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All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to staying informed about trends and regulations.

RSS Feeds Can Help Improve Your Skills

The Easiest Way for Independent Contractors to Increase Training and Development… for Free!

RSS IconIT professionals are always busy juggling contracts, submitting applications and proposals for future work, managing their business and, of course, balancing all of that with their personal life. As with any competitive market, though, if you fall behind, you quickly lose your edge when being considered by recruiters. While you need to stay above water in your day-to-day life, you also need to be planning ahead to keep your skills relevant with the newest trends and technologies.

There are a number of training opportunities out there for independent contractors and free resources to improve your skills, but just learning about them can be time consuming. Rather than wasting time seeking out the latest trends or searching for the best development courses, we recommend letting them come to you! The simplest way to do this? Set up a valuable feed in your favourite RSS Reader.

This isn’t the first time we’ve mentioned RSS Feeds in the Talent Development Centre. To review, nearly every quality blog, periodical, or online resource that regularly publishes information has an RSS Feed, which lists all of its latest content. With the right feed reader (for example Digg or Feedly), you can easily manage each of these feeds.  This video from earlier in the summer provides instructions for setting up your RSS feed.

The first time we suggested setting up an RSS Feed was last Spring, in a post that provided tools to be the most informed independent contractor in your network. It boasts the advantages of LinkedIn and Twitter, along with explaining the benefits of RSS Feeds. In this post, we focused on following clients and job searching opportunities, but the same can be applied to your training and development needs.

The sources you follow don’t need to be geographically close to you, nor do they always have to have content specifically for you. An advantage of feed readers is they allow you to quickly skim through content from a wide array of websites. To get started, think about:

  • Blogs or websites related to your discipline (you probably already know of a few)
  • Larger publications that relate to technology trends
  • Sources that give advice about business and management
  • Any of the sources we suggested last June to keep up-to-date in business and tech trends

Once you’ve set your feed reader, you can forget it, at least until you have time to read it. The best RSS feed readers have a mobile app, so you can check out your articles on the bus, in a waiting room, or when dealing with awkward moments at a family reunion. That’s right! While your annoying cousin is babbling about his trip to the Grand Canyon, you can be learning and moving your business forward!

Bonus: Don’t waste time, use Pocket!

It’s impossible to only come across great articles when browsing your feed reader, but reading the best ones as you find them can be a terrible use of time. To solve this problem, we recommend Pocket. With pocket, you can install a Chrome Extension or download a mobile app, and when you come across that fantastic article, just hit “Save to Pocket”. Now, it will be available for you next time you log into Pocket, at your own convenience.

Keeping on top of technology trends and your trade can be a time-consuming task where you may not feel you’re getting value, but in the long run, you definitely are. As long as you can remain organized and fit it into your schedule properly, you will soar ahead of your competition and gain the attention of recruiters in no time. While there are many elements to training and development, organizing your feeds is certainly a great start.

IT Industry News for July 2016

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

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on August 5th, 2016

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the ICT industry for July 2016. 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, in July 2011 Dell’s move into networking with the purchase of Force10 was possibly the most significant tech deal, with Google (Punchd), Twitter (Backtype) and Adobe (EchoSign) all picking up smaller players to help move their agenda.  Three years ago in July 2012 Marissa Mayer became the new CEO at Yahoo and Dell bought Quest Software for $2.4 billion; Apple picked up Authentec for $356 million and Socialcam acquired Autodesk for $60 million.  Oracle was on a roll, buying (i) the assets of Skire (capital assets and facilities management software), (ii) Involver (a social marketing tools company) and (iii) Xsigo Systems (Network Virtualisation).  Vmware was also busy, picking up Dynamic Ops (virtualisation software) and Nicira (a start-up in the networking software space).  One interesting deal saw Digg bought for $500,000 by Betaworks, when Digg had been valued at $200 million just four years ago. July 2013 was quiet for  M&A Cisco logoactivity 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 a Toronto-based design agency Jet Cooper. Two years ago, July 2014 had a lot of M&A activity but no real blockbuster deals.  blackberryBlackberry 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 continued to rebuild after selling its devices and handsets business to Microsoft, this time buying Panasonic’s 3G and LTE base station operations division.  July 2015 saw no billion dollar deals, but there was some activity with some big names out shopping.  Microsoft made IBM logotwo 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 4 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.

Which brings us back to the present …

July 2016 saw some large deals, with Verizon making two multi-billion dollar acquisitions.  verizonThe 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.

