster.

Which brings us back to the present …

November 2017 saw some interesting information from countries round the world.  China’s growth slowed a little, India is struggling in the IT jobs space and there are some negative some effects from the upcoming Brexit that are affecting the UK and EU.  The US is looking strong again following a hurricane affected dip and Canada added 35,000 jobs in October.

The Big M&A activity for the month sees investment firm Thoma Bravo pay $1.6 billion for Barracuda networks.  McAfee also made an acquisition of Skyhigh Networks now that they are no longer a part of the Intel group of companies.  Smaller deals saw Talend buy Restlet and Qualys buy Netwatcher.

Other companies in the news include Lenovo, a struggling hardware company in a declining PC market and laying off 2% of their workforce.  The other company of interest was Uber who revealed a massive security breach which they had neglected to mention when it happened a year ago!

That’s what I saw affecting the tech industry for November 2017.  Until next month Walk Fast and Smile!

IT Industry News for October 2017


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

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on November 14th, 2017

A Little History of previous year’s Octobers

Tech NewsFive years ago in October 2012, news was dominated by Hurricane Sandy and the US presidential election.  The big deal of the month was a $1.5 billion merger of two US cell carriers, T-Mobile and MetroPCS. There were also a number of smaller deals, with EMC beefing up in the security area (Silver Tail), Telus expanding its medical solutions portfolio (Kinlogix Medical) and Avnet improving its IBM capabilities (BrightStar and BSP). In the social networking world, Yelp bought its European competitor Qype in a $50 million deal. In October 2013, Oracle announced two acquisitions, both cloud based companies: Big Machines and Compendium. Other “names” out shopping included Avaya buying the software division of ITNavigator for its call centre and social media monitoring software; Rackspace bought ZeroVM, a tech company with a software solution for the cloud; Intuit bought consulting company Level Up Analytics, primarily to acquire its talent; VMWare bought “desktop as a service” company Desktone; Netsuite bought human capital software company TribeHR; and Telus enhanced its mobile offering with the purchase of Public Mobile. Three years ago, in October 2014 we saw a new trend with two public companies both choosing to split into smaller entities. HP announced it was creating a business service focused Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and personal computing & printer company HP Inc. Symantec also chose to split into two independent public companies, one focused on business and consumer security products, the other on its information management portfolio. Other interesting news saw IBM pay $1.5 billion to GlobalFoundries so it would take away its money-losing semiconductor manufacturing business. NEST bought competitor Revolv; EMC bought three cloud companies — The Cloudscaling Group, Maginatics and Spanning Cloud Apps — and in Korea, Kakao and Daum merged to form a $2.9 billion internet entity. October 2015 brought some big deals with the biggest seeing Dell offer $26 billion to buy storage company EMC. Interestingly an EMC subsidiary, VMWare was also out shopping, picking up a small email startup, Boxer. In another deal involving “big bucks”, Western Digital paid $19 billion for storage competitor Sandisk. IBM were also writing a big cheque, paying $2 billion in a big data/internet of things play for The Weather Network (minus the TV operations), and IBM also picked up a storage company, Cleversafe. Cisco paid $522.5 million for cybersecurity firm Lancope; LogMeIn paid $110 million for LastPass; Trend Micro paid $350 million for next generation intrusion prevention systems company HP Tippingpoint; Red Hat picked up deployment task execution and automation company Ansible; Vasco Data Security paid $85 million for solution provider Silanis; and Apple bought a speech processing startup, VocalIQ. As industries converged, it was interesting to see Securitas pay $350 million for Diebold’s US Electronic Security business. October 2016 saw Qualcomm pay $47 billion for NXP Semiconductor. The only other sizable deal saw Wipro pay $500 million for IT cloud consulting company Appirio. Google picked up Toronto-based video marketing startup FameBit and Pivot Technology Solutions picked up Ottawa-based Teramach.

Which brings us back to the present

October 2017 continues a recent trend of reduced big ticket M&A activity, although there was certainly some action. Not yet a done deal, but Broadcom is chasing Qualcomm pretty hard and if it goes through it will be the biggest tech deal yet.  The latest rejected offer was north of $100 billion (some reports said $130 billion), but watch that space. In the meantime, Cisco is shelling out $1.9 billion for Broadsoft which improves Cisco’s software capabilities. The final significant deal saw Telus beef up its service provider capability with a $250 million purchase of Xavient.

