IT Industry News for July 2017

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

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on August 16th, 2017

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the Tech industry for July 2017. What you see here is a précis of the monthly report I produce, which will be available in more detail at the News section of the Eagle website, where you will also find back issues.

A Little History of July in previous years 

Five 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.

Cisco logoJuly 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.

Twitter logoJuly 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.

IBM 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 is buying 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.

Oracle logo a large software company originally noted for its databaseJuly 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.

Which brings us back to the present …

Mitel LogoIn July 2017, Cincinnati Bell Inc. is buying Hawaiian Telcom Holdco Inc. for $650 million and OnX for $201 million. Mitel announced its acquisition of ShoreTel for $430 million as well as Toshiba’s unified communications business. In Toronto, digital signage solution provider, Dot2Dot, acquired Pixel Point Digital. PNI Canada Acuireco Corp. has purchased Sandvine Corp. for $562 million and plans to merge Sandvine with Procera Networks.

Reports indicate Microsoft plans to cut up to 3,000 jobs while streaming platform, SoundCloud has laid of 40% of its employees, and data storage provider, Seagate, plans more staff cuts due to weak financial performance.

According to threat intelligence provider, Risk Based Security, the number of publicly-reported data breaches in Canada this year is up to 59. In a study conducted by Forrester Data it is projected there will be 5.5 billion smartphone users around the world by 2020. In other news, there has been a recent increase in investments in European startups according to Invest Europe.

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 2017 industry news in just about a month’s time, until then … walk fast and smile!

Contractor Quick Poll: Leadership Skills for Contractors

Leadership is a widely studied topic and a scroll through your LinkedIn feed will prove that it’s discussed by nearly everyone. While some would argue it’s over-talked about, others would argue it can’t be spoken of enough.

While this post isn’t going to argue whether or not we need more leadership articles, we are curious to know how relevant they are to IT contractors. Specifically, does it play a part in your everyday work? This month’s contractor quick poll asks independent contractors how often they require leadership skills to succeed.

Preparing for a Successful Client Interview

Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

Preparing for a Successful Client InterviewGot an interview coming up with a client?  It should be a piece of cake, especially if you are a professional contractor.  Most contractors go on 5-6 interviews a year, so it should be a breeze and just a little prep should be needed, right?  Think again!!!   Preparing for a contract interview should be taken with as much care as preparing for a full-time interview.  Although the client will often ask similar questions, the contract interview tends to happen at a much quicker pace and as such, it is important for a contractor to relay their skills and value proposition to the prospective client in the first interview (often…the only interview).  A complaint I am hearing from clients recently is that contractors are showing up to interviews unprepared and sometimes even uninterested.

If a contractor is working with an agency to secure their next contract, the agency should be able to provide you with details about the role, why it is open and who the interviewers are.

Preparing for an interview for a contract role goes beyond knowing about the project and the client.  It is being able to clearly demonstrate your value proposition to the client and why you would be the best person for the role.  In order to do this, candidates must really know what they have put down on their resume and what value past experience will have to the potential client and the project.

Clients tend to focus on the following when interviewing contract candidates:

  • Provide examples of where your past project experience is similar to the upcoming project – What value can you bring to the project? Any lessons learned?
  • Describe the project in detail. A common complaint from clients is that contractors often skim project details. This gives the client the impression that the contractor does not know the work they had done and also gives the impression that some the details found on the resume were fabricated (i.e. you did not actually do the work and added in key words into your resume in order to be selected for an interview). Project details that clients are most interested in are:  role in the project, size of the project team, stakeholders who were involved, technologies used, value of the project, what stage you entered the project and was the project implemented on time/budget.
  • What type of style do you have in relaying the information. It is critical that when recapping projects to a client that you know all the details and can relay them with ease (and not struggling to remember).  Not being able to recall past projects is a potential sign that the project was not important or again, the project was embellished on the resume.
  • Be professional when speaking about past projects. We have all worked on a project that has not gone well.  When speaking about the project, focus on your role and the skills you brought to the project.  Clients will select a candidate who is more positive about past experience, rather than dwelling on the negative sides of a project.
  • Ask questions about the current project. Go prepared with a copy of the role description and show interest in the role.  Clients have sometimes chosen a less qualified candidate as they showed more interest in the project than someone who came across as less “excited” – ie. “been there, done that”.

Just like past employment/projects follow a candidate, especially in a small market, so do bad interviews.  Clients will pass along information to other potential hiring managers within their organization about contractors who have come in for an interview along with their biases.  It is really important to keep in mind that when interviewing with any organization, especially large ones that hire many contractors such as the Banks and Telcos, to always be prepared and to leave a positive experience with the interviews.

