April 16th, 2014

The Challenges of Leadership

Drucker quote on leadership

As a leader how do you handle the major challenges that you face day in and day out?

The typical challenges we face are relatively predictable…

1. There are financial challenges. Meeting the company targets, selling enough business, managing costs etc.

2. There are people challenges … finding and retaining talent, dealing with personnel issues, training and investment in staff.

3. There are operational challenges … technology, product innovation, process refinements etc.

“Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.”  Brian Tracy

Some leaders will allow issues to fester … hoping they will go away. Of course we know they never will. I call this the “head in the sand” management method or the “hope and a prayer” management method.

There are leaders who will read the latest book and magically it has all the answers … although rarely is it as simple as it seems when reading the book. I call this the “Book Learning” management style.

There are leaders who will understand the problem but really have no good idea what to do about it. One of their approaches will be to push their people to work harder … but doing “more” of the same things just tends to make the problem worse. I call this the “Beat the Staff” management method.

There are leaders who always seem to get a new idea and are always trying the latest thing. I call this “Management by Theory“.

I think we have all seen various incarnations of these management styles, sometimes from the same person!

Great leaders will get input from their teams to truly understand the problems.

They will be willing to try new ideas, but they won’t necessarily “throw the baby out with the bathwater”. This may mean piloting ideas; it might mean iterative change rather than mass change.

They will embrace change because only through change do we get better.

They will worry… but they will ACT to fix their problems, NOT hope those problems will go away.

Great leaders view their problems as challenges to overcome and not millstones around their neck. They will find a way to solve their challenges and will feel good about their success.

They know that working smart is better than just working hard… but working hard AND smart will win the prize!

They are decisive but not impulsive.

They are collaborative but willing to take the lead.

They will recognise risk, mitigate it as much as possible but know they need to act!

We all want to be great leaders, but great leaders never stop learning and never stop growing… so great today is not good enough! You need to STILL be great tomorrow!

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”  Jim Rohn

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
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April 15th, 2014

Think Like An Owner When Travelling For Business

business woman at an airportIf a manager can emulate a business owner’s approach to business travel then they will be sending a clear and positive message to their executive about their attitude.

Here are some of the things I do, and have always done when I travel:

1.  I apply a common sense approach to business travel, I know it is necessary and helps me to grow my business … however each and every trip needs to be evaluated on its need and on maximising the return on that investment.  Trips are expensive, each trip should be justified.

2.  Travel takes me away from my regular routine, and therefore I try to maximise my use of time while still staying on top of my regular commitments.  Here are some of the ways I do that:

  • I will try to maximise my workday in the time zone I am visiting.  When I travel from Toronto to Calgary I will get as early a flight as possible, allowing me to land and be in the office as early as possible in the Calgary business day.
  • When I leave to go back to Toronto I try to catch as late a flight as possible to ensure I have as much working time in the Calgary office as possible.  It means long days, early trips to the airport and late arrivals home … but my trip is as full of available time as possible.
  • Before leaving home, and before leaving the office to return home, I will load up on some “readable” items for on the plane.  I can sometimes save up work for a few days and schedule to complete it on the plane.

You always know the right thing. The hard part is doing it.3.  I am also cognisant of the costs of travel and try to minimise them where possible.  Here are some of the ways I do that:

  • I never travel business class for work.
  • I will try to book ahead and take advantage of special deals on airfares.  I will also shop around between airlines, taking the cheapest flight rather than sticking with one airline so I can build my points/status.
  • I will also shop for hotels and take the best deals, never staying in the big name, big price places.  I use memberships (CPSA) to get good rates, or will use Hotwire and other services to make sure I get a good rate.
  • I don’t eat at fancy restaurants as a general rule, but will entertain clients in appropriate manner whenever possible!

4.  Travelling to another location should be all about them!

  • I try to keep my regular activities to a minimum.
  • I like to spend time with the management and staff at the other offices.
  • I love to get out with clients when I can.

Obviously there are times when things do not fall into place, but as a general rule I can maximise the effectiveness of my visits and minimise the costs of my visit by using the above guidelines.