The other company in the news was Amazon (a) because of its much publicized search for a site for its second headquarters which has 239 cities around the world excited at their prospects; (b) because they also announced a second presence in Vancouver, bringing another 1,000 jobs and (c) for its growing influence in the AI world, announcing a research center in Germany.

The economy continues to have many positive signs, although Hurricane’s Harvey, Irma and to a lesser extent Maria caused some temporary negative impact to employment numbers in the US. The general consensus seems to be that things will pick up again now, with some sectors even benefiting from the clean-up work. Canada’s numbers were again good with Canada adding more than 300,000 jobs in the last year.

Quarterly Job Market Update Across Canada – Q3 2017


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

General Observations:

The unemployment rate at the end September was 6.2%, an improvement from the 6.5% unemployment rate at the end of June.  During the previous 12 months, Canada added 320,000 jobs (almost 289,000 full time).

For the purposes of this report I focus on the TSX and during the third quarter it returned to the Q1 level just above 15,600, a gain of about 500 points.

The oil patch continues to struggle, with the price of a barrel hovering in and around the $50 a barrel range.  The continued lack of support from the various levels of government has led to the cancellation of the Energy East pipeline.  This will mean (a) lost jobs, but also (b) reinforce a message to the investment community that Alberta oil is not a good investment.

The Canadian dollar has been relatively strong lately and in the third quarter ranged between 78c US and 82c US.

There is little change in the banking sector, which is one of the bigger employers in Canada.  The talent demands for the banks address areas such as regulatory changes, new product development, new service offerings and addressing the aging workforce.  On the other side, new technology and offerings also displaces some of the roles traditionally found at the banks.  The banks remain a good place to find employment, but increasingly the skills needed are specialised.

The telecommunications sector is another large employer in Canada.  Like the banks, this sector is operating in an environment affected by new technological change, demographic pressures and regulatory change in addition to extreme competition.  While they demand the best talent in order to compete, they are also careful about keeping employment costs under control, particularly as they are also acquisitive, which can mean a big focus on integration of acquired companies.  Some of the drivers of demand here include the highly competitive nature of the business, investment in infrastructure, technological innovation and a need to plan for a retiring “Boomer” workforce.

The US economy continues to add jobs, and over the third quarter averaged about 90,000 new jobs per month.  The demand for skills in the US is luring talent from Canada which is good for the individuals but not so good for Canada in the long term.

The demand for the “trades” continues unabated, as the construction industry seems to be forever busy.  Cranes dot the skies of Canada’s largest cities, and home renovation projects are hard to staff!

The three levels of government in Canada are big employers.  As an example almost all of the jobs added in Canada in September (about 100,0000) can be attributed to public sector jobs.  Clearly the increased government spending is not a boon for the economy, but good for those looking for public sector jobs.

The Canadian Staffing Index is an indicator of the strength of the largest provider of talent in any economy (the staffing industry) and an excellent barometer of the health of Canada’s economy. The reading at the end of the second quarter was 114, which was up from 110 last quarter, and also 110 in Q3 last year.

Here at Eagle, we experienced an expected drop in demand over the Summer months, of about 10% from the second quarter however demand was up 10% over the same quarter in 2016.  There was a corresponding drop in people looking for work over the Summer months.

More Specifically:

The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is Eagle’s busiest region, representing about 60% of our business.  It is also the 4th largest city in North America, containing more than 50% of Canadian head offices and with a population of approximately six (6) million.  This market continues to be one of the busiest markets in Canada, and we see strong demand from our clients for skilled talent.  There is some concern that new legislation from the Ontario Government (Bill 148) will have a negative effect on the temporary help market in particular.

Western Canada continues to struggle, receiving little help from our Federal government and not helping themselves much at the provincial level.  The cancelling of the Energy East pipeline was a tough blow for the region and optimism in the oil patch is low.  While the Conference Board had expected Alberta to be the fastest growing province in Canada for 2017 I doubt we will see that happen.  The BC economy continues to do well despite the concerns about legislation to curb foreign investment in real estate.

Eagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”.  Ottawa is very much a government town again, although there are some smaller tech companies rising from the ashes of Nortel, JDS and the previously large tech sector. The government continues to employ a lot of people (22,000 more in The NCR since the Liberal government took office) but despite significant Federal government hiring the unemployment rate in Ottawa has been a concern.  Quebec appears to be enjoying a renaissance as its unemployment rate is now better than Ontario’s, in addition to having healthier finances.  They have been able to attract industries (such as large data centres) to help the economy and add jobs.  It doesn’t hurt that their hydro rates are very competitive as opposed to Ontario’s situation.  The Maritime Provinces don’t represent a great opportunity for the job seeker, however PEI and Nova Scotia are both showing signs of an improving economy.

The Hot Client Demand.

At Eagle our focus in on professional staffing and the people in demand from our clients have been fairly consistent for some time.  Program Managers, Project Managers and Business Analysts always seem to be in demand. It might just be our focus, but Change Management and Organizational Excellence resources are in relatively high demand too. Digital, big data, data scientists, analytics, CRM, web (portal and self-serve) and mobile expertise (especially developers) are specializations that we are seeing more and more. On the Finance and Accounting side, we see a consistent need for Financial Analysts, Accountants with designations and public accounting experience plus Controllers as a fairly consistent talent request. Expertise in the Capital markets, both technical and functional, tends to be a constant ask in the GTA.  Technology experts with functional expertise in Health Care is another skill set that also sees plenty of demand.  This demand fluctuates based on geography and industry sectors, so we advise candidates to watch our website and apply for the roles for which they are best suited.

Outside of Eagle’s realm some of the in-demand skills include the classic tradespeople, drivers, and new tech skills like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, video gaming skills etc.

Summary:

There are numerous good indicators for Canada’s economy and hence job seekers, but there are also some challenges on the horizon:

  • NAFTA re-negotiations may have a negative impact on our economy;
  • We don’t yet understand all the implications of the Energy East project being cancelled;
  • January in Ontario will see the introduction of Bill 148, a severe increase in minimum wage plus new labor laws that will hurt business and cost jobs;
  • January we will see the introduction of new carbon taxes in Ontario;
  • Our Federal Government is introducing new tax changes affecting small business, possibly to help pay for their out of control spending;
  • At the same time that Canada is raising taxes, the US is encouraging small business through tax breaks, which may well cost Canada as some companies will be forced to go where they can make money.

If all of this goes ahead, then we will see a big impact on the job market.

Canada added 320,000 jobs in the last year which is good news for today’s job seekers.  The BIG elephant in the room is whether the factors listed above will conspire to undermine our economy and create a government driven recession.

For job seekers there remain the bright spots, caused by demographic shifts (retiring Baby Boomers), jobs moving to Canada from more expensive places like Silicon Valley and companies developing new technologies.  The large employers, such as banking sector, insurance sector, retail sector, telecommunications sector and the construction industry will always require large workforces representing job opportunity. The growth of the “gig economy” creates new opportunities for people to define their own destiny and become mini-entrepreneurs, or build new enterprises.

The effect of US policy changes by the Trump administration remain to be seen.  Having said that, some possible impacts include immigration (positive for Canada); trade agreements & protectionist policies such as the NAFTA negotiations (possibly negative for Canada); and defense (possibly negative for Canada) all having some impact.

Job seekers should research and understand the growing sectors and where the in-demand jobs are.  They also need to be willing to go where the work is!  If I was looking for work I would be moving to the larger centres, investing in in-demand skills and increasing my marketability with the right “attitude”.

That was my look at the Canadian job market for the third quarter of 2017 and some of its influences.

Quarterly Job Market Update Across Canada for Q2 2017


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

General Observations About the Canadian Job Market

Canadian Job Market Quarterly Update Across Canada

The unemployment rate at the end of the first quarter was 6.5%, an improvement over the 6.7% unemployment rate at the end of the last quarter.  During the previous 12 months, Canada added 351,000 jobs (almost 250,000 full time).

For the purposes of this report I focus on the TSX and during the second quarter it slipped about 400 points from 15,600 to around 15,200.

Oil CanThe oil patch continues to struggle, and while the price of a barrel has been in and around the $50 a barrel range, it actually finished the second quarter down in the $45 range.  The foreign investment money that exited the Canadian oil patch is unlikely to return unless there is a significant shift in political support for this sector.  Even the approval of some pipelines has not generated the positive job impact it might have done a couple of years ago.

