CEO Blog

Category Archives: IT Staffing Industry

All blog posts by Kevin Dee, Chairman at Eagle — Canada’s premier staffing agency, related to the information technology (IT) staffing industry.

Top 10 Blog Entries for 2015

Top Ten Eagle blog entriesThe following were the most popular blog entries from the last year.  If you missed any of them then now is an opportunity to catch up!

Surviving a Downturn (in Alberta?).  This was a “reprint” of advice from Tom Peters just before the last recession.  It seemed topical back in January as oil prices plummeted and jobs were being cut in the oil patch.  Unfortunately things are not better yet!

“You buck yourself up with the thought that “this too shall pass”—but then remind yourself that it might not pass anytime soon, so you re-dedicate yourself to making the absolute best of what you have now.”  Tom Peters

Independent Contractor Myths & Realities in CANADA!  The Canadian Federal regulations around independent contractors have not changed in thirty years, despite the changing nature of work.  Too often I see “experts” pontificating about the risks of using contractors without a real understanding of the subject.  There are many benefits to companies using independent contractors and so this blog was focused on presenting the facts!

“Every government interference in the economy consists of giving an unearned benefit, extorted by force, to some men at the expense of others.”  Ayn Rand

Attitude Matters … A Little Humility is a Good Thing!  This was a reminder that no matter how good we are, or think we are, it can always change!  It does not cost anything to be a little humble, and it will help with relationships that could be important to you at some point in the future.  Also includes 13 rules from General Colin Powell.

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; noting on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” W. W. Ziege

Email Etiquette – 20 Tips!  Email is such a big part of our lives that everybody should be aware of the basics of email etiquette.  Some of it is good manners, some of it is common sense and some of it is good time management … hope it helps!

“Communication works for those who work at it.” John Powell

10 Lessons From a Retirement Party on Living a Good Life.  A good friend of mine retired this past year, and it was interesting to see the impact he had on so many people.  He is a role model and we can all learn from him.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”  Vivian Greene 

Positive (or Negative) Influences Can Change Your Life.  Some of the best advice I ever received was to surround myself with positive people, and equally try to avoid negative influences.  This blog entry expounds on those principles.

“Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher.”  Oprah Winfrey

10 Thoughts About Measuring Success?  For many people success is defined by money or position, but that is narrow thinking.  Success should be personal, not necessarily what others consider success.  YOU need to decide what success looks like for you.

“Stop chasing the money and start chasing the passion.”  Tony Hsieh

Leadership Should Be Uncomfortable (and it is)!  Leadership is sometimes glamorised, so it is important that you know what you are getting into!  This was an attempt at showing some of the realities of leadership.

“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

A Mentor/Mentee Relationship is Attractive BUT Hard Work!  Both mentors and mentees need to work hard if such a relationship is to bring the real value.  Learning by osmosis in an ad-hoc fashion is rarely effective!

“For every one of us that succeeds, it is because there’s somebody there to show you the way out.” Oprah Winfrey

Waiting is Not a Winning Strategy.  In contradiction to the phrase, Good things come to those who wait, my suggestion is that you need to make things happen yourself!

“Don’t just stand there.  Make it happen.”  Lee Iacoca

Hope you enjoyed some of my blog entries in 2015 … in January I will have been blogging for 10 years, and I have written about 1,850 entries.  I guess that makes me “opinionated”!

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Independent Contractor Myths & Realities in CANADA!

SMB Statistics in CanadaFrom time to time governments will decide that they need to crack down on independent contractors.  Typically the suggestion is that independent contractors are paying less in taxes than they should, or that they are really employees.  During the run up to the recent federal election Justin Trudeau made some references to small business owners avoiding taxes, and hopefully he does some research before he buys into a rhetoric that believes every worker should be an employee of a large entity.

Here are some things you might not have known about independent contractors in the professional space in Canada .  It is very important to remember that Canadian laws are different than US laws., because too often I see “experts” weighing in with advice, based on their US experience.

  1. Taxation … contractors pay the same amount in taxes as everyone else.

An independent contractor in Canada is typically a one person corporation.  Her corporation gets paid for the work done and the contractor either (a) takes a dividend from the corporation as opposed to a salary, or (b) pays themselves a salary.  The dividend route only provide a small tax advantage (by way of deferring taxes) IF she leaves some of the earnings in the company.  If, like 99% of Canadians she spends what she earns then she pays pretty much the same amount of tax as everyone else.  If she doesn’t spend every penny then she might defer tax … but she still pays it!