Over the years there have been funny stories that I get to tell about some of the seedier hotels/motels I have found myself in and the airport experiences that I have had.  I guess that is a side benefit of my frugality … I get to tell some good war stories!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
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April 14th, 2014

Take Your Career Opportunities!

Disraeli about being prepared for opportunityLife offers us opportunities all the time … the trick is

(a) Spotting them, and

(b) Taking advantage of them.

When you are new to a company, new in a role or just looking to move up the ladder you will be presented with opportunities to shine, either through the normal course of business or better yet because you made it happen!

Here are some thoughts for you …

1.  If you get the chance to chat with someone influential be prepared to have a meaningful conversation?

  • Do you have something interesting to tell?
  • Can you ask interesting questions and stimulate conversation?
  • Are you actually prepared for the opportunity … or are you going to wing it?
  • Do you know what messages you want to get across, and how best to present them?

2.  You might get to attend a company function, a charity event or some other “social work” setting.

  • Do you know how to behave?
  • Do you understand etiquette and manners?
  • Do you know who will be there … and what you might say to them?
  • Are you treating it like an opportunity to shine, or an opportunity for company sponsored booze?

3.  You may find yourself in large networking events.

  • Do some research … who will be there, what the event is all about, some history, the organisers etc.
  • Learn how to network … there are many sources that offer advice and some training.

4.  At any time in your career you may find yourself with opportunity.

  • Remember the basics.
  • Do NOT just play it on instincts.
  • Be prepared.
  • Put your best foot forward.

Never assume … that you know it all, that you have the experience and that your past experiences have prepared you for this moment!  You might just let the moment slip through your grasp for lack of a little preparation.

Some of the dangers lurking in the shadows of your career aspirations …

1.  People’s opinion of you can be colored, good or bad, very quickly.

2.  One small indiscretion can cause the red flags to go up, meaning that you now have a hurdle to overcome.

3.  A favorable impression on the right person can go a long way.

4.  Some of the classic moments that will  not help your career:

  • Getting drunk at a company function … social or not;
  • Speaking from the hip … possibly because of too many drinks.  Nothing wrong with a little honesty, but always be cognizant of who you are talking with.
  • Not being prepared for a meeting.
  • Being given an opportunity to present ideas/concepts/opportunities and focusing on negatives not solutions.
  • Talking too much.
  • Not listening enough.
  • Ignoring the normal etiquette of a situation.

All of the above could have been opportunities to impress, to make a positive mark on your career … don’t miss your opportunities!

“I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn’t been prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn’t have been lucky.”     Oprah Winfrey

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?

April 10th, 2014

10 Ways to Make It A “Feel Good” Day

Generosity quote

We live our lives every day dealing with the normal pressures of life. We build routines and focus on the things we need to do, and some of the things we would like to do. Every now and again it is a good idea to focus on others, to give, with no expectation of getting anything back. I call that type of day a “feel good” day, because invariably it feels good to do something for others. Which begs the question … how come we don’t do it more often?

There are many things that we can do to create a “feel good” day?

Here are 10 ideas for you … and they actually work on any day, so you could actually have “feel god” days as often as you like!

1. Buy coffee for the person in line behind you at the coffee shop … pay it forward.  It costs very little and the result WILL give someone pleasant surprise.

2. Send a hand written note to three people in your life that you know will like it … friends, relatives, colleagues.  How often do you get mail these days?  Think about how you feel when there is something other than bills or junk in your mail!

3. Buy a sandwich for a homeless person.  Don’t necessarily give them money, but you could buy them a meal … it doesn’t have to cost much.

4. Bring cup cakes (donuts, chocolates, fruit … whatever works best) to the office.  You like it when someone else does it … so just do it!

Quote from Winston Churchill about value of giving5. Praise someone who could do with a “lift”.  We don’t know what is going on in other people’s lives, but a compliment or a kind word out of the blue can certainly be a mood booster for most people!

6. Smile … make it a “no frown” day!  Smiles are contagious!

7. Share a joke with your friends … make it appropriate to the most conservative of those friends.  I think most of us like the occasional (don’t overdo it)  levity to break up the work day.