Canadian DollarThe Canadian dollar had seemed to be settled around the 75c US level, but during Q2 edged up to 77c. (It should be noted that post Q2 an interest rate increase has driven the Canadian dollar even higher.  It remains to be seen whether the increased cost of borrowing will have a negative impact on the Canadian economy.)

There is little change in the banking sector, which is one of the bigger employers in Canada.  The talent demands for the banks address areas such as regulatory changes, new product development, new service offerings and addressing the aging workforce.  On the other side, new technology and offerings also displaces some of the roles traditionally found at the banks.  The banks remain a good place to find employment, but increasingly the skills needed are specialised.

Telecommunications

The telecommunications sector is another large employer in Canada.  Like the banks, this sector is operating in an environment affected by new technological change, demographic pressures and regulatory change in addition to extreme competition.  While they demand the best talent in order to compete, they are also careful about keeping employment costs under control, particularly as they are also acquisitive, which can mean a big focus on integration of acquired companies.  Some of the drivers of demand here include the highly competitive nature of the business, investment in infrastructure, technological innovation and a need to plan for a retiring “Boomer” workforce.

The US economy continues to add jobs in significant numbers, averaging more than 200,000 jobs a month over the last quarter.  The demand for skills in the US is luring talent from Canada which is good for the individuals but not so good for Canada in the long term.

The demand for the “trades” continues unabated, as the construction industry seems to be forever busy.  Cranes dot the skies of Canada’s largest cities, and home renovation projects are hard to staff!

The three levels of government in Canada are big employers.  Municipal, provincial and Federal governments employ a lot of people.  Under the current Liberal administration the Federal workforce has grown significantly, with about 150,000 employees.   All levels of government are dealing with the issue of retiring “boomers”, among the executive ranks in particular.   The pensions are so lucrative that large numbers of civil servants are eligible for, and invariably take, retirement at a very early age.  This will create opportunity for new jobs, but will also result in a significant brain drain from our government.

The Canadian Staffing Index is an indicator of the strength of the largest provider of talent in any economy (the staffing industry) and an excellent barometer of the health of Canada’s economy. The reading at the end of the second quarter was 110, which was unchanged from the first quarter.  The reading is not adjusted and so is affected by number of available working hours etc.  Having said that, the indication is a positive one.

Eagle LogoHere at Eagle, we experienced consistent demand from our clients in the the first six months of 2017.  This is a positive indicator given that demand represents a 25% increase in demand over the fourth quarter of 2016. Eagle did see a big increase in people looking for work in the first quarter (20%) and the second quarter saw another increase of 16%.  There could be many factors at play, but one that we are seeing is both an increased demand for contract talent and an increased interest in the gig economy by professionals.

Regional Job Markets Across Canada

TorontoThe Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is Eagle’s busiest region, representing about 60% of our business.  It is also the 4th largest city in North America, containing more than 50% of Canadian head offices and with a population of approximately six (6) million.  This market continues to be one of the busiest markets in Canada, and we see strong demand from our clients for skilled talent.  There is some concern that new legislation from the Ontario Government (Bill 148) will have a negative effect on the temporary help market in particular.

CalgaryWestern Canada continues to be most impacted by the woes in the oil patch, but there are some positive indicators.  The oil patch has settled into its “new normal” and continues to employ a lot of people, albeit nowhere near the highs of the boom times.  The various levels of government are working hard to replace some of those jobs by attracting new industries, such as technology companies, offering educated and affordable workforces, especially compared to Silicon Valley and more affordable and yet attractive lifestyles. The Conference Board expects Alberta to be the fastest growing province in Canada for 2017.  The BC housing market has been affected by recently introduced legislation to curb foreign investment and a minority government will mean less affective decision making and an uncertain economy.

OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”.  Ottawa is very much a government town again, although there are some smaller tech companies rising from the ashes of Nortel, JDS and the previously large tech sector. The government continues to employ a lot of people (22,000 more in The NCR since the Liberal government took office) but the unemployment rate in Ottawa rose steadily in the second quarter. Quebec leads the country in job gains, and have improved their unemployment rate to 6% and added 122,000 jobs in the last 12 months.  The Maritime Provinces continue to struggle to create employment and we don’t expect much change there.

