Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: technology

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian IT Contractors relating to technology.

Banking and Technology — Reaching an Inflection Point

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

The banking industry today is one of the drivers of innovation in Information Technology in Canada and around the world. Yet, many of the established big banks have legacy systems that threaten to drag them down in the coming tsunami of change. In times of great change and confusion, there are opportunities for the wise consultant.

It wasn’t that long ago that banks were using green-screen technology and were still doing so long after rolling out the first ATMs. They weren’t often thought of as being leading-edge users of newer technology; after all, they needed certainty of operation, maximum uptime, few errors. Bleeding-edge technology was often a bit risky in these respects. Furthermore, the processing that they did need required very large and very expensive (and very consistent/predictable) mainframe computers. They were a large investment that was needed to scale with the banks’ growing businesses. Much of this changed with advent of internet banks who limited the physical requirements of typical brick-n-mortar facilities and offered ubiquitous convenience of anytime, anywhere banking (providing you had access to the internet). These new banks were nimble, technologically-advanced and great marketers. Seemingly all-of-a-sudden, new products, new ways to reach people, and new technology became key differentiators for market disrupting upstarts and innovation became a necessity to the slower-to-change institutional banks.

Number of ICT Workers in CanadaThe big banks’ world was changing and they were being ‘leap-frogged’ by these borderless entities. The change was on! Today, Toronto and Montreal have a large share of the IT talent supply in Canada (45%+ of all talent in Canada) and at least some of this is the result of the strength of demand/needs coming from the strong banking sector. New technology and new ideas are being envisioned, piloted and rolled-out by even the stodgiest of banks. Digital and business transformation, the new paradigm taken up by so many of today’s companies and organizations, is absolutely rampant in the banking industry.

Ok… You’re saying, ‘So tell me something I don’t know’.  Well… How about a short history lesson that might shed some light on what the banking industry may be facing?

For those of us with some grey hair, this situation is quite reminiscent of what happened around the turn of the century in the Telco space. What happened there was that large, ponderous, Regional Bell Operating Companies (to use the old vernacular) had been implementing massive telephone technology systems, incurring huge costs to do so and then amortizing the expense of it all over decades. They had near (or actual) monopolies, long distance calling rates were atrocious, and they had time on their side with little enticement to innovate. Canadian company, Northern Telecom (later Nortel), was a mainstay in the industry, selling their telephony solutions to the world. Then came Internet Protocol (IP)… and the game changed for them and for the RBOC’s, seemingly overnight.

In reality, it wasn’t really all that fast (not by today’s standards) but they were about to be one of the first large industries to learn the lessons that disruptive technology has taught to so many since then. Smaller, more nimble telephone companies began popping up everywhere (CLEC’s – Competitive Local Exchange Carriers) leveraging newer technology that took advantage of high-bandwidth data trunks and new switching technology. Although still expensive, they were able to piggy-back on the networks that the RBOC’s had built (Gov’t regulators demanded the RBOCs allow them to do so). The cost per call was dropping dramatically as a result and data was able to be transmitted in volumes that actually made sense for businesses. The internet had its highways. What came of this was that the well-financed old equipment companies and the quick-and-nimble upstarts were pitted against each other — companies like Nortel coming from the high-reliability world of telecommunications and those like Cisco coming from the world of data-networking. Initially Nortel joked that they’d learn to spell ‘IP’ before Cisco could learn to spell ‘reliability’ and, for the most part, they were able to hold their own. At one-point, Nortel employed over 60,000 people in their research-and-development facility (BNR – Bell Northern Labs) alone. Both sides created great new products. Nortel had age-old client relationships with the telco’s on their side along with excellent quality products, and the likes of Cisco produced innovative and cheaper alternatives. It was the ‘space race’ of the telecommunications industry. Fantastic new products were coming out quicker and quicker… which sounds great …until it wasn’t.

Their customers — the RBOCs and the CLECs — were in a feeding frenzy of buying. It seemed that every 6 months, a better, faster, more progressive solution was coming out. CLECs were leap-frogging the RBOCs to offer better and cheaper service to consumers. Then the RBOCs would leap-frog them back again. The problem for all the players in this industry was that they no longer had time on their side. They didn’t have time to amortize the very high costs of the new technology before the next iteration came out and they were forced to buy/implement/replace or be unable to compete. It was a global race to the bottom and RBOCs and CLECs alike were running out of money — especially the CLECs, many of whom were relatively new business start-ups, part of the dotcom craze. Nortel’s clients couldn’t afford the new gear anymore so Nortel began ‘selling’ their new products and taking equity in these companies as payment. The whole industry and their supply chains became dangerously over-leveraged, a veritable house-of-cards. Then the dotcom bubble burst and most of the CLECs went out of business, dragging the over-leveraged Nortel (and many of their suppliers) down with them.

