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

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!

Canadian Job Market Update

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

Canadian Job Market UpdateIn the second half of 2018 the general message to technology job seekers is a positive one, and below I will explain why, and also why there is some caution to that statement.

On the face of things a 5.8% unemployment rate is as good as it has been, and Canada has created 240,000 jobs (mostly full time) in the last twelve months which is all good.  The downside for the economy is that a large portion of those jobs have been public sector, which while good for the job seeker today is not at all good for Canada’s economy.  As we have seen in Ontario, a change in political power means that investment in public sector jobs can change quickly as Ontario has a hiring freeze and a pay freeze for executives.  Overall I expect there to be plenty of opportunity in the public sector due to the large numbers of retirees that will need to be replaced, even if new jobs are curtailed.

Canada’s economy, like most of the world, is doing well. The TSX as a representative market indicator is in around the 16,500 points which is about 1,500 higher than last year.  The price of a barrel of oil is up around 65c which is much better than the $50 we saw perhaps a year ago.  As indicated above, the unemployment numbers are also good.  The Canadian dollar has ranged between 75c and 80c for a while, but NAFTA negotiations, the trade war with the US, the potential carbon tax impacts, loss of investment in Canada, the continuing oil patch debacle and recent labor law changes in Ontario can all conspire to change the situation.

One of the drivers of opportunity for jobs in Canada is the success of the US market, which has added jobs consistently, month over month since the last recession.  The stories of skills shortages, particularly in tech are common.  The TechServe Alliance attributes the slowing in growth of IT jobs to the growing skills shortage in the tech space.  We are seeing, and will continue to see large Global companies with headquarters in the US opting to add capacity in Canada, where there is an educated workforce, in similar time zones and within easy reach of head office.  Amazon, Facebook, Google and others have announced such activity in recent months.  So opportunities will exist for people willing to relocate to the US, in addition to jobs in Canada being created by US companies.

The GTA is Canada’s largest market, and is home to more head offices than any other city in Canada by a large margin.  The financial sector is largely headquartered here and is a huge employer of technology resources.  The telecommunications industry also has a large tech base in the GTA.  As the fourth largest city in North America 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.  The one exception would be Calgary, which has not returned to pre-oil crisis levels of activity but is still busier this year than last.

The type of roles that have been in most demand at Eagle in the recent past have been developers, business analysts, project managers, Sys Admins, Architects and database admins.

In summary, people with tech skills should have little difficulty in finding employment, either contract or perm for the foreseeable future.  A willing ness to relocate to the bigger centres will only increase their marketability.  The only potential downside is whether Canada can maintain its competitiveness given the aggressive approach of the US administration in supporting US business.  I expect our government to act at some point to provide relief to Canadian business.

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.

That’s my look at the Canadian Job market to date in 2018.

IT Industry News for July 2018

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

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on August 14th, 2018.

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

Five years ago, July 2013 was quiet for M&A activity, but there were some interesting deals, with the big deal involving perennial acquirer Cisco shelling out $2.7 billion for security vendor Sourcefire. There were some other big names out shopping with EMC buying identity management company Aveska, Intel making an acquisition in Israel (a trend) of Omek a company specialised in the perceptual computing arena.  Apple bought Locationary, a Toronto company that is expected to be involved in improving Apple’s maps for iOS (remember when Apple dropped Google Maps!)  Finally, Ottawa’s Shopify bought Toronto-based design agency Jet Cooper.

Oracle logo a large software company originally noted for its databaseJuly 2014 had a lot of M&A activity but no real blockbuster deals.  BlackBerry bought encryption company Secusmart GmbH; Oracle bought cloud services company TOA Technologies; Twitter bought a startup Madbits, a company that focuses on the media space; Yahoo also bought a startup Flurry in the mobile apps space; Teradata bought a couple of smaller “big data” companies, Hadapt and Revelytix; Apple bought a couple of smaller “books & podcast” companies Booklamp and Concept.io; Qualcomm bought education company EmpoweredU; and finally Nokia continue to rebuild after selling its devices and handsets business to Microsoft, this time buying Panasonic’s 3G and LTE base station operations division.