Top Skills Demanded from Eagle’s Clients

At Eagle our focus in on professional staffing and the people in demand from our clients have been fairly consistent for some time.  Program Managers, Project Managers and Business Analysts always seem to be in demand. It might just be our focus, but Change Management and Organizational Excellence resources are in relatively high demand too. Digital, big data, data scientists, analytics, CRM, web (portal and self-serve) and mobile expertise (especially developers) are specializations that we are seeing more and more. On the Finance and Accounting side, we see a consistent need for Financial Analysts, Accountants with designations and public accounting experience plus Controllers as a fairly consistent talent request. Expertise in the Capital markets, both technical and functional, tends to be a constant ask in the GTA.  Technology experts with functional expertise in Health Care is another skill set that also sees plenty of demand.  This demand fluctuates based on geography and industry sectors, so we advise candidates to watch our website and apply for the roles for which they are best suited.

Outside of Eagle’s realm some of the in-demand skills include the classic tradespeople, drivers, and new tech skills like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, video gaming skills etc.

Summary

Canada added 351,000 jobs in the last year which is good news for today’s job seekers.  Forecasters are optimistic for the next twelve months, in fact the Bank of Canada just raised interest rates sparking a recovery for the Canadian dollar.  If we can keep new legislation (CASL at the Federal level, and Bill 148 in Ontario would be just two examples) from hurting job growth then we should enjoy a period of growth.

For job seekers there are bright spots, caused by demographic shifts (retiring Baby Boomers), jobs moving to Canada from more expensive places like Silicon Valley and companies developing new technologies.  The large employers, such as banking sector, insurance sector, retail sector, telecommunications sector and the construction industry will always require large workforces representing job opportunity. The growth of the “gig economy” creates new opportunities for people to define their own destiny and become mini-entrepreneurs, or build new enterprises.

The effect of US policy changes by the Trump administration remain to be seen.  Having said that, early indicators could see immigration (positive for Canada); trade agreements & protectionist policies (possibly negative for Canada); and defense (possibly negative for Canada) all having some impact.

Job seekers should research and understand the growing sectors and where the in-demand jobs are.  They also need to be willing to go where the work is!  If I was looking for work I would be moving to the larger centres, investing in in-demand skills and increasing my marketability with the right “attitude”.

That was my look at the Canadian job market for the second quarter of 2017 and some of its influences.

Calgary Economic Development – Efforts to Diversify Making a Difference!


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Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President, Western Canada at Eagle

Calgary Economic Development

I thought I’d use this blog entry to give a shout out to the CED (Calgary Economic Development) for the great work they are doing to attract new business to Calgary.  They are a relatively small group of very dedicated and committed people working to make a big impact.  In order to stretch a fixed budget, their marketing plans are lazer-focused and, as it turns out, they are gaining the ears of companies south of the border!

Calgary faces a number of challenges as a result of the changing business dynamics within the global Oil & Gas industry.  These challenges manifest themselves in several ways:

  • Increased unemployment/underemployment in all sectors, but especially in professional STEM positions which are typically higher income (tax paying) positions;
  • Down-town vacancy rates are over 40% by many accounts and this threatens to put additional tax burden on the remaining businesses, making a bad situation worse;
  • Reduced spending by the companies that have been driving our economy produces a trickle-down effect that has impacted small and medium sized businesses as well whether in the Oil Industry or not.

These issues could start a downward spiral if not for the efforts of the CED, other like-minded businesses and the municipal government who are taking this slow-down as an opportunity to attract new businesses across other industries.  Calgary has had some extreme advantages over other North American cities for some time – a young highly-educated workforce; an entrepreneurial spirit second to none; fantastic and reliable infrastructure; and it boasts the most head offices and small businesses per capita in Canada (and being one of Canada’s 5 largest cities is saying something!).  All this, while being a place where people want to work and live (Calgary ranks second of major Canadian cities for healthy lifestyle and life satisfaction according to the Conference Board of Canada).  AND NOW… we have ample (and affordable) downtown office space and available highly motivated and educated workers too.  This is an unprecedented opportunity to bring in new industries.