8. Call your mom … (and/or dad, sister, brother)!  Enough said!

9. Do a good deed for a stranger … drive a neighbor somewhere, pick up groceries for an elderly person etc.

10. Do something for a charity (not for profit) … make a donation, volunteer some time, get involved!  Our society relies on volunteers … do something to help out.

If doing one, some, or all of these things made you feel good about yourself then resolve to do them more often!

It seems counter-intuitive to some people, but take it from me: giving is one of the best things we can for ourselves!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Find Canada’s top hot jobs, updated in real-time!  Visit Eagle’s Job Centre!
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April 9th, 2014

If You Are Leaving A Voicemail Do It Right!

Quote about communication from George Bernard ShawHow often do you get a voicemail that you find hard to understand?

How often do you get a voicemail that misses some critical information?

Voicemails are an effective tool if used correctly, but they can be frustrating if they are done badly.

In the last few days I have had several voicemails that have been difficult to understand, I listen to them a couple of times but if I don’t get the message by then I just ignore them!  That defeats the purpose of the call and leaves me frustrated.  Clearly just a little bit of attention by the caller would have made it a positive experience rather than a frustrating one.  Speaking too fast, speaking too close to the microphone can create a lisp that makes it hard to hear and accents can be difficult to understand … I had them all this week!

Here are a few tips for leaving business voicemails:

1.  Be prepared … if you are expecting to talk to someone, and are not prepared to leave a voicemail then hang up.  You can call back when you have thought through your message.

2.  Keep it short.

3.  Tell people who you are first … “This is Kevin Dee from Eagle”.

4.  Tell people why you are calling … “I am calling to follow up on an invitation you sent me”.

5.  If there is more detail, then be clear about that … “I would like to get some more information about the event”.

6.  Give a clear contact number … “You can call me back at (999) 999-9999″.

7.  Repeat the contact information … “Again this is Kevin Dee at (999) 999-9999″.  Note that by repeating this information you may save the person from having to re-listen to the voicemail … for which they will be appreciative!

8.  Speak slowly, knowing that the person may need to write this down.  Too many times I will need to listen to a voicemail multiple times and still have trouble catching the details.

9.  Enunciate your words clearly.  If you have an accent, then practice talking so that people WILL understand what you say.  (This applies to me too!)

10.  If it is a sales call, make sure you inject energy and enthusiasm into your voice.

  • Role Play leaving voicemails;
  • Smile while you are talking;
  • Preparation of your message is EXTRA important;
  • Try standing up when leaving a message.

Any communication is important and voicemail done correctly achieves your aim, but it can also create a favorable impression of you … or NOT!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Find Canada’s top hot jobs, updated in real-time!  Visit Eagle’s Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?

April 9th, 2014

Spring Resolutions!

ResolutionMany people make New Year Resolutions and most of those people fail to meet their goals.  If you want an indicator of that just visit any gym early in the New Year and again a couple of months later!

Spring is a great time to re-commit to some small changes in your life … call it your Spring Resolutions!

It is a much better time of year to make resolutions because everything feels better in the Spring!  The flowers start to appear, the Winter coats go into storage, you get to go outside without a coat, the sun feel good and there is a general uplift in people’s mood.

Here are some ideas for making resolutions stick!

  1. They need to be meaningful, or they will not be important enough for you to effect change.
  2. They need to be achievable, or you will lose interest or discipline or patience.
  3. They need to be top of mind … so you must find a way to build them into your routine.  Whether through reminders, or personal coaches or just sticky notes on your monitor.
  4. They should be reachable in a reasonable amount of time.  If it is going to take a year to reach your goal then you will likely give up.  Just make it into smaller goals achievable in shorter times.

Here are some examples that could change your life.

If You change nothing, nothing will change!1.  Career Goal.  You want a promotion at some point, or a career change, or even a first job.

  • I will take course “Z” in the Fall and complete it by the New Year.
  • I will send 2 targeted letters (emails) a day, customized to the specific company.
  • I will improve my personal brand by upgrading my work wardrobe, networking monthly with senior people and will work an extra 15 minutes a day to get noticed.