So, back to the Banking/Finance Industry today. Some of the obvious parallels are the ‘old guard’ who were titans in the industry with wide moats to protect their market share and had relatively little technical innovation for many years. Then come the upstarts, leveraging new technology to change the game. And then the response from the established banks to modernize to be able to compete and, in fact, push on the boundaries of what was possible before. The big banks also have a similar challenge to the Regional Bell Operating Companies, and that is they are somewhat handcuffed by the older, legacy systems that they’d deployed. The new companies don’t have this to worry about. They can move 100% to new technology, whereas the big banks have huge investments tied up in their mainframe technology and, worse, no easy or quick or cheap ways to get off this technology.  As the legacy banks struggle with this piece, the staff that they have managing this infrastructure move dangerously close to retirement — and there are not a lot of Cobol programmers out there ready to step into the vacated roles!

Of course, there are a lot of differences between the Telco and Banking scenarios as well. It has been almost 20 years since the dotcom crash, and everyone has seen lesson after lesson on the disruptive impact technology can have on entire industries, and people are quicker to react to the challenge. And banks are definitely not cash strapped — they have the ability to invest in new technology, in transforming their business, in moving into or out of markets. And, most important to IT experts/contractors, they have the ability to hire many of the best IT people the market has to offer!

Banks, old and new, need to get their technology/business process mix just right. Their continued market success and very survival depends upon it. Innovation = Technology + People. With enough money, the Technology part of this equation is easy… the People part is what is strategically important! As I mentioned earlier, in times of great change and confusion, there are opportunities for the wise consultant.

Disclaimer:

I’m going to pre-acknowledge (before anyone chooses to call me out) that, for the purposes of this blog post, I’ve oversimplified the Telco/Nortel/Cisco/market crash scenario. There were many, many additional factors that played out. However, this is how I remembered it and the lessons that I took away. I worked during those years for Northern Telecom, and a failed CLEC (Norigen), and was part of companies (Anixter and ADNS – Ameritech Data Networking Solutions) building out the data-highways to which I refer in this blog post. I was part of the industry at that time and lived through the ups and downs of it. So, I ask that I be allowed to share my opinion based on what I witnessed directly.

That said, if you have other opinions or experiences of your own and would like to share with our readership… please do so by leaving a comment below!

How Can Technology Help Us Sleep Better

It’s 2 AM and you’re awake although it’s way past your planned bedtime and you need to be up for work in less than six hours. So, why aren’t you sleeping? The reason is probably that you’re on your smartphone or laptop scrolling down on your social media pages or binge-watching a TV show and you can’t stop. If that, in fact, is the case, you shouldn’t worry. It’s happening to a lot of us really. Just in the last several years, around 60% of young people have admitted to having inadequate sleep.

The first notion that you can get from this is that technology is bad for your sleep, but this is not entirely true. Not all technology affects our sleeping patterns in a negative way. Some studies have actually shown that you can use technology to your own advantage, and that tech can be effectively used to help you sleep better. Here’s how.

Snoring

Around 30% of people in the world frequently experience snoring. While this doesn’t affect them much, it does affect other folks in the household, especially spouses whom they are sharing the bed with.

Since snoring usually occurs when we sleep on our backs, gadgets like Philips SmartSleep Snoring device detect this and encourage the user to change position. Other devices of this kind include the Hüpnos Snoring Mask and the Urgonight EEG Headband.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is also quite common and can be caused by weight, enlarged tonsils, smoking, drinking, and some other factors. Around 20% of people worldwide suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.

Programs like SlumberBUMP try to accustom people to sleep on their sides, which solves this problem to a degree. BiPAP machine is very effective at treating patients with sleep apnea, and you also might want to try Theravent EPAP technology.

Insomnia

Insomnia, which is a medical term for having trouble falling asleep, can have many causes, the most common being physical or emotional discomfort, stress, extreme temperatures, light, and depression. Almost every third person complains about having insomnia.

Some medication can help you fall asleep faster, but there is also all kinds of technology that can work to your advantage. Sleepio is a system that detects your sleeping issues and optimizes your sleep routines. If the source of your insomnia is light, try the biological Good Night LED Bulbs that were originally developed for NASA astronauts.