Rising EconomyThe CED have set targets for themselves based on the goals of increasing levels of employment, filling unused office space and diversification of the local economy.  To accomplish this, they target companies that require knowledge workers and who struggle in their “local” labour market to attract/keep top talent.  Some smaller to medium sized high-tech companies struggle to hire technologists with competition the likes of Google and Apple.  Other US-based companies have hired huge numbers of foreign workers for their expertise in areas such as engineering, software development, and technology hardware; and, with the new Trump administration threatening to “send foreign workers home”, there is an opportunity to potentially move these people lock, stock and barrel to Calgary and continue to have them be productive employees.  Yet other companies are looking for affordable places where people want to work to help start-up companies get a foothold and succeed…  Rocketspace is such a company and is one of the first to commit to opening new offices in Calgary.

After a couple years of economic misery, there is a new “buzz” in Calgary and a new feeling of optimism as the city rebuilds (and rebrands) itself!  New opportunities are coming… as a professional contractor, are you ready for this?  Do you have the right “transferable skills” to take advantage in new industries?  People who have chosen to specialize in Information Technology have embraced the notion of life-long learning and, as such, can and will adapt and pick-up the needed knowledge to enable them to work in any industry.  The following are links to other TDC articles written on the topic of professional development… I hope they share some insights that you will find useful!

IT Industry News for May 2017


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

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on June 5th, 2017
Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at tech events for May 2017. 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 2012, Facebook went public and there was a fair amount of M&A activity. The largest deal saw SAP’s $4.3 billion acquisition of Ariba with CGI’s $2.8 billion acquisition of Logica PLC of particular interest to those of us here in Canada! EMC continued its pattern of acquisitions with the $430 million purchase of XtremIO: perennial acquirer Oracle paid $300 million for social media marketing firm Vitrue; in the storage space Seagate paid $186 million for a controlling interest in LaCie; Microsoft invested $300 million in a Barnes & Noble subsidiary; and LinkedIn paid $118 million for Slideshare. There was plenty more activity, but with the amounts not published. Twitter bought RestEngine; IBM bought customer analytics company Tealeaf Technology; VMware bought Wanova; and Cisco bought Truvisco.

Yahoo logoIn May 2013, Yahoo purchased Tumblr for $1.1 billion. The $6.9 billion deal to take BMC Software private 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.

DXC logoMay 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.

Which brings us back to the present …

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.     

Surprisingly, increasing smartphone sales around the world are not coming from tech giants like Apple and Samsung. Chinese smartphone makers are on the rise and gaining significant market share at home and in other densely populated countries.

That is it for my synopsis of  technologynews 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!

IT Industry News for February 2017


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

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on March 8th, 2017

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the ICT industry for February 2017. 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 previous year’s Februarys …