2.  Health Goals.  You want to get back into “college shape”, but you put on 50 pounds since then!

  • I will write down everything I eat in a log, and reduce the amount by 10%.
  • I will walk more every day … get off the bus/subway 2 stops early; walk up stairs rather than take elevator; walk for 30 minutes at lunch etc.
  • When I am ready I will set my next goals … but no later than 60 days from now.

3.  Hobbies Goal.  You might want a new hobby or have a desire to do more with an existing one.

  • I will join a group of like-minded people … a book club, a model train club, a biking club etc.
  • I will read one book a month on this subject for the next 3 months.
  • I will find one friend who will come with me … to dance lessons, choir practice etc.

All of these goals are small steps towards enriching your life … OR you could just keep doing what you do!  Like most things in life, it is a choice we all have to make … I believe it is far better to make a conscious choice and not just let life happen to you!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?

April 7th, 2014

Great Leaders Lead By Example To Protect Their Personal AND Company Brand

Integrity is doing the right thing even when noone is lookingA couple of days ago I wrote a blog entry called 10 Ways Leaders Can Build Their Team.

One thing implied, but not actually said in that blog entry was that a good leader will lead by example.

The leader who says, “Do what I say, not what I do will have trouble gaining the respect of her/his team”.

This aspect of leadership is difficult for many people because they believe they have earned the right for a few perks, or to slow down a little. That is a dangerous perception!

Here are a few situations/thoughts on leading by example.

1. Time. If you expect your people to work a full 8 hours (and hopefully a little more) then you need to be willing to do the same. Not only that, you need to be SEEN to be doing the same! If you arrive a little late, leave a little early, are rarely around on Friday afternoons and never seen in the office after 5pm guess what your people think? They will have no qualms about following THAT lead!

2. Expenses. You expect your people to be reasonable with their expenses, not to overdo it, to get a good return on investment. You want them to build good relationships with your clients, to treat them well but not be too ostentatious. However you like to be “the man” picking up tabs, spending company money like it’s your own, going to the best restaurants, golfing regularly with “old friends” more than with existing and potential clients. That is a lead that your salespeople will follow and it will not result in more business … yet if they spread their attentions and treated all their clients well (but not lavishly) they would likely have better relationships with more people.

You always know the right thing.  The hard part is doing it.3. Travel. Travel is expensive … hotels and flights are not cheap. The time people take getting from place to place is generally nonproductive time. You want your people to be reasonable with their costs, to plan their trips to take advantage of deals, to stay in reasonable hotels and not to travel during the work day. Do you travel business class for short flights (I always travel economy even when cross Canada on 4 or 5 hour flights), stay in the best hotels, and travel during the business day (I catch early flights or late flights depending on time zone changes … mostly flying on my own time). You are setting an example for your people … and they WILL follow your lead.

4. Respect. You want a company that treats people well but do you treat ALL of the people you deal with well? Do you respect their time … or are they supposed to fit around your schedule? Are you thoughtful about their life situations, or is that just their problem? Do you expect someone else to clean up after you, or do you drop your own cup in the dishwasher? The little things count … and just because you are the boss it does not mean you can’t do the right thing! If you are willing to do the right things then the people around you are far more likely to follow suit!

5. Life Long Learning. We all know that the pace of change today is incredible and that in order to stay relevant we need to keep learning. Whatever business you are in it is your staff who are head to head with the competition every day … are they learning and growing to stay competitive? More importantly are you setting the right example by doing the same … and in such a way that you set an example? A boss who is always learning will have a chance of staying current but more importantly is helping his team to see the value in staying current … which ultimately will decide the success or not of your company.

These are just a few top of mind examples.  The culture of an organisation is set by its leaders, and if those leaders are not consistent with their positive messages, both explicit and through their actions, it impacts the culture.

Good leaders act the way they expect others to act and are conscious about their personal brand as well as that of their company.

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?

April 7th, 2014

10 Things A Productive Salesperson Can Do With 20 Minutes

20 minSome time ago I wrote a blog entry about how effectively using 20 minutes could have a big impact for self-development. Given that we often “waste” 20 minutes on non-productive activities there is very little cost to doing this.