Building Relationships with People More Senior Than You

Building Relationships with People More Senior Than YouBuilding a relationship with any colleague can be challenging, especially if you don’t immediately click. Even more challenging can be building a relationship with somebody more senior than you. There are many different scenarios that this may come about, and we scoured the internet to ease you through three of them: Getting to know a new boss, building a relationship with a CIO, and managing people who are more senior than you.

Getting to Know Your New Boss

Having a positive relationship with a new boss is crucial for a successful contract.  This HBR article provides some helpful advice on dealing with a new boss coming into an organization that you’re already at:

  • Look for Common Ground: Try to find out who they are and what interests them before even meeting, using tools like LinkedIn.
  • Have some Empathy: Remember that they’re under a lot of pressure and, as much as they’d like to, getting to know you right away may not be possible. Give them space and it will be appreciated.
  • Don’t Lay it on Too Thick — or Too Thin: Good managers can spot a suck-up or political operator from a mile away, so don’t even bother.
  • Ask About Their Communication Style: Knowing how they like to receive communications and make decisions will prevent misunderstandings and help get work done faster.
  • Help Them Achieve Early Wins: Show you’re a team player by helping them get some wins.

Building a Relationship with a CIO

What about somebody who isn’t necessarily your boss, but the most senior in the organization. A recent Dice article provided 4 tips for building a relationship with a CIO which is a great start for building relationships with any C-level executive. Here’s a brief summary:

  • Have something to Say: Tech leaders are often looking for feedback and want to know those under them are thinking strategically.
  • Don’t complain without a solution: Refrain from armchair quarterbacking. If you don’t have a good solution, don’t bother the CIO with your complaints.
  • Keep Customers Happy: According to the article, “technology executives are paying increasing attention to how their department is perceived by end users inside and outside the company.”
  • IT is About More Than Tech: Show that you also bring business knowledge and soft skills to the table.

Managing Tech Pros with More Experience

It’s one thing to build a relationship with a senior technology professional who is above you in the hierarchy, but there are also times you need to manage people who have more experience than you. This provides more challenges. This Dice article helps with that task with these 3 simple tips:

  • Get Off on the Right Foot: Avoid throwing yourself at the team and barking orders, and watch out for “unintentional ego clipping.”
  • Ask for Advice: Older employees like to know that they are being consulted. Understand how the team works and don’t make any assumptions that can lead to a bad decision.
  • Share Knowledge and Context: Share knowledge with them so everybody can learn, and keep the in the loop to give context when things must change.

As a senior professional, these situations may seem simple and obvious; however, they can stress out junior IT professionals new to the work world. What additional advice would you give to them on this topic?

Add More Productivity to Your Second Half of Summer

Now that we’re more than half way through the summer, we have a tendency to slow down and it might be time to think about some ways to improve your productivity. Making some small simple changes to your everyday tasks can make a big difference in your efficiency. It can be as easy as getting some extra hours of sleep, or even having a change in attitude.

This infographic from Social Caffeine, gives us some tips and tricks to keep us productive in both the office, as well as, our personal lives. Keep up with your daily tasks by keeping your days organized and productive!


Courtesy of: Social Caffeine

Everything You Need to Know About 5G

With the quick rise in technology users worldwide, the current 4G networks have just about reached their limit. Holding a lot of promise is the next generation of wireless networks, 5G. We posted in early June about how 5G will change your life because this next generation will allow for much faster data speeds, and will be able to handle much more traffic.

In this video, IEE Spectrum gives us some insight on the five new technologies that are working together as the foundation of the upcoming 5G networks. There is still a lot of work needing to be done since 5G is currently still in the early planning stages. No one knows exactly what 5G is or what it will become of it as of yet, however, if everything goes according to plan you should be using 5G in the next 5 years!

If You Can’t Sleep Enough, At Least Sleep Better

Sleep is a crucial component of our everyday lives as it has an impact on our health, cognitive, and physical functions. Not getting enough sleep can affect these functions leaving us much more prone to illness with slower cognitive processing and poor physical performance.

Now, do we all get enough sleep every night? Probably not, however, there are things we can do to increase the quality our sleep. This video from Med School Insiders gets into the science of sleep, and gives us some tips to get the most of our sleep to wake up feeling more energetic. Start feeling refreshed instead of drained after sleeping, and learn some interesting new ways to get energy boosts during your day.

Tips on Achieving Inbox Zero

This post by Karin Eldor was originally published on the Monster Career Advice Blog.

Tips on Achieving Inbox ZeroWhen was the last time you reached the elusive “0” in your inbox? No emails left to read or reply to. A fully clean slate. Or wait a minute: have you ever reached that goal? And should you even care? Besides, once you clear your inbox, it can take a few minutes for it to fill up again!