Five years ago, February 2012 was not a blockbuster month for M&A, but there was some interesting activity.  The biggest deal of the month saw Oracle pay $1.9 billion for talent management company Taleo.  Siemens Canada paid $440 million for networking equipment company Rugged.com.  IBM bought BYOD company Worklight; Dell bought backup and recovery company AppAssure; Apple bought mobile search company Chomp; dell logoand LM Ericsson bought Ottawa based BelAir Networks.   Four years ago in February 2013 Dell went private in a $24.4 billion deal that included a $2 billion investment by Microsoft.  Oracle paid $1.7 billion for networking company Acme Packet Inc.; Rackspace bought big data company ObjectRocket; Telus was busy with two acquisitions, electronic medical records division of the Canadian Medical Association and digital forensics company Digital Wyzdom; HP also sold the Palm operating system to LG for their smart TVs.  February 2014 was busy in M&A. Facebook make a big move with the $16 billion Oracle logo a large software company originally noted for its databaseacquisition of Whatsapp.  Comcast made a $45 billion play for Time Warner Cable and regulatory approval or otherwise is imminent; Oracle paid a reputed $400 million for data management platform company Bluekai; LinkedIn paid $120 million for online job search company Bright; and Klout was bought for about $100 million by Lithium Technologies.  Google made a couple of acquisitions, online fraud company Spider.io and secure logon company Slicklogin.  IBM bought database as a service company Cloudant; and Monster bought a couple of companies, social profile company Talentbin and job aggregation and distribution technology company Gozaic. Finally, Microsoft announced Steve Balmer’s retirement and appointed a new CEO, Satya Nadella.  February 2015 saw some interesting activity.  The $6.3 billion merger of Staples and Office Depot and the $1.6 Billion purchase of Orbitz by Expedia are two examples of sectors experiencing massive consolidation.  There was a big buy in the communications and IT space with Harris paying Microsoft logo$4,75 billion for Excelis to establish a 23,000 person company.  There was a big data center play with UK based Telecity Group paying $2.2 billion for Interxion Holdings.  Microsoft made a couple of acquisitions, paying $200 million for pen-tech maker N-Trig and $100 million for mobile calendar company Sunrise.  Samsung bought a mobile payment company (competing with Apple pay), LoopPay.  Also out buying was Twitter which picked up Niche, a network of social media creators.  There were a number of interesting deals in Asia, including Sapdeal buying luxury fashion estore Exclusively; Foodpanda made six acquisitions of online meal delivery services to establish itself as a powerhouse in that space.  Showing some forethought Australian job board OneShift has bought Adage, which is a job board serving people over 45.  Last year in February 2016 the biggest deal saw HNA Group of China pay $6 billion for Ingram Micro.  Two other billion dollar deals Cisco logoincluded Cisco paying $1.4 billion for IoT company, Jasper Technologies and a consortium of Chinese internet firms making a $1.2 billion bid for Opera. Microsoft was busy with a couple of acquisitions, Xamarin a cross platform mobile application development company, and Swiftkey which produces predictive keyboard technology.  Another busy company was Alibaba Group which was investing in a bunch of companies, including a $100 million investment in Groupon, and smaller investments in microblogging site Weibo; software company Momo; augmented reality startup Magic Leap; Chinese retail chain Suning; and Singapore telco SingPost.  Other companies of note out buying included IBM who bought digital agency Aperto and Blackberry acquired cybersecurity company Encription.

Which brings us back to the present …

The apple logo and apple with a bite out of itFebruary 2017 saw very little M&A action.  Nokia paid $371 million for Finnish telecom software company Comptel, as it reinvents itself, and Apple picked up an AI startup company RealFace.    Another company in the news, but for the wrong reasons was Samsung which is in the middle of a significant bribery scandal.

On the economic front there were a lot of positive indicators out of the US, including adding another 246,000 jobs.  Canada also added 48,000 jobs in January which followed a good December in job creation.  Around the world, the UK is starting to see some labour impacts from the Brexit decision as EU nationals are not applying for jobs they used to do.  Brazil reached a record high in unemployment, in India hiring activity declined and in China there is expected to be a boom in hiring.

Perhaps more interesting this month than the M&A activity, or lack thereof, were some other tidbits of news.

The Irish government have an Action Plan for Jobs that is ahead of plan as of 2016 and is looking to create 200,000 net new jobs by 2020.  Maybe Canada could take a look at an interesting program like this!

An Ipsos survey suggests that Canadians are spending more time on mobile apps than ever, which might explain why everyone you see walking along the street has their face buried in their phone!

Another survey suggests that within the last year 60% of small businesses were the victims of cyberattack!

Finally, another study suggests that global gender diversity is moving, albeit slowly, and at this rate it will take another 20 years to hit parity!

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!

US Immigration Policy May Help Canada’s Tech Sector


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

Canadian Maple LeafRecent events both South of the border and across Europe have brought immigration to the front pages as a hot button issue. Undoubtedly it has been a very polarizing social and often disturbing humanitarian issue. But what can we make of the economic and business ramifications for Canada in these changing times?

There is most definitely a labour problem in the entire Canadian economy and one that by all measure is about to get worse. The demographic headwind that we face is a potentially lethal combination of boomers retiring over the next 15 years and an overall aging population not supported by growing birth rates. Economic growth in Canada is inextricably linked to both labour growth and productivity, both of which can be addressed through strategic immigration.

This challenging future that could see more people leaving the workforce than entering in Canada and the structural problems that would entail can be alleviated to some degree by immigration. Canada is not alone in this; in fact, most major economies in the world are facing these kinds of issues. For example, Japan’s economy has stalled as the combination of a low birth rate and very low immigration intake resulted in one of the poorest GDP growth rates of the world’s largest economies.