Microsoft logoJuly 2015 saw no billion-dollar deals, but there was some activity with some big names out shopping.  Microsoft made two acquisitions, paying $320 million for cloud security company Adallom and also picked up customer servicing software company FieldOne Systems. IBM picked up database as a service company Compose; Cisco paid $139 million for sales automation company MaintenanceNet; HP bought a cloud development platform Stackato; Blackberry bought AtHoc which is a crisis communication tool; and DropBox bought messaging company Clementine.  Other acquisitions saw Cisco as a seller, with Technicolor paying $600 million for Cisco’s set top box division; Level 3 bought security firm Black Lotus; Amadeus bought travel software company Navitaire (a subsidiary of Accenture) for $830 million; eBay sold its enterprise unit for $925 million, having paid $2.4 billion for it four years ago.  In the continued blurring of the lines between technology companies and other industries, Capital One bank acquired design, development and marketing firm Monsoon.

Yahoo logoJuly 2016 saw some large deals, with Verizon making two multi-billion-dollar acquisitions.  The big name was Yahoo who they bought for $4.83 billion, but they also paid $2.4 billion for Fleetmatics who provide fleet and mobile workforce management services.  Oracle were also out spending big dollars, paying $9.3 billion for cloud based ERP company, Netsuite. Now if those deals were not big enough, Softbank (like Verizon they have a large telco presence – formerly Vodafone) paid a whopping $32.2 billion for chip designer ARM Holdings. Also joining the July billion dollar club was security vendor Avast, who bought AVG for $1.3 billion. Other deals this month saw Salesforce pay $582 million for cloud based startup Quip; Google bought video company Anvato; Terradata bought training company Big Data Partnership; and Opentext bought analytics company Recommind.

Mitel LogoJuly 2017 saw Cincinnati Bell buy Hawaiian Telcom Holdco for $650 million and OnX for $201 million. Mitel paid $430 million for ShoreTel and bought Toshiba’s unified communications business. In Toronto, digital signage solution provider, Dot2Dot, acquired Pixel Point Digital. PNI Canada Acuireco Corp. purchased Sandvine Corp. for $562 million and plans to merge Sandvine with Procera Networks.

Which brings us back to the present …

July 2018 was busy in the M&A world, with the biggest deal of the month, a somewhat unlikely $19 billion acquisition of CA Technologies by Broadcom, who are clearly planning to expand beyond the semiconductor world.  Solution provider, Atos is paying $3.45 billion for Syntel, creating a large North American presence.  Fortive is paying $2 billion for physical resource management software company Accruent, and the last billion dollar deal of the month sees SS&C pay $1.45billion for investment technology company Eze Software.  Other deals saw AT&T buy cybersecurity company Alienvault; Hitachi bought AWS integrator Rean; Intel bought specialty chip maker eAsic Corp; Accenture continued its acquisition spree with the purchase of AI company Kogentix; and Getronics re-entered the North American market with the purchase of Pomeroy.

Other companies in the news included Google, who were fined $5 billion by European antitrust regulators and Dell who announced plans to go public again.

The US economy continues to have strong indicators in almost every category, with a growing concern about skills shortages in the tech space.  The Canadian market added jobs, but most of them were public sector jobs and one report shows Canada’s ICT sector as performing poorly versus the other G7 countries.  Employment indicators from most countries around the world were generally positive.

Other topics of interest include, news that the Facebook group of companies have 2.5 billion people using their services at least once a month; the cost of data breaches to Canadian companies is on the rise; and people with Blockchain expertise are among the most in demand resources.

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

Walk Fast and Smile.

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Has The Calgary Market Finally “Turned The Corner”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IT Industry News for May 2018

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

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

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000-foot look at events in the ICT industry for May 2018. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of May in previous years …

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

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

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

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

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

Which brings us back to the present …

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

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

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

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

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