Today I thought I would look at how a salesperson might use 20 minutes effectively!

Here are some ways in which salespeople use 20 minutes (or more) that is not bringing much (any?) value to their sales efforts.  (How NOT to use 20 minutes):

1. The walk to the coffee shop and waiting in line. Can be 10 minutes, more often it is 30 minutes from leaving the desk to getting back. Drink the office coffee or have coffee with clients!

2. Going for a smoke … I think some people still do this.

3. Driving to appointments … listening to music, or just driving.

4. Catching up on the news, sports or otherwise.  Really … do it before work or in the evening.

5. Researching. This is necessary, but so many salespeople go overboard!  Use the 80/20 rule … it’s a quick search that takes a few minutes and then get on the phone!

6. Chatting. Salespeople love to chat … that is good if you are chatting with clients or prospects; discussing market conditions or opportunities; learning about your industry etc. It is not so good if it’s about “the game”, your golf score, the latest stock news and/or it is with your buddy!

7. Waiting.  Salespeople wait for word on a deal; wait for the phone to ring etc.  In our industry salespeople like to hover over the recruiter … ZERO value;

8. Worrying. A classic … not knowing what to do next, how to fix the numbers, how to deal with a situation etc.

9. Goofing off. Running personal errands on company time.

10. Texting friends and family. It is hard to focus on your job when you are planning your social life, hearing the minute by minute news and texting with multiple people.

successHow COULD salespeople make good use of just 20 minutes gleaned from the above kinds of activities?

1. Send 4 hand written cards to key clients … thanking them for business, wishing them happy <insert event here>; just because!

2. Source and send 4 interesting articles to interested clients … technology articles to your tech clients; banking/finance/business articles to your financial sector clients; personal development articles to any of your clients.

3. Call 5 of your prospects, connect with one and have a 20 minute introduction & set up a meeting call.

4. Read a relevant industry article, business book summary (Subscribe to a service), new company literature etc.

5. Call 2 of your key clients for a 10 minute (each) “How’s it going? When can we get together call”.

6. Revisit your To Do list, add items to be done, prioritise your tasks and plan for the next day.

7. Write your monthly report … if it is only mid-month, you can complete half of it so at month end it is easier.

8. Research your competition … 20 minutes looking at articles about them, their web sites, who might be in the news.

9. Add to your LinkedIn network…. how many relevant people can you connect with in 20 minutes/

10. Plan for your next road trip to a client. Pre-program phone numbers into your phone for ease of hands free calling, decide who to call and what you want to talk to them about. That way you can maximise your time on that 30 minute drive!

There are probably 100 things a salesperson could do with 20 minutes! Next time it is close to quitting time and you are wondering what to do pull out this list and be productive.

Better yet … how many 20 minute productive tasks can you add?

A picture of what a salesperson should be ... using words

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?

April 4th, 2014

10 Ways Leaders Can Build Their Team

A picture identifying the I in the word TEAMThere is a fairly well established school of thought that a strong team will outperform a group of individuals fairly consistently.  It is demonstrated in sports and in the workplace when people are willing to work to help each other and not just act selfishly.

How DO managers, leaders and executives build a team environment?  What kinds or actions can they take?

If you are the leader and hire the people to form a team then you have a head start, because they arrive into a situation where you are already the leader.

If you are a peer of the team who gets promoted then you have some work to do … and this is probably the toughest kind of situation.

If you are hired into a managerial position from an external source then you too, have some work to do and you can create a conscious plan to achieve this end.

As I see it there are two routes to take … (1) you are the boss and the team can “get in line”; or (2) you can work at creating a team.

I think that expecting your team to “get in line” is a reasonable expectation, especially with senior people.  The only problem is that “people are people” … and it is almost never that easy!  They will worry.  They will read into situations.  They will be jealous.  They will look for issues.  They will exhibit all kinds of human emotions and for no better reason other than it is human nature!

In order to build a team the leader needs to gain the respect and the trust of his/her team.

