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

IT Industry News for May 2019

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

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on May 3rd, 2019

This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the Tech industry for April 2019.

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 Aprils …

The apple logo and apple with a bite out of itFive years ago, in April 2014 Microsoft officially entered the handset business with the completion of the $7.5 billion purchase of Nokia’s devices business.  Zebra Technologies paid $3.5 billion for Motorola’s unit that makes mobile devices for business which is a move in the ever-expanding Internet of Things space. Apple paid $479 million purchase of the LCD chip development unit of Renesas Electronics.  IBM snapped up marketing automation software company Silverpop Systems and open source software company Red Hat paid $175 million for storage company Inktank.

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

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

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

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

Which brings us back to the present …

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

Microsoft logoAnother company in the press this month was Microsoft, who reached that magic valuation point of $1 trillion, becoming the third company to hit hat milestone after Apple and Amazon.

The general economic news was positive with the US continuing to soar with very low unemployment, rising wage rates, an annualised GDP growth rate of 3.2% in the first quarter all suggesting the US boom will continue for a while yet.  Canada continus its anemic growth rate, projected at 1.2% this year.  Around the world unemployment is generally down except for pockets like the UK where the Brexit situation continues to be a mill stone around their necks.

Regional Job Market Update for British Columbia (April 2019)

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle

Current economic forecasts for BC are a bit of a mixed bag. Most economists are predicting an economic slowdown over the next three years, according to a report released Thursday by credit union Central 1. The report specifically references the housing market downturn impacting GDP growth in BC.

Vancouver SkylineIt is expected that the resultant drop in demand and prices will trigger a sharp contraction in housing construction and reduced condominium pre-sale activity which will result in “the most pronounced drop in broader residential development since 2009.”

At the same time, another credit rating agency, the Domestic Bond Rating Service (DBRS Ltd.), confirmed the provinc’s long-term debt rating at AA (high) and the short-term debt rating R-1 (high). DBRS Ltd. stated in a news release “The ratings remain well supported by the province’s diverse and growing economy, positive outlook, ample fiscal capacity and low debt burden.”

DBRS’s rating comes after the international credit rating agency Moody’s confirmed in January its AAA rating of B.C., making it the only province in Canada to be rated triple A by all three international credit rating agencies (Moody’s, Standard and Poor and Fitch).

Another bright spot is an expected uptick in capital investment, including LNG projects which should drive associated construction and infrastructure projects. Is a pipeline in the future? With a new government in Alberta, expect that conversation to heat up quickly. And with the aforementioned triple A rating, the cost to borrow remains attractive which should continue investment in BCs infrastructure and public services.

So what does that mean for you as an IT professional?

It should mean that things will not change all that much. The very low unemployment rates in the province and even lower rates for information technology should be considered positive factors for opportunity. BC remains an attractive location for business and a cooling, more reasonable housing sector should, in theory, correct one of the structural impediments to attracting talent. Public sector spending shows no sign of weakening as municipal and provincial governments respond to demand from their constituents for new and better servicing. In fact, the healthcare sector in particular is experiencing massive transformation and this is driving a need for project specialists.

If you have specific experience with Cerner or other large Electronic Health Records packages, you’ve probably noticed that you are in demand and you’re probably shutting down LinkedIn in an effort to get away from recruiters and headhunters who are trying to connect with you.

But it’s not just specialist skills that are in demand. These projects are large and touch so many aspects of an organization that we are seeing requirements for all skillsets including the pillars of any initiative, Project Managers, Business Analysts, Architects, Developers and Testers. And as with any transformative work, we’ve seen a large uptick in the demand for Change Managers and Organizational Change Managers.

The one downside to these opportunities is often the mandatory requirement that candidates have previous clinical or healthcare experience. The question our recruiters are most often asked by clearly frustrated candidates is “How do I get experience in healthcare, if they won’t hire me because I lack healthcare experience?” The first step is to get an understanding of the types of technologies and software used throughout the industry (ex. Cerner), and determine if your current skills or toolset are transferable. If not, you may need further training or experience. But in the meantime, you can certainly use that knowledge to craft your selling message to recruiters and hiring managers.

What’s hot besides healthcare?

Large scale infrastructure projects continue to need resources for anything from basic, but urgent, Windows upgrades to very large deployments of hardware and software. And on the application development side, it depends on what you are programming for. Microsoft still controls a large portion of our corporate client’s landscape and we continue to see a need for .Net programmers. But full stack, mobile and web developers who have worked with Java or JavaScript related tools such as Node.js, Angular or React will also find a pretty healthy demand for their skills.