Canada historically has and will likely always be a leader in helping the world’s most downtrodden and desperate refugees and for that most Canadians are proud. Additionally, how do we also compete to attract in our immigration policy the marketable skills, education and experience that will help boost an economy? These so called Economic immigrants have made up a larger proportion of the immigrant intake for the last decade or so in Canada and will likely remain a focus of immigration policy.

US Immigration Policy May Help Canada's Tech SectorToday, though, with changes in the US landscape as a result of the election of Donald Trump has perhaps led to a very real opportunity for Canada, especially in the Tech sector. Many Silicon Valley based Tech companies have been vocal in their very real concern that the change in US Immigration policy will be very detrimental to them and what they already contend has been a tough struggle for top talent. Foreign workers have been a crucial piece of the Silicon Valley tech skills gap puzzle and with the changes in policy, and perhaps even the heated atmosphere in the US as a result, many skilled tech workers will look to Canada as an option. There are mechanisms in place already such as Canada’s Global Skills Strategy that allow companies to quickly acquire the skills they need on an initial short term basis.

It has always been very tough for Canada’s high tech companies to compete with the allure and frankly other worldly perks and compensation of Silicon Valley but these days perhaps they now have a leg up.

Staffing & Recruitment Industry South of the Border


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Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President, Western Canada at Eagle

Staffing Industry Analysts LogoLast week I attended the Staffing Industry Analyst‘s conference that was held in San Diego. In addition to taking a break from the cold Canadian winter, it provided the opportunity to get a sense of the current state of the staffing market in the USA.  This is important as the American market tends to lead the Canadian market in trends and innovation. It provides a glimpse into what may be coming for us in Canada.

Before I share some of my observations, let me explain what the Staffing Industry Analysts organization is and does.  The SIA describes themselves as:

Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) is the global advisor on staffing and workforce solutions. Our proprietary research covers all categories of employed and non-employed work including temporary staffing, independent contracting and other types of contingent labor. SIA’s independent and objective analysis provides insights into the services and suppliers operating in the workforce solutions ecosystem, including staffing firms, managed service providers, recruitment process outsourcers, payrolling/compliance firms and talent acquisition technology specialists such as vendor management systems, online staffing platforms, crowdsourcing and online work services.

This organization is really connected. Their research is significant and the huge sample-size ensures accuracy.  Eagle is a member and we follow their publications religiously.  Over many years, their outlook has consistently been proven correct.

With this said, I’ll share a sample of interesting things that I learned… some of which may confirm what you already know/believe while some others may surprise you as it did me:

  • There is a world-wide shift in employment from permanent employees to contract/temporary labour.  This is both being driven by the people themselves as their preference and by employers recognizing the value of employing contingent workers.
  • Contingent workers grew from 12% of the working population in 2009 to 22% in 2016 with 44 million American workers now doing contingency work.
  • The adoption of MSP (Master Services Providers) has plateaued in the USA.  Although this offering is still growing globally, it is no longer the case in the US market.
  • Moreover, I was surprised to find that there was a marked move from outsourced, off-shored service solutions, back to in-house-managed solutions; companies are repatriating their business and technical teams to manage their own projects and operations.
  • The staffing industry in the USA is also getting crowded with nontraditional service providers such as online staffing solutions, cloud-based solutions with AI (artificial intelligence) and Robotic solutions coming on strongly.  This is resulting in a more complex and potentially confusing ecosystem.
  • Niche/specialized contingent labour providers are growing their market share at the expense of the generalists.
  • Globalization of staffing companies appears not to be growing as quickly as it had previously.  Through technology, globalization is in the reach of most companies big or small, but “buy-local” political philosophies and increasingly complex legal structure, laws and regulations are curbing the ease of expanding to new markets.

Although this is a very short list of information from the conference, you can find many more reports and statistics at SIA’s website:  http://www2.staffingindustry.com/row/Research/Research-Topics-Reports.

In summary, the staffing industry in the USA is very active and the outlook is quite positive. Technologies are coming out that will change the way recruitment agencies and the hiring companies source candidates and appears to be playing the role of disrupter for MSP’s going forward.  The overarching trend is for companies to bring their own projects back in-house after having tried off-shore or outsourced solutions.