  1. Expenses … yes the independent contractor gets to write off SOME business expenses.

These are typically minimal, AND if they worked for “big company” then it would be “big company” writing off the expenses.  So, the write offs would have occurred anyway. These are the expenses associated with taking responsibility for a business … marketing, technology, professional services and other necessary business costs.  All of these costs go back into our economy supporting other businesses. and creating jobs.

  1. Risk … independent contractors accept some risks, like any business.

An independent contractor is a business, and as such accepts some risks as it is a lifestyle they choose.  They have no guarantees of long term work they are responsible for finding every gig themselves, in strong or weak economies.  They can be let go at a moment’s notice, with no severance.  If their work is not accepted they don’t get paid.   They need to carry business insurance because they can be sued by their client.  They accept the risk of their and their family’s health, with no big company benefits.  They don’t get paid for time off, vacations, sick days or training time.

  1. Value to the economy … they are a big boon to Canada’s economy.

Having a flexible workforce is HUGE for all companies, and essential to many!  Special projects, seasonal demands or the ability to pilot new ideas without committing to long term employment contracts are essential for these companies.  Having rare expertise available to many companies, rather than just one employer, is a big advantage to Canada’s economy and the average self-employed individual is very motivated to be productive … their continued contract depends on it.

It is worth noting that some percentage of independent contractors have aspirations for a bigger corporate entity.  They might be developing a product on the side, or they might band together with a few others to create a company.  There are many success stories where one or a few contractors formed a company that became a household name.  Some names that come to mind might include CGI, Calian and Cognos but I’m sure there are many.  Entrepreneurs will often start small and go on to bigger things.

  1. The New Way of Work … this is a growing trend in society today

Whether to become self-employed has always been a personal choice.  It offers the individual more control over their career, the ability to earn a good income without having to move into management when they are more interested in a specialised career.  It allows for freedom to take time off for whatever reason.  These people choose to manage their own retirement plans.  They have to find their own benefits and accept the responsibility of  business ownership.

I guess Ronald Reagan might have been right when he said, “You can’t be for big government, big taxes, and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy.”

It would be my wish that all elected officials understand the realities of employment today and understand the value of these small business owners.  These are valuable contributors to Canada’s economy and messing with that is not going to help anyone!  It certainly won’t put more tax dollars into the coffers!

“Every government interference in the economy consists of giving an unearned benefit, extorted by force, to some men at the expense of others. ”  Ayn Rand

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Tech Industry News for October 2015

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the tech industry for October 2015. 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 Octobers …

Five years ago in October Twenty-Ten Bell Canada bought a data center in Montreal (Hypertec) and picked up xwave from its subsidiary Bell Aliant.  Rogers paid $425 million for Atria networks and IBM picked up Toronto based Clarity Systems.  A year later in steve jobsOctober 2011 an industry icon, Steve Jobs passed away and IBM announced Virginia Rometty as their first female CEO.  On the M&A front Oracle made a couple of buys, including RightNow Technologies ($1.5 Billion) and Endeca Technologies; Sony bought Ericsson out of their Sony Ericsson joint venture ($1.5 Billion); Red Hat bought storage company Gluster ($136 million); and Cisco bought BNI Video ($99 million).  Three years ago EMC logothe October 2012 news was dominated by Hurricane Sandy and the US presidential election.   The big deal of the month was a $1.5 billion merger of two US cell carriers, T-Mobile and MetroPCS.  There were also a number of smaller deals, with EMC beefing up in the security area (Silver Tail), Telus expanding its medical solutions portfolio (Kinlogix Medical) and Avnet improving its IBM capabilities (BrightStar and BSP).  In the social networking world Yelp bought its European competitor Qype in a $50 million deal. Oracle logo a large software company originally noted for its databaseOctober 2013 was not a dynamic M&A month, although there was certainly some activity.  Oracle announced two acquisitions, both “cloud based companies: Big Machines provides pricing and quote date for sales and orders; and Compendium is a content marketing company.  Other “names” out shopping included Avaya buying the software division of ITNavigator for its call centre and social media monitoring software; Rackspace bought ZeroVM a tech company with a software solution for the cloud; Intuit bought consulting company Level Up Analytics, primarily to acquire its talent; VMWare bought “desktop as a service” company Desktone; Netsuite bought human capital software company TribeHR; and Telus enhanced its mobile offering with the purchase of Public HP logoMobile.  Last year in October 2014 we saw a new trend, with two public companies both choosing to split into smaller entities.  HP announced it was creating a business service focused Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and personal computing & printer company HP Inc.  Interestingly enough this takes effect November 1, 2015.  Symantec also chose to split into two independent public companies, one focused on business and consumer security products, the other on its information management portfolio.  Other interesting news saw IBM pay $1.5 Billion to GlobalFoundries so it would take away its money losing semiconductor manufacturing business.  NEST bought out competitor Revolv; EMC bought three cloud companies, The Cloudscaling Group, Maginatics and Spanning Cloud Apps; and in Korea, Kakao and Daum merged to form a $2.9 billion internet entity.