And the cloud continues to drive demand for infrastructure specialists and integration experts who can get “on premise” and cloud systems talking to each other.

As I’ve mentioned before, if any of this is familiar to you and your area of expertise, you should feel pretty good about your employment or engagement opportunities in BC. The public sector and crown corporations are robust. Work, especially in the health sector, has exploded and there is no reason to believe it will slow down. The private sector has a good mix of large, traditional corporations delivering products and services along with a steady influx of startup and app centric software shops. All in all, BC currently offers lots of opportunity but as always in Information Technology, having a bit of a specialization will help open doors.

IT Industry News for March 2019

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

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on April 1, 2019

Tech News Header This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the Tech industry for March 2019

What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of March in previous years … Facebook logoFive years ago in March 2014 Facebook made a somewhat surprising $2 billion acquisition of virtual reality company Oculus VR. Intel also expanded its horizons with the $150 million acquisition of smart watch maker, Basis Science. SAP added to its purchasing software suite with the acquisition of Fieldglass and TELUS made a couple of buys, Enode, a management consulting company out of Quebec and Med Access, an addition in British Columbia, to their healthcare division. HP logo

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

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

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

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

Which brings us back to the present …

The apple logo and apple with a bite out of itIn March 2019, the big deal of the month saw Nvidia shell out $6.9 billion for data centre solutions vendor, Mellanox.  F5 Networks paid $670 million for up and coming competitor NGINX; and Juniper Networks paid $40 million for AI startup Mist Systems.  Some other deals this month were Apple’s acquisition of machine learning startup LaserLike; Veritas’ acquisition of analytics company Aptare; Mastercard bought security company Ethoca; and Spotify added to its podcast capability with the purchase of Parcast.

Other companies in the news included Lyft, which was the first of several high-profile tech companies with planned IPOs in 2019; SAP who announced a major round of layoffs and SAS who joined the growing number of companies investing big in AI, announcing a $1billion investment. 

The University of Toronto received a $100 million donation (largest ever) from power couple, Heather Reisman (Indigo) and Gerry Schwartz (Onyx), to build an innovation centre.

In economic news around the world, Brexit continues to dominate news and the economy in the UK and not in a good way.  Around the world, economic news was generally relatively positive, although things are slowing down and forecast GDP growth in the US and Canada has been downgraded for 2019.

That is my look at what was happening in the technology space over the last month, compared to the same month in previous years. I’ll be back in just about a month, until then … walk fast and smile!

How are Canadians Faring with Debt? Stats Canada Has the Answer

As a business owner, you’re regularly managing and balancing debt-to-income. As a job seeker, you may be considering a new city to find work but questioning the lifestyle you can live there. And as a human being, it’s natural to be curious where you stand compared to others. This eye-opening infographic recently released by Stats Canada answers those questions for you, and provides some incredible insight to our country’s debt situation.

In the last 10 years, debt-to-income ratios across the country have continued to rise in comparison to our neighbours’ to the south where they are declining. Furthermore, we can see that debt-to-income rations are relatively high for those at the bottom of the income distribution in Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) where housing prices have increased.

If you’re interested in learning more, all of the details are summarized below and you can see specific numbers and information here.

How are Canadians Faring with Debt? Stats Canada Has the Answer

Job Market Update Across Canada

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

Here’s a look at Canada’s job outlook, specifically for IT, as we finish up the first quarter of 2019.

Canadian Job MarketThere are a number of indicators that I have used over the years to give an idea of how things are going, one such indicator is the markets.  For this purpose I focus on the TSX.  The markets have been fairly volatile for some time now, but The TSX was sitting at 16,000 at time of writing.  This is not that different from this time a year ago, although we have seen some wide swings during that time.  The relative stability of the economy here is always a good factor when looking for employment.

Obviously the unemployment rate is a decent indicator and at 5.8%, the job situation is fairly positive.  This indicator would also suggest unemployment in the skilled, in demand professions is probably 50% of that number … which at less than 3% is effectively full employment.  Canada has created 370,000 jobs (270,000 full time) in the last twelve months, which is not at the pace of the US, but is still a healthy growth, particularly since 270,000 of those were full time jobs.  In a tale of two provinces Ontario has seen the strongest growth in employment in the last few months, whereas Alberta has struggled and has an unemployment rate of 7.3% primarily due to a hurting oil patch.

