IT Industry News for May 2019

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

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

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

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

A Little History of previous year’s Aprils …

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

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

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

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

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

Which brings us back to the present …

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

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

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

Do You Have Questions? Here’s How to Get Answers Directly from Eagle’s Recruiters

Do You Have Questions? Here's How to Get Answers Directly from Eagle's RecruitersIt’s an AMA, Talent Development Centre style! We often see comments across social media or hear from IT contractors directly who have a variety of questions. So, for today’s special post, we’re asking our readers what they want to know from Eagle’s recruiters.

Are there specific job search tips you’d like to hear? Do you want to learn more about hiring processes at staffing agencies? Would you like to know what’s happening inside a recruiter’s head at any given time? Whatever the question, we want to answer it.

Leave your question in the comments section of this post below. We’ll collect all of them and send them off to Eagle’s most experienced recruiters. Then watch the Talent Development Centre and we’ll share the answers at the end of the month.

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.

Jaw-Dropping Data Breach Stats for 2019

Data breaches are detrimental to a company. Setting aside the reputation damage that comes with them, the harm done to customers plus the impending legal battles that follow have cost millions and sometimes billions of dollars for organizations that were presumed to be secure. In today’s world where hacking is a sport with a lucrative pay-out, cybersecurity experts are in high demand.

Varonis recently sourced a list of 56 data breach statistics, including risks, costs and prevention tips. Along with the list came this infographic that highlights the most interesting and helpful stats. Have a look for some eye-opening facts that will make you think twice the next time you’re entering personal information into a field.

Why are Apple Products So Expensive?

Apple is one of the world’s most valuable companies, and rightfully so. Their reputation for leading the way through innovation, top-notch service and quality products has earned them a spot as a premium technology supplier. Furthermore, it’s gained the company a loyal following of users who love Apple so much, they’re willing to pay what some refer to as the “Apple Tax”.

As much as we can’t argue Apple’s success, we also can’t ignore the fact their products are priced significantly higher than many of their competitors in the industry. Why is this the case? Is it simple marketing taking advantage of people’s desire to be cool or are there more justified reasons? Is the current strategy sustainable? For those answers and more, check out this video from CNBC International that explores Apple’s history, its products and its pricing strategy.

If You Don’t Upload a Resume, Nobody’s Going to Call You

The title of this post seems like an obvious statement, but we’re shocked at the amount of candidates who apply for jobs without uploading a resume for recruiters to evaluate. Or, they do upload a resume but it lacks the detail required to determine if a candidate is qualified for a job.

Why You Must Submit a Quality Resume to Recruiters If You Want a Job

If You Don't Upload a Resume, Nobody's Going to Call YouThe days of having one copy of a brief, generic resume and submitting it to every company are long gone (assuming they were ever here). In the last 20 years, online job boards have changed the entire game of job searching and resume writing. Yet some people, aside from embracing online tools, are still playing the game like it’s the ’90s.

As job boards continue to focus on candidate experience and make the application process easy for you, keep in mind, they’re making it easier for every job seeker. When it’s easier, more people apply. When more people apply, recruiters are receiving more applications. When recruiters have more options, they ignore bad resumes, and they especially ignore the candidates who don’t submit one at all. Just because you wrote a compelling cover letter, a recruiter is not going to call you for more information. It all must be available to them right away. Anything less gives a perception of laziness, apathy, and just not caring.

This, of course, is assuming a recruiter even finds you. Automated applicant tracking solutions, complete with artificial intelligence, are increasingly more affordable and accessible to companies of all sizes. Even the smallest staffing agencies and employers are taking advantage of these screening tools, ensuring that busy recruiters and hiring managers only review resumes that a computer deemed valuable. When your resume does not include enough details and explanations about your experience, it will fail to pass a preliminary screening and sit in a database never to be seen again.

Furthermore, low-detailed resumes are often the reason you keep getting phone calls from recruiters for jobs that do not match your skillset. If you barely put in details explaining what you do, when your name does appear in a recruiter’s search, it will be for job opportunities irrelevant to your actual experience and job role.