Oracle logo a large software company originally noted for its databaseOther companies in the news in July were Microsoft for their continuing layoffs associated with their Nokia purchase and Facebook’s internet drone program reached a milestone with its first flight.  Oracle also lost a $3 billion lawsuit to HPE going back to a 2011 decision to not support HP Itanium servers.

Things are slow here in Canada, and the US continues to create jobs and show positive signs.

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 2016 industry news in just about a month’s time.

Walk Fast and Smile.

Quarterly Job Market Update Across Canada – July 2016

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

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on July 26th, 2016
Canadian Job MarketGeneral Observations:

There were some positive signs from the second quarter of 2016, but that sentiment by no means suggests it has been a booming market.  Despite some slight increase in oil prices we have seen no positive effect on jobs in the oil patch, and the lack of government support means that confidence in the sector is still low which will result in less potential for investment.  The Fort McMurray fires just “piled misery on” for an already beleaguered province, costing more jobs and lost productivity.  We have not yet seen any stimulus in employment from promised government spending, although it is possible we just haven’t seen it.  The Brexit decision caused ripples in the market, much debate and has had had no impact on employment yet.  It may become an area of opportunity, but that remains to be seen.  The weak dollar has helped some sectors such as the oil patch and the manufacturing sector, plus it is still business as usual for other sectors like the services sector, retail, banking, construction and telecommunications.

The unemployment rate at the end of the second quarter was improved to 6.8% from the Q1 rate of 7.1%.  During the previous 12 months, Canada added 108,000 jobs which was 22,000 less than the 12 months up to last quarter.  It is worth noting that the US continues to add jobs at a rate of 200,000 jobs every month, so we should expect to be adding 20,000 a month to keep pace (so 240,000 jobs in the last 12 months should be an expectation)!

TSXThe stock market continues to be volatile, and had an interesting ride with the Brexit announcement.  Having said that, things have generally settled down in the markets.   I focus on the TSX for this report and it ended Q2 at around 14,100 points which was up about 600 from the end of Q1.

oil rigAs already mentioned the oil patch continues to take a pounding and we don’t anticipate much positive change before 2018.  With oil starting to settle at around $50 a barrel we should see some activity but it will need to settle there for a while before companies act.  Many companies are looking at divesting Canadian assets and investing in other geographies with less opposition and more government support.  Many workers who migrated to the oil patch during the boom have left, and they will be difficult to replace when a recovery does happen.

Canadian dollar the LoonieThe Canadian dollar in comparison to the US dollar is a long way from the days when we flirted with, and passed parity.  At time of writing the dollar is worth about 76c US, which is just a couple of cents weaker than the end of Q1.  The good news is that this helps the oil patch because they sell in US dollars and most costs are in Canadian dollars.  It is also helpful to our manufacturing sector.  Exporters will enjoy favorable pricing too; however, exports have been adversely affected by the economic woes of our trading partners like China.

The banking sector, while a big user of talent and one of the largest employers in Canada is also very careful.  Recent initiatives have seen the banks rationalizing their workforce to ensure they are competitive.  Toronto and Montreal continue to demand talent, just perhaps a little more restrained than in other times.

cell towerThe telecommunications companies are another big employer in Canada and are also very cost conscious.  While they demand the best talent in order to compete, they are also careful about keeping employment costs under control.  Some of the drivers of demand here include the highly competitive nature of the business, investment in infrastructure, technological innovation and a need to plan for a retiring “Boomer” workforce.  The recent purchase of Wind by Shaw might increase competition and potentially open up opportunities should all of the regulatory approvals go through.

The US economy has been adding more than 200,000 jobs a month and while there were a couple of slower months in this last quarter, they made up for it in June.  The result is that the US is still adding 200,000 jobs a month on average.  The demand for skills in the US will lure talent from Canada which is good for the individuals but not so good for Canada in the long term.

ConstructionThe construction industry seems to be forever busy, to which anyone trying to get work done will attest.  Despite the slowdown in the big jobs like the oil sands, there appears to be a constant demand caused by infrastructure upgrades in many of our cities and we have the promise of more such work funded by our growing national debt (was that my out loud voice?).  Anecdotally I have seen numerous Alberta plated cars on job sites around the GTA, which supports the theory that many workers have come back from the oil patch and are finding work elsewhere.