Some stats worth noting when looking at the job situation in Canada; the biggest 4 provinces represent close to 90% of employment in Canada, with Ontario the largest (close to 40%); Quebec (approx. 23%); BC (13.5%) and Alberta (12.5%).  BC has the lowest unemployment rate in Canada (4.5%), with Newfoundland & Labrador the highest (11.8%); Quebec and Manitoba enjoy good unemployment rates (5.3%); Ontario has a respectable 5.7% rate.  So, when considering where to look for jobs a province that employs a lot of people and has a relatively low unemployment rate is a good place to look … BC, Quebec and Ontario all fit that bill.

One of the big factors affecting the Alberta market is the price of oil.   The price of a barrel in Canada is probably $10 a barrel less than on the world market, given our only customer is the United States.  Until there is a clear change that will likely remain a factor in Alberta’s economy.  The current price in Canada of less than $60 a barrel, coupled with the barriers presented by the Federal Government and other governments means that investment in the Canadian oil industry is significantly reduced which would suggest it will be some time before we see a boom in employment in that sector.  Having said that there are still opportunities in Alberta, just not the booming demand we saw in the past.

Google LogoThe continued growth in the US market has led to skills shortages, and significant cost increases for companies with large workforces.  This has created an opportunity in Canada, where large US companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google etc. are adding to their Canadian presence to tap into the talent up here.  We have seen big announcements in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto in recent months and I expect this trend to continue.

If there is one market to highlight it is the Toronto area, which is Canada’s largest market, the fourth largest city in North America and home to more head offices than any other city in Canada.  The financial sector is largely headquartered here and is a huge employer, as is the telecommunications industry.  The GTA represents 60% of Eagle’s business and probably 60% of tech jobs in Canada.

Tech job activity is relatively strong in most markets across Canada.  Even Calgary, which has not returned to pre-oil crisis levels of activity is seeing some demand.  This makes sense if you recognize that even at a 7.3% unemployment rate that probably represents a less than 4% unemployment among professionals and in-demand skills.

Eagle’s focus is technology professionals and the most in demand areas/skills recently have included: Cloud, Healthcare, Government, Telecom, Banking, CRM, BI and AI; Project Managers, Business Analysts, Change Management, Quality Assurance, Architects, Sys Admins, Full Stack developers, Database Admins & Dev Ops engineers.

In summary, people with tech skills should have little difficulty in finding employment, either contract or perm for the foreseeable future.  A willingness to relocate to the bigger centers will only increase their marketability.

There is continued concern about an economic slowdown, which will of course affect hiring.  In the short to medium term I don’t expect a big change in the job market.  Perhaps as the election approaches in the fall we will see some impact.

Our advice to clients is to ensure there are clear, clean hiring practices that move quickly through the hiring process.  It is a candidate market again and that means the best talent is snapped up quickly, often with multiple offers.

IT Industry News for February 2019

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

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on March 9, 2019

Tech News Header This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the Tech industry for February 2019

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 years’ Februarys … Five years ago, in February 2014, Facebook made a big move with the $16 billion acquisition of WhatsApp.  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 Facebook logoby 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 the $6.3 billion merger of Staples and Office Depot and the $1.6 Billion Microsoft logopurchase of Orbitz by Expedia.  There was a big buy in the communications and IT space with Harris paying $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.  Australian job board OneShift bought Adage, which is a job board serving people over 45.

In February 2016, the biggest deal saw HNA Group of China pay $6 billion for Ingram Micro.  Two other billion dollar deals included 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.

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

Last year, February 2018 was a very active month in M&A.  There was more consolidation in the telco space with US based GTT paying $2.3 billion for London headquartered Interroute, thus expanding its global footprint.  Security companies were a theme in this month’s acquisitions and you will spot several in the following list.  Cybersecurity firm Phishme was bought with $400 million of private equity money; Splunk paid $350 million for Phantom Cyber Corp; and Proofpoint paid $225 million for Wombat Security Technologies.  Other deals saw LogMeIn pay $342 million for Jive Communications; Carbonite pay $146 million for Mozy; and Red Hat paid $250 million for Core OS.  Some of the household names that were also out making deals included Oracle, Google, Opentext, Avaya and Citrix.