A link to a public profile is also a great compliment to an uploaded resume, particularly when a resume is dated as it allows a recruiter to find more recent experience. However, as a stand-alone, the information detailed in the link will not be uploaded to a database and the chances of getting found for a particular position are significantly decreased.

We Understand, Badly Uploaded Resumes Are Not Always Your Fault

Yes, there are a few lazy IT professionals out there who are submitting useless resumes, and most independent contractors do put hours of work into their resume. So why do recruiters still complain about too many bad resumes being submitted?

In some circumstances, an applicant wants to apply to a job when it is posted, but because they’re on a phone, tablet or the wrong computer, the right resume was not available. In other cases, an error occurred that you were not aware of. Some resume formats are not readable by automated resume screeners and other times, though much less frequently, technology does what it does best and a glitch prevents your resume from being submitted properly.

How Can You Guarantee Your Detailed Resume is Submitted and Reviewed by a Recruiter?

First, double-check to ensure it is actually as detailed as you need it to be. The old rule of keeping a resume under two-pages is less significant today. Computers can read hundreds of pages in seconds, so if you need to add a few to ensure your experience is clearly explained, go ahead and do it.

Next, keep your resume in a simple format. That means Microsoft Word (even PDFs can cause headaches) and skip out on the fancy fixings. Tables, text boxes, images and locking can all prevent an automated resume screener from interpreting your content.

Finally, be patient at the fact technology has its downfalls. Return to your online profile to double-check that your resume was uploaded how you want it to be. If a recruiter does contact you for a copy of your resume, accept that there may have been an error, and politely email them the version you uploaded, including any updates they request.

Your resume is your number one selling tool as an independent contractor, and that cannot be understated. Automated resume screeners, artificial intelligence and other technologies (including their errors) are reality and that cannot be ignored either. Embracing these facts are a crucial first step in successful job applications.

Why Software Projects Fail (and what you can do about it)

Why Software Projects Fail (and what you can do about it)IT professionals, project managers and software developers accept that failure is a natural part of innovation. In fact, a survey published a couple years ago by Geneca found that 75% of software projects will fail. That’s a high number!

While accepting failure is a natural part of a successful IT organization’s culture, leaders also have to be aware that some failure is preventable and comes with high costs. This is one reason they hire IT contractors — experts in their field that should minimize the risk on a project. As great as that is for your ability to hike your rate a bit, it also puts more pressure on you.

Thomas Smale, founder of FE International, recently published an article for Entrepreneur that discusses 6 common reasons a software project fails. Have a look to see if there are any ideas you can bring back to your client next time you’re called in to help make a project successful:

  1. Insufficient time to complete the project
    This is usually caused by companies having unrealistic and arbitrary deadlines because they’re in a rush to get the project completed. It is suggested to do enough planning upfront that will give developers all of the scope and parameters to work most efficiently.
  2. Inadequate planning
    Speaking of planning, that’s the second overall reason projects fail according to Smale. Lack of time, staff, resources and budget all can cause things to go wrong. He recommends senior management stay involved from start to finish so if inevitable change happens during the project, sign-off is quick, informed, and easy.
  3. Unclear project requirements
    Again, planning becomes a keyword, but this time, enough upfront conversation among all users so developers have a clear understanding about what they need to do.
  4. Too many people assigned to the project
    Logically, more help should speed things up, but Smale cautions that it can result in failure. On top of higher costs, there are more opportunities for misunderstandings, unclear communications, or inconsistent code.
  5. Lack of testing
    As time starts to slip (usually due to lack of planning), testing can be the first casualty, resulting in broken features, crashes or security breaches. It is instead suggested to test each component as it is completed throughout the entire development lifecycle.
  6. Failure to find a good project manager
    If you’re Project Manager, you have probably have experience entering into a broken project. This may be due to an incompetent consultant or because the company assigned the task to an internal person without the experience. It’s important to recognize the early signs of poor project management so it can be rectified before the project goes completely sideways.

As you read through the 6 points above, it should come as no surprise to you that failure to plan is a root cause of many software project disasters. Therefore, understanding a client’s plan (or if they have one at all) is always encouraged before a project begins and a quality question to ask your recruiter. What kind of software project failures have you seen?