Which brings us back to the present …

dell logoOctober 2015 brought some big deals with the biggest seeing Dell offer $26 billion to buy storage company EMC.  Interestingly an EMC subsidiary, VMWare was also out shopping, picking up a small email startup, Boxer.  In another deal involving “big bucks”, Western Digital are paying $19 billion for storage competitor Sandisk.  IBM were also writing a big cheque, paying $2 billion in a big data/internet of things play for The Weather Network (minus the TV operations), and IBM also picked up a storage company, Cleversafe.  Cisco paid $522.5 million for cybersecurity firm Lancope; LogMeIn is paying $110 million for IBM logoLastPass; Trend Micro is paying $350 million for next generation intrusion prevention systems company HP Tippingpoint; Red Hat picked up deployment task execution and automation company Ansible; Vasco Data Security is paying $85 million for solution provider Silanis; and Apple is buying a speech processing startup, VocalIQ.  As industries converge it is interesting to see Securitas pay $350 million for Diebold’s US Electronic Security business.

Twitter logoOther companies in the news include Twitter who announced 336 layoffs; Apple lost a patent fight with the University of Wisconsin to the tune of $234 million (of course they also recorded record profits of more than $5 billion).  Google are launching a neat project to bring the internet to 100,000 Indonesian people using balloons (Project Loon).

The US economy continues to impress, adding another 200,000 jobs and having generally positive indicators from surveys and reports.  There are signs that the growth is slowing but this is just to be expected.  Canada added 12,100 jobs in September but the unemployment rate rose to 7.1%.  A new Liberal government was voted in, so we will watch how that works out.

That is my update on tech news for October 2015 … until next month, stay positive, walk fast and smile!
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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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5 Ideas to Get the Recruiter’s Attention

Getting a recruiters attentionIn the recruiting business we are constantly looking for great people to meet the needs of our clients.

When your job entails looking at hundreds and thousands of resumes it can be easy to get a little cynical.  Our job is to sort through the large numbers of resumes and weed out those that are not a fit.  Just some of the things that will influence us as we go about this task are inconsistencies in resumes, unexplained gaps in experience, inconsistencies in write-ups from one job to another, poor grammar and spelling mistakes.

We see generic resumes submitted on multiple different roles.  If we are looking for a project manager then we will be looking for project management experience in the resume,  a focus on project management in the candidate’s more recent experiences and in any overview.  If the focus of the resume is anything else then that candidate is likely not going to be considered for a project management role, even though they might have relevant experience.

We look for experience we would expect for a given role and when we don’t see it we are left wondering if the person really is qualified.  If someone is applying for a technical role that would suggest several different types of skills, we want to see all of those skills on the resume.  Often candidates assume that because they have a certain role on their resume that all of the requisite skills to do that role are assumed … never assume!

We sometimes see write-ups that look very familiar, and references that are the same as many other resumes.  We have seen a type of fraud where groups of individuals, typically from the same origins, get together and provide references for each other and their resumes are almost word for word the same!  Obviously we stay away from these people.

“Quality is never an accident.  It is always the result of intelligent effort.”  John Ruskin

We have very little time to respond to our clients with qualified candidates so we will always prefer to work with people we know.  That might be people we have worked with before, people we have met and interviewed or people that are referred by trusted sources.

Candidates applying for jobs may wonder why they have difficulty getting considered by recruiters and may assume that recruiters are just not competent, perhaps they are rude or maybe they are playing favorites.  The reality is that they operate in a very fast paced environment and for you to be considered seriously you need to help yourself.

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”  Beverly Sills

Here are 5 thoughts for people looking to get the attention of recruiters:

  1. Make sure your resume is a true reflection of the job you are applying for;
  2. Put significant effort into the content … this is a “selling document” and needs to convince the recruiter that you are someone worth considering.
  3. Make sure you have no spelling or grammatical errors in your resume.  Get help if necessary.
  4. Make the recruiters job easy.  If the advertised role asks for specific skills (2 years of Java development etc) then point out specifically where you have the experience, and make sure it is clear in your resume.
  5. Try to develop a rapport with a few recruiters.  Getting interviewed and providing references BEFORE they have a job you want will enhance your chances.