Which brings us back to the present …

February 2019 was a relatively busy month in M&A but there were no blockbuster, billion dollar deals.  The biggest deal I saw was Carbonite’s $618 million acquisition of internet security company Webroot.  Palo Alto Networks seems to be on a buying spree, closing two deals this month, $560 million for analytics company Demisto and $170 million for cloud security startup, RedLock.  The money guys were out shopping too, with Thoma Bravo paying $270 million+ for MSP platform company Connectwise and Trive Capital paid $330 million for Windstream’s Earthlink telephone service provider assets.  Spotify announced its podcast intentions with a couple of acquisitions, Gimlet Media and Anchor, and Witricity strengthened its hand in the wireless charging space with the acquisition of Qualcomm’s Halo business unit. Microsoft logoThere were some big names out shopping too, including Microsoft who picked up Datasense in the education space; Amazon picked up eero in the home automation world; DXC picked up EG A/S a services company in Europe; and Semantec bought cybersecurity startup Luminate Security. Amazon logo

Other companies in the news include Canadian engineering company SNC-Lavalin embroiled in a scandal that is rocking the government; Cognizant paid a $25 million fine for corruption; Monster announced some layoffs; and after a lengthy process Amazon rescinded its choice of New York as a location for a huge investment & additional “headquarters”.

Around the world the jobs situation is generally positive, if not “as positive” as in previous months.  The Brexit situation is having  negative effect in the UK, India posted poor employment numbers that could impact an upcoming election and the US suffered through a government shutdown that impacted their numbers.

Facebook logoA couple of interesting tidbits, that probably come under the title “doesn’t time fly” … it has been 5 years since Facebook bought Whatsapp AND Steve Balmer retired as CEO of Microsoft making way for current CEO Satya Nadella. 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!

IT Industry News for January 2019

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

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on January 17, 2019     Tech News Header This is my 30,000 foot look at events in the Tech industry for January 2019

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.

Five years ago, in January 2014 Google was an especially busy player, selling its Motorola Mobility handset unit to Lenovo for $2.9 billion but paying $3.2 billion for Nest Labs and the company also bought Bitspin.  The other big deal saw VMware pay $1.17 billion for mobile device management company AirWatch.  Other big names on the acquisition trail included Oracle who bought cloud based service delivery company Corente; Microsoft paid a reputed $100 million for cloud based service company (seems to be a theme) Parature; Ricoh purchased IT service company Mindshift from BestBuy; and Hootsuite bought analytics company uberVu.

In January 2015 the biggest deal saw Yahoo looking like it might be remaking itself, Yahoo logospinning off its $40 Billion stake in Alibaba to become smaller, leaner and either buy or be bought!  Other M&A activity involving a “B” was Telco equipment company Commscope offering $3 billion for TE Connectivities network business.  There were also a number of very well-known companies out buying, and in no particular order … Amazon paid something like $300 million (approximate) for chip designer Annapurna Labs; Expedia bought its online travel competitor Travelocity for $200 million; Samsung paid $100 million for Brazil’s largest print company Simpress; Google paid about $100 million for mobile payments company Softcard; Facebook bought Wit.ai a company that has a Siri like solution that can be embedded in other products; Dropbox bought CloudOn a document editing and productivity tools company; Twitter paid somewhere between $30 million and $40 million for Zipdial, an Indian company that does some funky marketing thing with phone hang ups; and finally Microsoft made two acquisitions, startup text analytics company Equivo and in a departure from its history it bought open software company Revolution Analytics. IBM logo

Three years ago in January 2016 there was plenty of activity with some of the household names out shopping.  IBM bought video service provider Ustream; Microsoft bought game form learning tool MinecraftEdu; Apple bought “emotion recognition” company Emotient; and Oracle bought media web tracking firm AddThis.  Toshiba bought an ERP solutions company Ignify, and a number of smaller deals included Juniper Networks buying BTISystems Inc.; FireEye bought iSight partners; Acceo Solutions bought Groupe Techna and SmartPrint bought LaserCorp’s Toronto based managed print services business. Cisco logo

In January 2017 the multi-billion-dollar deal of the month was Cisco’s purchase of app performance management company, AppDynamics for $3.7 billion. HP Enterprise purchased data center hardware provider, SimpliVity for $650 million. Microsoft acquired Montreal-based deep learning start-up Maluuba for an undisclosed sum. Google announced plans to purchase Twitter’s mobile developer platform Fabric. Trello, the startup behind a leading task-management app was purchased by Atlassian for $425 million. CRM giant, Salesforce bought Unity&Variety to enhance its productivity app service Quip Managed Service Provider of data and database administration, Datavail, acquired Canadian IT channel leader Navantis.