The Liberal government has been in place for about nine months and are continuing to both spend and raise taxes.  There are some expected government projects and infrastructure spending initiatives that should benefit the private sector.  In addition, spending in some ministries will be reduced as others benefit from the new agenda.  Some opportunities will be seen in sectors such as health, environment and education.

The Canadian Staffing Index is an indicator of the strength of the largest provider of talent in any economy (the staffing industry) and an excellent barometer of the health of Canada’s economy. The latest score for the Index is 106 in June.  This indicates a 3% month over month increase in demand for labor and a 5% year over year increase.

Eagle LogoHere at Eagle the big impact on our business continues to be the oil patch, but also many clients are taking advantage of a tough economy to look at their cost base.  This can lead to some layoffs and slower hiring patterns.  Year-over-year the number of people applying for jobs has increased by about 3% and there was a 7% decrease since the last quarter.  Demand from our clients was down 4% year-over-year, and also down 3.5% from last quarter.  This suggests to us that the people affected by the layoffs are now active in their job searches.  We also believe that demand is very patchy, with no sectors booming in demand for professionals.

More Specifically:

cn towerThere is really very little change from my report last quarter.  This is the one market in Canada that has a continual demand for talent.  Toronto is the 5th largest city in North America with a population exceeding 6 million.  The GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is home to the most head offices (almost 700) in Canada and most head office staff (around 75,000).  Consequently it is also the hottest job market in Canada and generates about 60% of Eagle’s business.  While it remains a busy market we have seen some impact from downsizing in large companies that has increased the availability of senior people in the market.  Having said all that, if I were looking for work this is where I would like to be.  The sectors that are always looking for people include the financial, insurance, government and telecommunications sectors in addition to the retail sector and the construction industry.  There is also a fair amount of demand in the engineering and manufacturing space.

The Saddledome in CalgaryAgain very little change from last quarter.  Western Canada and more specifically Calgary as the “oil capital” of Canada, has taken the brunt of the hit from the drop in oil prices.  There have been multiple rounds of layoffs, and more are projected, with the possibility that it may be 2018 before we see a recovery.  When the big oil companies are hurting there is a trickle-down effect to all of the services companies that serve them and the local economy gets affected in retail and housing specifically.  The NDP government has done nothing to help boost confidence in Alberta for investors.  It should not be forgotten that both Saskatchewan and British Columbia have an oil sector too, and while they have been equally hit those provinces, seem to be doing better because their economies are less dependent on one sector.  We have seen reasonable, but not strong, demand for talent in Vancouver, Regina, Winnipeg and Edmonton but remain cautious about the longer term impact of the loss of oil revenues.  This could affect everyone as provincial tax coffers suffer and the ancillary businesses are hit.

Parliament building in OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”. There is a better mood in Ottawa and within the Federal Government (other than the morale issues caused by a non-functioning pay system) but that has not translated into a bunch of work, as we know the contracting process is long and arduous.   There is an expectation that the Liberal government will get some projects back on the books, and there is optimism that a new agenda will lead to more business in the National Capital Region specifically.  Montreal is relatively unchanged, not booming but a steady demand for resources, particularly in the financial and telecommunications sectors.  The Maritime Provinces have traditionally had higher rates of unemployment and this is not changing much so work is tough to find.

The Hot Client Demand.

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

Summary:

The basic message is … more of the same!  The oil patch continues to be in trouble with 2018 the latest target for a recovery of sorts.  Statistics show there are jobs being added in Canada, but the numbers are not impressive particularly when you see how the US is doing.

Federal and provincial governments are talking about stimulus spending and infrastructure projects, so there is an expectation this will create some boost to the economy.  If interest rates remain low, as expected, and the dollar remains fairly low, then we might also see some further growth in Canada’s relatively small manufacturing base.

With Canada’s overall unemployment rate at 6.8%, we can deduce that the unemployment rate for trades and skilled workers to be much lower, perhaps even approaching skill shortage levels.  Even in these uncertain times we see shortages in niche skill areas.

There are definitely still opportunities created because of the demographic pressures (retiring Boomers) and the need for companies to remain competitive.  We see opportunity in the construction industry, the financial sector, the telecommunications sector and the insurance sector.  We see the markets with the greatest demand as being Toronto, Vancouver and perhaps Montreal.  Ottawa is showing promise and could pick up if new projects are initiated by the new government.  Government spending will also provide a boost to employment as the stimulus money becomes available.

That was my look at the Canadian job market for the first quarter in 2016 and some of its influences.