Narcolepsy

While some people can’t get enough sleep, others get too much of it. Narcolepsy is a disorder of excessive sleep, and while it’s not common, it still affects one in every 2,000 Americans. There are different light gadgets that you can use to alleviate the symptoms of narcolepsy, like LED Skylights, Verilux HappyLight Deluxe, and Day-Light Sky.

Nightmares

We all have bad dreams from time to time, and occasionally we get those awful nightmares that scare us so much that we are afraid to fall back to sleep again. Nightmares can be caused by stress, anxiety, trauma, or other factors. While we cannot really control what we dream about, we can still use tech to avoid nightmares from happening.

One thing called the ReScript Treatment seems to be the most effective. It helps patients have greater control over their visual imagery by implementing the creative use of virtual reality. It’s sort of a training program that teaches you how to change what you see in your sleep to a more pleasing image.

Check out a visual of some solutions below and visit the original page for the complete infographic.

Solve Your Sleep Problems with Technology

What Trends are Shaping Fintech and Where is it Heading?

Trends are a great way to navigate and learn about the world we live in. They aren’t just the reason you had that awful hair cut when you were 15 years old or the neon colored pants you wore to your first high school dance.

Trends are a great tool to help predict the markets. They are tools that can be used to be proactive and get you ahead of the competition if you read them right. Just look at financial technology companies in most recent years. Take a look at the infographic from Cashalo and see the trends for yourself. Financial technology companies are offering many opportunities for independent contractors and the future looks bright!

What Trends are Shaping Fintech and Where is it Heading?

Top 5 Tech Trends That You Should Follow in 2020

This guest post is provided by Anastasia Stefanuk at Mobilunity

Changes in the technology trends are very disruptive as well as very rapid in recent decades, especially in the field of IT and communication. The impact of technology changes in information and computer technology ICT has put the employment of a large number of employees on stake. Numerous recruitment process outsourcing models emerged to replace traditional employment. Automation of industrial processes powered by the ICT has almost revolutionized the employment landscape globally.

According to the latest research, more than 47% of the global employees are facing the risk of losing employment due to the technological factor affecting business in all kinds of industries worldwide. Let’s explore the major tech trends in business in 2020 that can disrupt the existing way of doing business in the world.

Importance of Technology Trends

Circuit board pattern and puzzle

Technology trends are very crucial for all kinds of businesses in the world nowadays owing to the widespread influence of ICT and other technological factors in modern businesses and industries. Almost half of the world employment is at stake due to the pervasive influence of automation processes. The expected number of industrial robots to be deployed in the industries across the globe in 2019 is about 2.6 million units. These robots improve work efficiency and industrial productivity significantly. According to the Statista predictions, the total size of the robotic process automation RPA is expected to cross $4.9 billion by 2020.

There are many other technology trends such super-speed communication networks, smart vehicles, home automation, virtual reality, wearable devices, and centralization and integration of businesses processes will impact all types of industries, businesses, and lifestyles of this world. In short, change is a big technology factor in the business of the present world.

Top 5 Tech Trends in Business in 2020

If we look at the global ecosystem of the industries and business across the world, we will come to know that technology trends are continuously changing. But, it is very important to note that the major disruptive changes in any field of technology are powered by the ICT advancements. The other technology changes are also heavily influenced by the changes in ICT technologies. So, ICT is the technology trendsetter in the present global world. Let’s have a look at the top 5 technology trends in business in 2020.

Trend #1 AI Powered Development

Artificial intelligence is not a new thing in the world of technology, but the maturity of the technology is ripened nowadays in all forms of business and industries. The software development powered by artificial intelligence AI and machine learning has opened up new dimensions for communication automation, entertainment, digital marketing, healthcare, defense, and other fields of businesses. The use of chatbots is one of the examples of AI enabled software development. Virtual reality and augmented reality (VR/AR) are the major components of AI enabled development that is getting stronger roots in modern businesses across the globe. According to the latest research, more than 80% of the routine repetitive tasks in documents, record management, HR processes, bookings, CRM, and other processes can be automated through the next generation software programs powered by the AI and machine learning technologies.

Trend #2 Internet of Things (IoT)

Internet of things commonly referred to as IoT technology is a new tech trend for a few years now. It will also remain a top technology trend in 2020. According to the Energias Market Research forecast, the total size of the IoT market is expected to reach $6.5 trillion by 2024 from just $1.2 trillion in 2017. The global market size of the internet of things is projected to grow at over 26.6% CAGR between 2018 and 2024.