A Visual Approach to Setting SMART Goals

How frequently do you set goals? Monthly, quarterly, annually… ever? Setting goals is the first step to moving forward, getting to where you want to be, and ensuring you are not stuck in a rut. At the start of 2018, Crystal Nicol provided some tips to set goals and boost your career. Towards the end of the year, Alison Turnbull echoed her advice and advocated reflecting on the previous months to set more goals for 2019.

In both cases, the authors referenced SMART goals and how following that method will increase the likelihood your goals get accomplished. For those of you who are visual learners, we found this infographic put together by Professional Academy. Between its visuals, explanations and examples, you’re certain to walk away with some clear goals to advance your career!

A Visual Approach to Setting SMART Goals

15 Shortcuts that Will Change the Way You Work

Operating systems regularly blow our minds with their bugs and inefficiencies. Windows and yes, OS X too, have subtle annoyances built into them that make advanced users shake their head. Wouldn’t it be nice if for once you could have your mind-blown in a good way? This Brightside video is sure to do just that.

All operating systems have hotkeys and shortcuts built into them and we rarely use them all to their fullest potential. This video shows us examples of how you can be more efficient while working on either your PC or your Mac. Check it out. You will learn something.

The Connections Between Gaming and IT Contracting

Since the original Atari hit living rooms more than 40 years ago, gaming has been a way-of-life for millions of people around the world. While at one-point video games were known as time-wasters for youth and burn-outs, modern games have transformed far beyond the 8-world adventure that was Super Mario Bros. Today, people of all ages from all backgrounds game and there are proven benefits for young people as they develop and adults as they build careers.

The Critical Skills Youth Can Build from Video Games

The Connections Between Gaming and IT ContractingA recent Globe & Mail article highlights a study by a University of British Columbia economist, Nicole Fortin, that found a correlation between video games and higher math scores among teenagers. Fortin saw that video games are not only a strong predictor of future careers in finance, computer science or STEM (areas forecast to dominate the job market), but they also benefit students with attention deficit issues. In a separate Psychology Today article, Peter Gray, ph.D, agreed there are career and personal benefits to young people playing video games — cognitively, creatively, motivationally, emotionally and socially.

The rising popularity in video games has also given way for the eSports trend. In the same way that schools and recreational groups have competitive sports teams, many implemented eSports teams for kids to compete in video games, and it’s a huge thing! According to Teched Up Teacher, nearly 500 colleges in the United States support eSports at the club level and, even in Montreal, a high school launched a specialized eSports program streamed specifically for aspiring pro-gamers.

Students benefit from eSports for all the same reasons they gain a brighter future participating in sports and other extracurricular activities. The game skills themselves are just a small piece, as they also build team, social, emotional, and time management skills. Even those not playing the game participate by managing social media, casting games, and overseeing the team’s Twitch account.

How Video Games Can Help Your IT Career Today

The benefits of gaming extend beyond building skills of our future leaders. In fact, plenty of research and experiences point to IT professionals’ careers advancing as a result of this hobby. Dev.to published an article this past January with compelling arguments for a number of skills that can be improved through gaming. The nature of the most popular games requires one to communicate with people around the world, work together, and solve problems as a team, all while under pressure. This results in improved soft skills like communication, leadership, alertness, decision-making, stress management, and strategy.

So, bragging about your gaming hobby might just be something that progressive recruiters will find attractive. A study at Missouri University of Science and Technology looked specifically at World of Warcraft gamers and discovered they share improved traits of extroversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism. Furthermore, gamers are more likely to have computer-mediated communication skills and technology-readiness skills. Essentially, the study found that the more achievements you have unlocked in a game, the more technology savvy you are in real life.

There continues to be different views on whether or not gaming truly does improve the skills of an IT professional or if being a gamer is a sign of a skilled worker. Just read through this extensive Quora discussion, which is filled with mixed opinions. Some IT hiring managers say they specifically look for gaming in an applicant’s profile, where other very skilled developers believe it to be a complete waste of time.

Are you a gamer? If so, do you believe it helps in your career and builds the skills needed to serve your clients? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave them in the comments below.