Amazon Web ServicesLast year January 2018 the big deal saw investment management software company SS&C pay $5.4 billion for financial services software company DST Systems.  Amazon Web Services increased its cybersecurity protection capabilities through the purchase of Sqrrl.  ADP bought gig economy tool WorkMarket and TD Bank bought a Canadian AI company Layer 6.

Which brings us back to the present…  ACCENTURE LOGO

January 2019 was another fairly busy M&A month.  The biggest deal saw DXC pay $2 billion for digital consultancy Luxoft, DXC also bought another European services company EG A/S. Amazon Web Services made a couple of acquisitions, Israeli data migration company CloudEndure and Vancouver startup TSO Logic, a cloud migration company.  Accenture was another high profile company making multiple acquisition in January, Houston based consulting company Enaxis Consulting, and Orbium a company providing services in the banking sector.  Dropbox splashed $230 million to buy electronic signature company HelloSign; Google bought DORA, a research firm; Microsoft bought database startup Citus; AT Kearney bought consulting company Cervello; and Zix paid $275 million for email security company AppRiver. There were a number of companies announcing layoffs, including Tesla (7% of workforce); AT&T; Verizon Media (7% of workforce); McAfee (200 people) and SAP (4,$00) although SAP suggest they will have net job growth in 2019. Canada added job in December and was up 163,000 jobs for 2018.  There is concern about Europe entering a recession with suggestion that Germany might already be in recession, and the situation in the UK is obviously being affected by the Brexit situation (or non-situation).  Generally around the world job numbers look not too bad, with the US continuing to show strong job growth.  The message of skills shortages is also being heard around the world.

That has been my look at the tech news for January … until next month, Walk Fast and Smile!

IT Industry News for September 2018

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

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

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

What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of September in previous years …

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

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

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

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

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

Which brings us back to the present …

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

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

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

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

That’s what caught my eye over the last month.  The full edition will be available soon on the Eagle website.  Hope this was useful and I’ll be back with the October 2018 tech news in just about a month’s time.

 Until then, Walk Fast and Smile!

Regional Job Market Update for British Columbia

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Regional Vice President at Eagle

Vancouver SkylineWhile the job market in Vancouver and BC might be seen as being relatively flat this year and there have been signs pointing to a softening of the economy, those more qualified than I point to an economy currently operating at near capacity. In general, employment numbers are high and unemployment low. According to Central 1, B.C.’s job vacancy rate is highest amongst all provinces, pointing to a shortage of skilled workers across industries. This is certainly true in the IT sector where specialized skills remain in demand and finding suitable resources remains a challenge. Is the local market tapped out? Not quite, but again, a fairly robust economy, not to mention business and client expectations, means that there are a lot of changes underway. And change, more often than not, leads to opportunity.

So what does the current market offer IT professionals in BC?

We’re definitely seeing an uptick or continuation in the popularity of SAAS and if you combine it with Service Management for example, you should be taking notice of the number of Service Now initiatives taking place not only in BC but across Canada.

More and more of our clients are also in the midst of cloud transformations and there is a need to find project specialists who can assist with managing changes to the delivery of IT to the organization.

Large scale infrastructure projects are also widespread, everything from more basic, but urgent, Windows upgrades to very large deployments of hardware and software. We’ve also noticed a demand for virtualization experts in recent months.

On the application development side, it depends on what you are programming for. Microsoft still controls a large portion of our corporate client’s landscape and we continue to see a need for .NET programmers. But mobile and web developers who have worked with Java or JavaScript related tools such as Node.js, Angular or React will also find a pretty healthy demand for their skills.

What roles are our clients looking for? Despite all of the tech buzz that exists in the market, we continue to network with and recruit senior level Project Managers, Business Analysts, Architects and Testers…the bedrock of any IT project. With all the initiatives underway, project managers who have a strong record of delivering projects from inception to completion will find lots of opportunity in the Lower Mainland. Business Analysts fulfill all kinds of needs on a project. It may be straight forward requirements analysis or there could be aspects of change management and communications or process mapping and reengineering. Enterprise Architects are in short supply and in demand as well and finally testers, both automation and manual varieties are needed.