IT Industry News for June 2016

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

This post first appeared on the Eagle Blog on July 6th, 2016

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the tech industry for June 2016. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of June in previous years

Five years ago in June 2011 the big deal of the month was Ericsson’s $1.5 Billion purchase of Tecordia; Oracle made a couple of acquisitions (storage vendor Pillar Data and Google signFatwire Software); Google also made a couple of acquisitions, (analytics company PostRank and advertising management company Admeld).  In June 2012 Microsoft’s $1.2 billion purchase of Yammer was the big deal of the month.  Salesforce paid $689 million for Buddy Media; Google reputedly paid $100 million for Meebo; Facebook bought facial recognition company Face.com; and Oracle bought “social intelligence” company Collective Intellect.  Another “buy” of interest to us at Eagle was the reputedly 7 figure purchase of Bullhorn by Vista Equity Partners (Bullhorn is Eagle’s front office software). Salesforce logoThree years ago, June 2013 saw Salesforce.com’s $2.5 billion purchase of marketing technology company ExactTarget as the big buy of the month.  Other acquisitions saw Irish mobile company Three pay $780 million for O2 Ireland; SanDisk paid $307 million for SMART Storage Systems; Cisco bought Composite Software for $180 million; IBM bought cloud company SoftLayer Technologies; and Buytopia.ca was on a spree with six acquisitions in the last year.  June 2014 saw some significant deals announced with Oracle paying $5 billion for Micros Systems; Sandisk paid $1.1 billion for solid state storage company Fusion-io.  Google continued its push into home automation, witnessed by its subsidiary Nest paying $550 million for cloud-based home monitoring service Dropcam.  Google itself paid $500 million for Skybox Imaging a satellite maker that would enhance the Google Maps capability. Twitter paid $100 million for mobile marketing Intel logoplatform Tap Commerce and Red Hat paid $95 million for eNovance.  Last year, June 2015 saw Intel pay $16.7 Billion for semiconductor company Altera Corp.  Cisco paid $635 million for security firm OpenDNS in addition to picking up OpenStack company, PistonCloud Computing. Microsoft bought 6Wunderkinder, maker of task management app Wunderlist; Ricoh Canada bought Graycon Group a professional services firm headquartered in Calgary; and finally IBM bought OpenStack company Blue Box Group.

Which brings us back to the present

LinkedIn LogoJune 2016 was certainly an interesting month, with the Brexit vote upsetting the markets and causing uncertainty that will likely continue for some time yet; plus there was plenty of M&A activity.  The big deal was undoubtedly the Microsoft purchase of LinkedIn for a whopping $26 billion.  There were other billion dollar deals this month too, Salesforce paid $2.8 billion for e-commerce platform maker Demandware and Amazon announced an extra $3 billion investment in its India operations.  Other significant deals saw Daetwyler Holdings AG pay more than $877 million for Raspberry Pi maker Premier Farnell Plc; Red Hat paid $568 million for API management software company 3Scale; and OpenText paid $315 million for HP’s Customer Communication Management products.  Other deals saw an investment group buy Dell’s software arm; Microsoft bought natural language start up Wand Labs; and Samsung bought cloud computing company Joyent.  Also Google Capital announced its first investment in a public company, investing $46 million in Care.com, an online personal services marketplace platform.

The US economic news was less buoyant, but they still added 170,000 new jobs and all indicators are relatively positive, just not as positive as the past couple of years.  Canada continues to show little sign of booming, but that is likely expected given our dependence on a hurting resource sector and the ambivalence of our governments to provide any help to that sector.

That’s what caught my eye over the last month, the full edition will be available soon on the Eagle website.  Hope this was useful and I’ll be back with the July 2016 industry news in just about a month’s time.