This technology is not only growing in the home automation but also in all fields of businesses and day to day life. With the help of IoT technology powered by the high-speed internet and modern trends of communication, you can automate processes in your car, at home, at the garage, at the office, at public places, at government offices, and even everywhere you just name it. Internet of things is an integrated technology based on sensors and integrated communication technology. The sensors sense different parameters and communication technologies help to send signals to alert the human or automated process to take action remotely or automatically.

Trend #3 Blockchain Technology

Blockchain technology is emerging as one of the most powerful and secure software technologies for managing numerous software-based processes in all major industries of the world. The origination of this technology is associated with the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, which is a type of virtual currency without any intermediary authority to regulate. This technology is a chain of blocks of information that are distributed across computer networks in the world. It is also known as distributed information ledger.

According to the TMR forecast report cited in the Global News Wire says the total market size of blockchain technology is expected to reach $20 billion by 2024 with a gigantic growth of 58.9% between 2016 and 2024. There are many governments in the world are considering this technology to use in the most secure and mission-critical government systems like finance, defense, voting, and utility systems. The introduction of cryptocurrencies in different countries is also becoming a big option for many governments in the world.

Trend #4 5G Communication Technology

5G communication technology is going to become a big technology trend in 2020. It has already hit the ground in many countries of the world. According to the Future Marketing Insight projections for 5G technology, the market size of 5G is expected to cross $248.46 billion by 2028 from just $608 million in 2018. The growth of this technology is estimated at about 82.4% CAGR during 2018 and 2028. It will be one of the top technology trends in 2020 across the world. The impact of this technology will be high on different industries, businesses, and lifestyles.

Trend #5 Virtual Reality & Wearable Devices

Wearable devices powered by the virtual reality and augmented reality (AR/VR) software development is setting new trends in entertainment, gaming, and TV industries. The number of wearable devices shipped across the globe is increasing continuously. It is expected to grow the shipment of wearable devices in 2020 significantly. It will maintain its status of top tech trend in 2020.

Impact of Disruptive Tech Trends on Business Efficiency

The impact of disruptive technology trends on businesses is significantly big. As we know, the present day business market is so competitive and very fast-paced. The technology-oriented businesses are highly prone to the changes in the technology to even survive in the industry. The user experience is one of the most significant components of modern businesses. The customers have become so demanding and so aggressive that any little deficiency in the service or product can cost a business hugely.

The entire range of the above disruptive tech trends improves the speed, reliability, security, and productivity of the businesses. Creating a great user experience is the top objective that can be achieved by using modern technologies.

Final Takeaway

The landscape of technology is changing rapidly and consistently. Almost all tech trends are influenced by the ICT changes in the present day world. The top expected technology trends in 2020 may include blockchain, internet of things (IoT), AI-powered development, 5G technology, and wearable devices. The growth forecasts of all these technologies clearly declare them to remain as top tech trends in 2020.

The Harmful Impacts of IT Downtime

The infographic below from ers IT Solutions confirms something all technology contractors already know — IT downtime can be an expensive disaster for clients. As you scroll down the page, you may be shocked at just what kind of impact companies experience, why these downtimes happen and even how frequently.

Truly understanding this infographic and having empathy for a client during these times might be a game-changer for your reputation and your career. A couple years ago, we shared a post with some tips on leading your client through a technology crisis. It reminds us that even when the cause had nothing to do with your work, clients will remember the IT professional who can react properly and help them through a disastrous time.

The Harmful Impacts of IT Downtime

Canadian Technologies That Contribute to Global Innovation

Happy Canada Day to all Canadians, near and far, on paper and in spirit! Today is a day to celebrate what makes our country so great, including the innovations that contribute to Canada’s success on the global stage.

A couple years ago, in celebration of Canada’s 150th, BellMTS put together this infographic displaying the technologies and inventions by Canadians that made a lasting impact. We’ve always known Canadians are awesome, but you may be surprised at just how many technologies Canadians have contributed to.

So, when you are looking at the fireworks tonight in awe and amazement, think about all 150 years of Canadian innovation.

Canadian Technologies That Contribute to Global Innovation

How to Clean Your Dirty Headphones

Are you travelling this weekend? Will you be listening to music or watching videos to kill some time during the commute? You should probably check your headphones before taking off. Over time, grime and earwax can get stuck in your headphones, causing muffled sound and damaging your device that might have cost you a lot of money

Before you take your headphones into the bath or scrub them under the garden hose, we recommend watching this quick video from CTV News. It explains the proper way to clean your headphones so that they stay in good condition and ultimately last longer.