One thing we can all agree upon: our perception of productivity has become defined by how many emails we have replied to vs. how many are left in our inbox. But if the reason you have a lot of emails left is because you were busy actively creating strategies and having a thoughtful workday, then does the size of your inbox even matter?

Truth be told, there’s a feeling of accomplishment tied to clearing your inbox at the end of the day. And of course, there are tools to help achieve that.

Enter the “Inbox Zero” phenomenon.

The Buzz Behind Inbox Zero

The term and philosophy of Inbox Zero was originally coined by Merlin Mann, the founder and writer of 43 Folders, a blog about “finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.” Contrary to popular belief, the “Zero” doesn’t refer to obsessively keeping your inbox empty at all times. Instead, it refers to “the amount of time an employee’s brain is in his inbox.”

Email is harming our ability to do smart work — although it keeps us very busy. It’s hindering our productivity and it places the control of how you spend your workday in someone else’s hands as you’re in a constant reactive state. Some people even get anxious while opening their email, anticipating the unread messages lying there.

Psychologist and author of The Best Place To Work, Ron Friedman says: “The reason it can feel overwhelming to find lots of emails in your work inbox is that each message represents another demand on your time and another decision you have to make. Even deciphering a generic announcement about the office coffee maker requires effort, which leaves less energy for work that matters.”

True that.

How to Achieve Inbox Zero

Schedule email times & be militant about it

Keep your email program closed for most of the day, except during the designated times you set aside for it. A popular system applied by businesspeople is checking and responding three times per day. And if it helps, tell people so in your signature or in a scheduled auto-response, if you can (this is a famous tip from productivity guru Tim Ferriss, author of: The 4-Hour Workweek). This is a great way to manage others’ expectations and an efficient way to ensure you are giving your current tasks or meetings your full attention.

Touch It Once!

Don’t get into the habit of opening your email between meetings, reading some messages and then letting them sit idle in your inbox. Read and reply if you can, or if an email does require more thought or strategic action, file it away in a properly labeled folder.

This can be better explained in the following system:

Delete, Delegate, Respond, Defer, or Do

According to Merlin Mann, follow the principle of Delete, Delegate, Respond, Defer, or Do, when processing mail.

Here’s how it goes:

  • If it isn’t important, delete it right away;
  • If it isn’t an item you need to handle yourself, delegate it.
  • If it’s a task you can complete in two minutes or less, do it (send a reply, file the message, make a phone call, etc.).
  • If you need to handle it, but reading the message and completing the task will take you longer than two minutes, defer it.

Create Clearly Labeled Subfolders

Use folders and labels to stay organized and help you prioritize when deferring. Here’s an easy system to use:

  • Needs action or reply
  • Awaiting reply
  • To read
  • Important info (includes all those emails that have important info to reference but don’t require a follow-up task from you)

Get unlisted

Unsubscribe from marketing emails that don’t bring you joy or add value.

Use plugins

If you’re using Gmail, then plug-ins like Streak or Boomerang can help you manage your inbox and schedule emails (they have free versions for basic needs!). Streak helps you set up templated replies that you can use for contacts in specific groups and sets certain emails to resurface at a later date as reminders, so you don’t need to worry about them. Boomerang helps you schedule emails, so if you’re replying to a batch of emails, you can schedule certain replies to go at different times (i.e. in the morning of the next day vs. at 5pm that same day, when you’re actually writing the reply).

Don’t answer every email

This can be hugely liberating. If something is simply not a priority at the moment, archive it and move on. Don’t waste your brainpower. However, use your gut; you know who and what is priority, so assess accordingly!

Become An Email Master

In your quest to clean up your inbox and avoid the constant “Sorry for the delayed reply!” message, use the tips that make most sense to you. Hopefully they will help clear the clutter and help you take control of all incoming email, rather than letting those messages take control of you!

How to Make Ethernet Cable

In the past, if you wished to install an Ethernet cable in your office or home you would have needed to contact a network engineer. Even though Ethernet cables may seem complicated due to the many wires forming its structure, it is now possible for just about anyone to easily create their own patch cables.

In this infographic, 1000 Ft Cables provides a step-by-step guide that shows you exactly how to build your own Ethernet cable. They also answer any questions you may have regarding the measurements, crimping, or the general structure of an Ethernet cable. Learn how to build your own patch cables today!

How to Make Ethernet Cable

How Linux is Built

Linux is one of the top operating systems used today, and you use it more than you may realize. Android phones, Smart TVs, super computers, social networks and the majority of financial trades are all powered by Linux. Even more interesting, Linux is considered the largest collaborative development projects in the history of computing!

Depending on your specialty in IT, you may already know about Linux and everything this video from The Linux Foundation is talking about. If you’re new to the topic and want to know more, this video is a great start. Have more questions? Leave them in the comments below so our readers who are experts at Linux can help you out.