“If you want to earn a certain amount of money, develop yourself into the person who is worth being paid that amount of money.”  Idowu Koyenikan
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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
———————————————————————————————————————————


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CANADIAN JOB MARKET Review Third Quarter 2015

Canadian Job MarketCANADIAN JOB MARKET Review Third Quarter 2015

General Observations:

This has been a tough year thus far in Canada.  With GDP contracting for each of the first two quarters, Canada suffered a “technical recession”, and many businesses felt it!  The primary reason for the malaise has been the impact on the oil sector caused by a low price per barrel.  Another impact has been the economic meltdown in China, which is a large consumer of Canadian raw materials.

The employment rate at the end of Q3 dipped to 7.1%, from 6.8% in Q2.  This was attributed to more people entering the workforce, but still means a lot of people looking for work.  Canada added about 31,000 jobs in Q3 and has added 161,000 in the 12 months to September.  This is down from the 176,000 jobs over the 12 months to June.

TSXAs another economic indicator the TSX has been fairly volatile.  At the end of Q3 the TSX was at about 13,300 which was down about 1,200 points from the 14,500 reading at the end of Q2.

As already mentioned the price of a barrel of oil has plummeted and is currently sitting around $50 a barrel.  The price has fluctuated significantly having reached lows near $40 a barrel during Q3 but was at $55 at the end of Q2.  There is no relief in sight for the oil companies yet meaning continuing cut backs, reduction in spending and layoffs.

The Canadian dollar has also been suffering and at the end of Q2 a Canadian dollar was worth less than 75c US, compared to 80c at the end of Q2.  This is not ALL bad news, and Canadian manufacturers and exporters are benefiting, however travel is costly as is importing materials.

Piggy Bank accepting moneyThe banking sector continues to be a big user of talent and one of the largest employers in Canada.  The primary demand for talent is in Toronto, but there is also demand in Montreal.  While the competitive nature of the industry requires investment in innovation, technology and responsiveness to regulatory change there is also a need to control costs.  We have seen some fluctuation in demand as certain parts of the financial sector have been reducing staff while others have been hiring.

The telecommunications companies are big employers in Canada and are also very cost conscious.  While they demand the best talent in order to compete, they are also careful about keeping employment costs under control.  Some of the drivers of demand here include the highly competitive nature of the business, investment in infrastructure, technological innovation and a need to plan for a retiring “Boomer” workforce.

ConstructionA recent US report cites labor shortages in the US construction industry and I have no doubt we will see the same here in Canada. It is an industry that is in demand, and other than the current “hiccups” in the oil sector, which will pass, there will be a constant demand into the future.  From cranes dotting the landscapes of our cities, through infrastructure work on our highways and home improvement projects everywhere the signs of an in-demand industry are plain to see.

The upcoming Federal election has the usual effect of dampening demand for resources, as projects are put on hold to ensure they are still the mandate of the new administration.  Governments everywhere are being very careful with their spending however there is always some demand, whether it is at the Federal, Provincial or Municipal level. They are huge employers, and people with the right skills are generally always in demand. Regulatory change, policy development and general administrative needs dictate the need for a large and skilled workforce that receives competitive incomes and very attractive pensions and benefits. I would expect to see a slowdown in this sector that will depend upon whether there is a change in government, and might last from 3 to 6 months.  The newish Alberta government has not yet ramped up its new projects, but it is expected that work will be generated as they change the focus of the administration.  Having said all of the above, one area of demand is in the transportation space where governments are making investments across the country, thus creating job opportunities.

The Canadian Staffing Index is an indicator of the strength of the largest provider of talent in any economy (the staffing industry) and an excellent barometer of the health of Canada’s economy. The latest score suggests a continued slowdown in demand for talent in Q3. I would expect an increase in demand for staff augmentation resources in Q4 as we recover from the “technical recession”.
Eagle LogoHere at Eagle we continue to see significant impact on our Western Canada business however other markets remain fairly steady.  Year over year the number of orders received has dropped about 20%, which can largely be attributed to the oil patch. Other markets have been relatively consistent across the country.