IT Industry News for May 2016

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

This post first appeared on Eagle’s CEO Blog on June 6, 2016

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the tech industry for May 2016. 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 2011 the biggest news was Microsoft’s record breaking offer of $8.5 Billion for Skype.  Other M&A activity included Nvidia paying $367M for Icera; Rambus buying Cryptography Research for $342M in the security space; Sandisk acquiring Pliant Technology in the storage world for $327M; and Twitter paying $40M for TweetDeck.  Facebook logoIn May 2012 Facebook went public and there was a fair amount of M&A activity.  The largest deal saw SAP’s $4.3 Billion acquisition of Ariba with CGI’s $2.8 Billion acquisition of Logica PLC of particular interest to those of us here in Canada!  EMC continued its pattern of acquisitions with the $430 million purchase of XtremIO: perennial acquirer Oracle paid $300 million for social media marketing firm Vitrue; in the storage space Seagate paid $186 million for a controlling interest in LaCie; Microsoft invested $300 million in a Barnes & Noble subsidiary; and LinkedIn paid $118 million for Slideshare.  There was plenty more activity, but with the amounts not published.  Twitter bought RestEngine; IBM bought customer analytics company Tealeaf Technology; VMware bought Wanova; and Cisco Yahoo logobought Truvisco.  The big news three years ago in May 2013 was Yahoo’s $1.1 billion purchase of Tumblr.  The $6.9 billion deal to take BMC Software private did not cause the same kind of splash … the power of the brand?  Manitoba Tel decided to shed its Allstream division to a holding company for $520 million; McAfee paid $389 million for Finnish security firm Stonesoft; Dell added to its cloud capabilities with the purchase of Estratius; AVG bought PrivacyChoice; and Ottawa based N-Able Technologies became one more Canadian company to be bought by a larger US company, this time Solarwinds for $120 million.  In May 2014 AT&T paid $50 billion for DirectTV and Apple paid $3 billion for Beats. Google continued to invest in its Android strategy this time with a strategy company, Divide, that will bring help breaking into the enterprise.  Other acquisitions saw Seagate pay $450 million for some flash capability from Avago (the LSI divisions); GE bought cyber security firm Wurdtech; EMC bought a flash (see the trend) start-up DSSD; Time Warner SAPbought Youtube video network FullScreen; and SAP bought behavioral target marketing company SeeWhy.  Last year May 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.

Which brings us back to the present …

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

The apple logo and apple with a bite out of itOther companies in the news included Apple who invested $1 billion into the Chinese “Uber” called Didi Chuxing; and Microsoft announced another 1,850 job cuts related to its mobile phone business.

One security report out of the UK suggests that two thirds of large businesses have suffered cyber attacks; another IDC report suggests the big data and analytics market will expand by 50% over the next 4 years; and a Gallup report tells us that millennials are changing jobs faster than any other cohort.

Economic data continues to show a Canadian economy that is limping along and a US economy that continues to grow (another 165,000 new jobs last month).  Other countries with positive news included the UK, Ireland, Germany and, New Zealand.  China also reported that demand exceeds supply for its labour force.  The Caribbean and Latin America are however predicting increased unemployment.

That is my look at the May tech news.  The full edition will be available soon on the Eagle website.  Hope this was useful and I’ll be back with the June 2016 industry news in just about a month’s time… until then, walk fast and smile!

Stay Informed with these Twitter & RSS Feeds

Our Favourite People to Follow to Keep Up-to-Date in Business, Job Searching, Tech Trends and IT Contracting

Our Favourite People to Follow to Keep Up-to-Date in Business, Job Searching, Tech Trends and IT ContractingIn recent months, we’ve promoted the practice of building a list of Twitter or RSS Feeds to follow your favourite sources and keep on top of the latest trends. You may now be a pro in setting up your feeds but, what we neglected to tell you are some suggestions on who to follow.

Below are some of our favourite sources, and a link to their Twitter and RSS Feeds (if available). Feel free to use as many of these as you wish. If you have any suggestions on companies you like to follow, please share them with our audience in the comments below.

Eagle

General Interest and Business Articles

Job Search/Workplace Tips

Tech Trends

Running Your Business

Create a Custom RSS Feed and Improve Your Job Search

A few months ago, we shared some tips to make you one of the most informed independent contractors in your network, which would ultimately help you build relationships with clients and find more contracts. One reliable source we suggested was RSS Feeds, which provide up-to-date information about a company or the most recent news articles from your favourite blog or publication. Unfortunately, not everyone is familiar with these feeds and setting them up can take time so, although extremely helpful, many contractors don’t use RSS Feeds.

We want to solve that problem and remove the stigma that following RSS Feeds is complex and time consuming. This short video shows you how to find your favourite feeds and organize them in a feed reader, so you can always have your favourite news at your fingertips.