Be the Hero Through a Technology Crisis

Sometimes, things go horribly, horribly wrong. We’re not talking “running out of Nutella” wrong or “my keyboard only types É instead of ?” kind of wrong. This post is about the type of crisis where a bug or error causes so much panic within the organization that productivity freezes, clients can’t be served and people start describing it the worse disaster in the company’s history.

When crisis strikes, you can either freeze and contribute nothing or work with the team to bring everything back on track as quickly as possible. Depending on your position, it may be up to you to lead that team through the crisis. Are you up for the task? If not, have a look at this quick video with some tips for getting through the turmoil (we recommend looking now, rather than waiting until disaster strikes). Take these ideas and understand your own strengths and weaknesses, then develop a plan to ensure you’re ready to step up and be the hero.

Technology Trends from the 2019 Stack Overflow Developer Survey

Every year, Stack Overflow surveys tens of thousands of developers around the world to understand how they work, what technologies they use and some other fun facts. The complete report is packed with overwhelming amounts of data that offers something for everybody.

Blockchain is one tech trend the world loves to follow these days and Stack Overflow asked developers their opinions on it. The technology has been making headlines for the last few years but still not necessarily finding its place in the mainstream. The results saw that 80% of organizations are not using Blockchain at all and developers have mixed reviews on how it can be used in the future. Sure, two-thirds of the respondents said Blockchain can be useful in various aspects, but 16.8% say it is a passing fad and 15.6% believe that Blockchain is an irresponsible use of resources.

Expectedly, as they do every year, Stack Overflow used the opportunity to learn about the most popular, loved, hated and wanted technologies. The charts are long and filled with data, so we summarized the findings in the tables below:

Programming, Scripting and Markup Languages
It’s no surprise that JavaScript continues to rank at the top of the list of most popular languages and Stack Overflow pointed out that Python continues to be the fastest growing language — also no surprise. If you want to get paid more, it’s clear that you’re going to have to work with some of the less popular languages. The good news is there are a few languages in the “Most Loved” column and only one in the “Most Dreaded” column (sorry Erlang).
Web Frameworks
For the first time this year, Stack Overflow asked about frameworks for the web separately from other frameworks and libraries. jQuery is the most broadly used. It’s also interesting to note that the results in the tables only represent responses by professional developers and when all developers were surveyed, React.js actually ranked higher than Angular.js in popularity.
Other Frameworks, Libraries and Tools
Although they didn’t make the top 5, more developers did say they use the deep learning framework TensorFlow more than Torch/PyTorch. Interestingly, Torch/PyTorch is more loved than TensorFlow, but TensorFlow is one of the “Most Wanted” (developers who do not yet use it but say they want to learn it).
Databases
As expected, MySQL remains the most popular database used among developers and, for the third year in a row, Redis took the top spot in the Most Loved category and MongoDB clinched #1 in Most Wanted.
Platforms
New this year, Stack Overflow asked developers about container technologies and Docker turned out to be the third most broadly used platform, second most loved and first most wanted.
Developer Environments
When it comes to Developer environments, it’s clear that Visual Studio Code takes the cake, specifically among Web Developers, DevOps and SREs. It ranks the second most popular among Mobile Developers, who are slightly more likely to choose Android Studio.

The survey report contains loads more information around technology trends and predictions by developers. Some are obvious (more developers use Windows as their primary operating systems), some facts are fun but useless (30% believe Elon Musk will be this year’s most influential person in tech) and some are super detailed (you can dive much deeper into the stats summarized in the tables above). If you’re interested or have some extra time, check out the complete report to see all of the data for yourself.

Designing Technology for the Aging Population

For years the relationship between seniors and technology has garnered a bad reputation where seniors are labelled as “unwilling to learn” or consistently use “The Google” when asking a younger friend/family member to help them find something. And while there may be a small nugget of truth to that fact, the statistics and scenarios where this occurs are beginning to dwindle in the reality of many IT Contractors. The problem now is designing technology that is meant for this age group (i.e. bigger fonts, simpler platforms, etc.). If you’re wondering what some examples of these technologies could be, how they were made, or even want to see the online program, here is an infographic by USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology to get you started!

https://gerontology.usc.edu/resources/infographics/designing-technology-for-the-aging-population/