If you have any of these skills, you should feel pretty good about your employment or engagement opportunities in BC. The public sector and crown corporations are robust. Work, especially in the health sector, has exploded and there is no reason to believe it will slow down. The private sector has a good mix of large, traditional corporations delivering products and services along with a steady influx of startup and app centric software shops. All in all, BC currently offers lots of opportunity but as always in Information Technology, having a bit of a specialization will help open doors.

IT Industry News for August 2018

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

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on September 10, 2018

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

Five years ago in August 2013 IBM paid $1 billion for Trusteer, a cybersecurity company specialized in the financial services sector;  Qualcomm sold its fleet management software unit for $800 million to private equity firm Vista Equity Partners; and the other big dollar buy was AOL paying $405 million for online video company Adap.tv.  Facebook bought speech recognition company Mobile Technology; Software AG bought analytics firm Jackbe; Opentext paid $33 million for cloud based software company, Cordys; and SAP bought ecommerce company Hybris.

Intel logoAugust 2014 saw no blockbuster deals, however a number of big name companies were out with their cheque books.  Intel paid $650 million for the LSI Axxia networking chip business; Vmware bought application delivery provider CloudVolumes; IBM bought Lighthouse Security Group to bolster its cloud based identity and access management capabilities; Google bought two startups, Emu to boost its messaging capabilities and Directr for its video advertising business; Facebook bought a security startup Privatecore, and the last BIG name saw Yahoo buying app company Zofari.

IBM logoThree years ago in August 2015 there were two billion dollar deals.  Symantec sold Veritas (which it paid $13.5 Billion dollars for 10 years ago) to a group of investors for $8 Billion.  IBM also paid ”big bucks”, shelling out $1 billion for Merge Healthcare.  Smaller deals saw Calgary based Above Security bought by Hitachi; Transcomos bought 30% of Vietnamese daily deals site Hotdeal; Freshdesk bought live-chat company 1Click; and PLDT bought ecommerce startup Paywhere.

The apple logo and apple with a bite out of itAugust 2016 saw a fair bit of M&A activity although there were no billion dollar deals.   The largest deal saw global staffing company Randstad buy one of the larger job boards, Monster for $429 million.  A similar sized deal saw Intel shell out $408 million for artificial intelligence company Nervana.  Hewlett Packard Enterprises paid $275 million for SGI (what was left of Silicon Graphics); Apple paid $200 million for artificial intelligence company, (there is a pattern here), Turi; Salesforce bought business analytics company Beyondcore for $100 million; and ScanSource paid $83.6 million for telecom cloud services company Intelisys Communications.  Other acquisitions saw Microsoft snap up two companies, artificial intelligence scheduling software company Genee in addition to their XBox division buying interactive livestreaming company Beam.

Last year August 2017 was relatively slow on the M&A front.  Symantec sold its website security business to DigiCert for $1 billion, plus a stake in the larger entity.  Cisco paid $320 million for hyperconvergence company Springpath, CGI bought a Pittsburgh consulting company, Summa Technologies and Accenture bought a Toronto consulting company VERAX.  While not a pure tech play the biotech world saw Aclaris pay $100million for Confluence.

Which brings us back to the present …

Cisco logoAugust 2018, saw a fair amount of M&A activity, a lot of smaller deals, a few significant moves and some recognizable names out buying companies.   The big deal of the month saw Cisco pay $2.35 billion for access security company Duo Security.  In other deals VMWare paid $500 million for cloud management company CloudHealth; and HP splashed out $500 million for Europe’s largest print provider, Apogee.  Apple snapped up Augmented reality startup Akonia; Accenture made two small acquisitions in the digital space, Mindtribe and Pillar Technology; Intel picked up a small AI company Vertex.Ai and Vonage paid $35 million for video company TokBox.

Apple was also in the news because it became the first public company to reach a $1 trillion valuation, and they were quickly followed by Amazon.

Jobs section of the newspaper under a microscopeGeneral job indicators were good in Canada and even better in the US, which continues to see strong job growth.  There were several reports indicating a growing skills gap for key roles, particularly in tech, both in Canada and the US.  Elsewhere around the world job indicators were relatively strong, with a few exceptions due to Brexit or other external factors.  Of course Canadians continue to watch the unfolding sagas of NAFTA negotiations and the bungled oil pipeline, concerned about what that might do to our economy.

On a final note, “digital” continues to be hot, with Canadian firms expected to spend more than $16 billion on digital tech and services this year.

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

 Until then, Walk Fast and Smile!