IT Industry News for April 2016

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

This post first appeared on Eagle’s CEO Blog on May 4, 2016
Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the tech industry for April 2016. 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 April in previous years…

Five years ago in April 2011 Texas Instruments bought National Semiconductor for $6.5 billion, Level 3 Communications paid $3 Billion for Global Crossing, Lawson Software was sold for $2 Billion to GGC Software Holdings (an Infor company) and Seagate bought the hard disk drive operations of Samsung.  In April 2012 Facebook made Facebook logoa $1 billion bid for Instagram, Facebook also bought a piece of the patent action from Microsoft after Microsoft had paid AOL more than $1 billion for the patents.  DELL made three acquisitions this month, Wyse technology, Clerity Solutions and Make Technologies.  IBM picked up Toronto based BI company Varicent Software; Intel paid $140 million for some assets from Cray; Citrix picked up Podio; and Twitter bought a startup to acquire its rogersteam of developers. Three years ago in April 2013 Rogers paid $200 million for Primus’s Blackiron subsidiary, including datacenter capability; Toronto based Softchoice also chose to go private in a $412 million private equity deal; Shaw paid $225 million for an Enmax fibre network subsidiary in Calgary; Best Buy sold its stake in Carphone Warehouse for $775 million (having paid $2.1 billion in 2008).  Google paid $30 million for social company Wavii.  Other big names on the acquisition trail this month include Intel (Mashery), IBM (Urbancode); Computer Associates (Nolio).  Finally Facebook had a couple Microsoft logoof small acquisitions Osmeta and Parse.  April 2014 saw 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.  Last year in Nokia logoApril 2015 there was plenty of action.  Nokia was the biggest story, paying $16.5 Billion for telecom company Alcatel-Lucent, but there was also a $4Billion 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.

Which brings us back to the present…

Bell logoApril 2016 saw some big deals, the biggest was Bell’s $3.8 billion bid for Manitoba Telephone System, which if approved will change the Canadian telco landscape a little.  Other large deal saw a Chinese conglomerate bid $3.6 billion for Lexmark; and Mitel 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.

Intel logoAs mentioned earlier Nokia announced layoffs, expected after last year’s acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent.  Intel also announced major layoffs of 12,000 staff, reacting to the decline PC sales.

There were some interesting reports about growth in the emerging markets for robotics and Internet of things security while there is also a projected decline in general IT spending for 2016.  This quarter also saw the first decline in smartphone sales as that market reaches saturation however China is expected to grow its technology spend this year.

The US managed to add another 215,000 jobs in March and almost every indicator was positive.  Canada also grew its employment by 40,000 jobs but the economic situation is not as rosy as we see South of the border.

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 March 2016

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
CEO at Eagle

This post first appeared on Eagle’s CEO Blog on April 7, 2016

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the tech industry for March 2016. 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…

Five years ago, March 2011 saw Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear woes.  On the tech front Montreal’s Radian6 was snapped up by Salesforce.com for about Facebook logo$276 million; Facebook made a couple of acquisitions in the mobile space Snaptu and Beluga; YouTube paid about $50 million for Next New Networks; McAfee bought database security firm Sentrigo; Cisco bought portal company newScale; Teradata bought data analytics startup Aster data … a continuation of the consolidation in the red hot data space; and OpenText bought a mobile app development tool vendor WeComm.  In March 2012 there was some activity with a couple of (then) young companies receiving significant Cisco logocapital — Appirio ($60 million) and Hootsuite ($20 million).  Cisco made a couple of acquisitions, paying a whopping $5 billion for video software and content company NDS Group in addition to a smaller network management buy, ClearAccess.  NEC paid $450 million for the information management business of Convergys and Avaya paid $230 million for an Israeli videoconferencing and telepresence company Radvision.  Other companies on the acquisition trail were DELL, EMC, SafeNet, Avnet and The Utility Company.  Three years ago, March 2013 saw some of the “usual suspects” making acquisitions, but there were no billion dollar deals announced.  Oracle continued its move Google signinto the telco space with the purchase of Tekelec; Google bought a small Toronto University based company DNNresearch in the machine learning vertical; Microsoft sold Atlas Advertiser Suite to Facebook; and Yahoo bought Summly.  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 HP logodivision.  Last year, March 2015 saw some significant M&A activity with HP paying $3 billion for Aruba Networks; Lexmark paying $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 networkMobPartner;  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.

Which brings us back to the present…

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.

IBM logoWhile IBM was bolstering its services business through acquisitions it was also trimming staff, with a reputed 14,000 jobs on the block.  Other companies laying off staff included SurveyMonkey and smartwatch company Pebble.  Cisco meanwhile was spreading some cash around with significant investments into India’s digital connectivity initiatives and a smart city initiative in Berlin.