Eagle Skydiving Teamwork PosterHere are some tangible things that you can do, and some situations to be aware/careful about in working to build a team environment…

1. Your team needs to know that there are no favorites.  This is especially the case for peers promoted into the position.

2. You could adopt an inclusive approach … asking and valuing their opinions, letting them be a part of any solutions.

3. You should give positive feedback where warranted … don’t be shy about recognising good behaviours and good performance.

4. You must be consistent!

5. You could take an interest in them as people … not just as employees. They don’t need to be your best friend but they should feel that you really care about their welfare.

6. You should give them the benefit of your experience … but not take public credit.

7. You could look for ways to help them to look good.

8. You could occasionally have social interaction, without the pressures of work.

9. You could help them celebrate wins … small and large.

10. You should make them feel that you will always treat them fairly.

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?

April 3rd, 2014

Technology Industry News For March 2014

picture of a newspaperThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the ICT industry for March 2014.  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, in March 2009 Google was in the news for creating a $100 Million venture fund. Bell Canada bought “the Source” and the break-up of BearingPoint, post Chapter 11, benefited Deloitte and PwC amongst others around the world.  March 2010 saw a continuation of the economic recovery.  It was a quiet month for M&A activity with CA buying both 3Tera for about $90 million and Nimsoft for $350 million.  Chordiant was bought by Facebook logoPegasytems for a little over $160 million, and the other notable deal was Avnet’s $340 million purchase of Bell Microproducts.   Three years ago, in March 2011 world events included Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear woes.  The big technology event of the month was AT&T’s announcement of a $39 Billion deal to buy T-Mobile … which later failed, costing AT&T a reputed $4 billion.  While there were no other mega-deals of this nature it was a fairly busy month in the M&A world.  Montreal’s Radian6 was snapped up by Salesforce.com for about $276 million; Facebook made a couple of acquisitions in the mobile space Snaptu and Beluga; YouTube paid about $50 milion 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 capital Appirio ($60 million) and Hootsuite ($20 million).  Cisco made a couple of acquisitions, paying a wopping $5 billion for video software and content company NDS Group in addition to a smaller network management dell logobuy, ClearAccess.  NEC paid $450 million for the information management business of Convergys and Avaya paid $230 million for an Israeli videoconferenceing and telepresence company Radvision.  Other companies on the acquisition trail were DELL, EMC, SafeNet, Avnet and The Utility Company.  Finally, SAIC agreed to pay close to a half billion dollars to the City of New York related to charges it overbilled and paid kickbacks!  Last year, in March 2013 some of the “usual characters” were making acquisitions, but there were no billion dollar deals announced.  Oracle continued its move into 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.  Microsoft ran into some difficulties in the EU, having to pay a $732 million antitrust fine related to Internet Explorer and Evernote suffered a security breach affecting 50 million users.

Which brings us back to the present …

SAPMarch 2014 was not a banner month for acquisitions but there was one big deal with Facebook making 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.  Some other interesting moves saw a fair bit of investment in “big data” company Cloudera with both Google (as part of an investment consortium) and Intel involved.  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 division.  There were a few other smaller deals plus Embarcadero bought the ERwinDate Modelling software from CA.

BitcoinOther than M&A activity there were a number of companies making news, and not all for good stuff!  IBM’s server sale to Lenovo has generated some significant labor troubles in China, Google was ordered to pay $85 million to SimpleAir for patent infringement and NetApp announced it was laying off almost 5% of its workforce representing 600 jobs.  A couple of Bitcoin exchanges ran into serious trouble with Mt.Gox “losing” $500 million in bitcoins and Vicurex freezing all of its accounts after a serious hack.  Notable “people events” in March saw Target’s CIO Beth Jacob resign in response to the recent major data breach and Symantec fired their CEO Steve Bennett.

Economic news was at best “tepid” in Canada, with the unemployment rate unchanged and indicators generally “blah” (that is one of my best economic terms).  Indicators in the US however were generally positive with growth in GDP, several confidence indices showing promise and an outlook of increased hiring.

That is it for my 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 at the end of April, until then … walk fast and smile!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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