In other news, the tech world lost a couple of icons. Andy Grove, founder of Intel, passed away, as did Ray Tomlinson the inventor of email.

On the economic front the US added another 200,000 jobs in February and the various surveys were generally positive.  Canada on the other hand lost 2,300 jobs and the unemployment rate hit 7.3%.

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!

Keep Up-to-Date and Improve Your Job Search

3 Tools That Will Make You the Most Informed Contractor in Your Network

Having the right knowledge and information is a massive competitive advantage in the IT contracting market. The more up-to-date you are on client news, industry trends, and opportunities, the easier it is to find work and keep a steady flow of contracts. Unfortunately, there is no magical place you can go to that has all of that customized and readily available for you each morning… or is there? No, there isn’t.  At least not without a bit of work up-front.

What do you want to know?

The quest for being well informed begins with knowing what it is you want to be informed about. Take some time to plan out every source from which you want frequent updates. Consider your top clients or companies with whom you want to work, your top staffing agencies, some other job boards that have brought you success, and news websites or blogs that provide information on the latest trends in your trade. Now you have a list, albeit long, it’s a list. Your next step is to find a tool that will aggregate and organize all of the information for you.

LinkedIn

LinkedInThe simplest tool is probably LinkedIn because most contractors are already there. Go through your target client list, company-by-company, search out their page, and follow them. Now, updates from that company will appear on your newsfeed whenever you log in. As long as you’re in the habit of checking regularly (LinkedIn’s mobile app makes it very easy), you should be fairly up-to-date on your favourite companies.

Unfortunately with LinkedIn, “fairly up-to-date” is the best you can hope for. If you manage to find all of the LinkedIn pages for your favourite companies, you’ll also find that some don’t post updates. For those who are active, it’s almost guaranteed that they’re not posting all news and opportunities – they don’t want to spam their newsfeeds.

Speaking of newsfeeds, just because you follow somebody, it doesn’t mean their updates will appear in your feed. LinkedIn can’t show you everything, so it automatically filters posts based on what it thinks is more relevant to you.

Twitter

Twitter is the other social network where you’ll have good results with company updates. As with LinkedIn, there’s no guarantee that everybody has a Twitter account and, if they do, there is no guarantee that they’re active. The biggest differentiator between Twitter and LinkedIn is the posting etiquette. Where most pages on the professional social network only post a maximum of two to three times a day, Twitter profiles are more open, sometimes posting over twenty times per day. And Twitter feeds include all posts.

Many companies have a Twitter account dedicated to posting everything they publish — every article, every job opportunity, and all company news. Twitter is fantastic if you want instantaneous news, but it’s overwhelming, which is why lists are mandatory if you want to be organized. Twitter Lists allow you add certain profiles into a group, for example “IT Contract Opportunities.” Then, when you’re interested in learning more about that specific topic, you can view the news only in that list. We recommend using a tool such as HootSuite to manage and view your lists even more efficiently.

RSS Feeds

LinkedIn and Twitter are fantastic, but they are flawed in that they require a company to continually maintain their posts. Organizations often start with good intentions of posting everything, but those posts can start to fade. That’s what makes RSS Feeds the superior method of following a company.

RSS Feeds automatically publish frequently updated information from specific web pages, such as blog entries, job boards, press releases and news headlines. RSS Feeds are a great “set it and forget it” tool, meaning once an RSS feed has been created, as long as no other back-end code changes affect it, the feed is continuously updating. (For example, you can view the RSS Feeds for the Talent Development Centre, Eagle Jobs, and Eagle’s CEO Blog)

RSS IconIt takes a little bit more work upfront, but you can take advantage of RSS Feeds by subscribing to a feed reader (ex. Digg, Feedly, or any other app that you may find). Then, visit each company’s website to search for their feed (it’s often found by clicking on an image like the one to the right) or search out the company directly from your feed reader.  Like Twitter, you can then group all of your feeds, and all of the most up-to-date information is available to you each time you open the reader. If you’re still loyal to Twitter accounts but like the idea of RSS Feeds, this site will help you turn any Twitter feed into an RSS feed.

So what are you waiting for? It may take a time commitment to set yourself up properly, and you need to set time aside to keep up with all of your new information, but it’s well worth it. You’ll know about jobs as soon as their published, client news as soon as it breaks, and hot trends before they make it to the water cooler!