More Specifically:

Blue JaysThe GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is by far Canada’s, and Eagle’s, largest market. The sheer size of the population and the fact that it contains the most head offices makes it a large consumer of talent and as such, the best place to be looking for work.  This market accounts for approximately 60% of Eagle’s business which comes from the major industries here, which include the financial, insurance, government and telecommunications sectors.  The retail sector and the construction industry also generate significant demand, in addition to the engineering space.  Despite a technical recession the GTA continues to demand talent.

oil patchIn Western Canada Alberta, and more specifically Calgary as the “oil capital” of Canada, has taken the brunt of the hit from the drop in oil prices.  All of the major oil companies have their Canadian head office in Calgary and cost cutting has resulted in many layoffs.  The “anti-oil” stance of the relatively new NDP government has done nothing to help matters.  If investment in Alberta is not going to be valued then these companies can invest elsewhere.  The “oil sector bust” will pass but it remains to be seen whether investment will remain in Alberta bringing back the jobs that have been lost to date.  Elsewhere the impact has not been as bad, with Vancouver, Regina and Edmonton still in need of talent.

Parliament building in OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”. The impact of the upcoming Federal election will be felt in Ottawa for a few months, resulting in a slowdown in demand.  Montreal is relatively steady but not booming, with demand coming from the financial sector, the telecommunication companies and the construction industry. The Maritime Provinces typically have higher unemployment rates ranging from 8.8% in Nova Scotia to 13.6% in Newfoundland, and this region remains a tough place to find work.

The Hot Client Demand.

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

Summary:

“If all the economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.”

George Bernard Shaw

The third quarter of 2015 has been “more of the same”, with the economy severely affected by the oil sector and corporate concern about the political climate.  An NDP government in Alberta and an upcoming election that has the potential to bring a left leaning Federal government is not going to result in good news to corporate Canada.  There is no timeline on when oil will recover, nor what the recovery will look like, and until the election is done we will not know the impact on business.

While Alberta has suffered most, with recession-like symptoms, the rest of Canada has also endured a technical recession for the first two quarters with the result Canada’s unemployment rate is at 7.1% the worst it has been all year.

Despite all of that, there are still opportunities created because of the demographic pressures (retiring Boomers) and the need for companies to remain competitive.  We see opportunity in the construction industry, the financial sector, the telecommunications sector and the Insurance sector.  We see the markets with the greatest demand as being Toronto, Vancouver and perhaps Montreal.  Other markets that should improve after the election might be Ottawa and Edmonton which should see some increase in government spending as new programs roll out.

While we don’t expect to see labor shortages in the near term (at least until the oil sector recovers) we do see skills shortages particularly in the knowledge economy and the trades.

The unemployment rate at 7.1% could be easily reduced with some positive news on the oil front and some positive moves by the governments (Federal and Provincial) in power.  If that happens we could quickly move back to a full employment situation and start to run up against the different issue of finding enough people!  Of course my crystal ball is about as good as anyone else’s, so we will wait and see how the economy unfolds over the balance of the year and into 2016.

“I always avoid prophesying beforehand because it is much better to prophesy after the event has already taken place. “

Winston Churchill

That was my quarterly look at the Canadian job market and some of its influences.

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Tech Industry News for September 2015

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the ICT industry for September 2015. 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 September in previous years …

Five years ago in September 2010 HP bought 3PAR for $2.4 Billion and they also paid $1.5 Billion for Arcsight and 3M paid close to $1 Billion for Cogent.  RIM bought a substantial part of DataViz, Ericsson beat out a local Ottawa based group in an auction for another piece of the defunct Nortel empire, CA bought Hyperformix; and AOL bought

SAPTechCrunch.  In September 2011 Broadcom paid $3.7 Billion for NetLogic.  Google was busy, buying restaurant reviewer Zagat plus acquiring 1,000 patents from IBM.  Ottawa’s Zarlink was bought by Microsemi for $525 million.  SAP bought Crossgate, Twitter bought Julpan and CSC bought Indian software testing company AppLabs, and Hitachi Data Systems continued the consolidation in the storage industry with the acquisition of BlueArc.  September 2012 was a quiet month in M&A deals.  Infosys increased its management consultancy capability with the $330 million purchase of Lodestone.  Lenovo bought Stoneware, a software company focused on the cloud, and Ericsson bought ConceptWave.  A couple of interesting investment moves saw Microsoft invest in Klout and Silicon Valley VC Chameth Palihapitiya invest in Xtreme Labs. In

blackberry 10September 2013 Blackberry announced a quarterly loss of almost $1 million and laid off 4,500 people. Microsoft bought Nokia’s devices and services unit for more than $7 billion. Ebay paid $800 million for payment platform Braintree; Synnex bought IBM’s customer care division for $505 million; Rogers added to its data centre capacity with the $161 million purchase of Pivot Data Centres; Extreme Networks bought Entersys Networks for $180 million; and Manitoba Telephone Systems bought Epic Information Systems.  September 2014 saw some big deals announced, including Microsoft’s $2.5
Google signbillion purchase of gaming company Minecraft, Lenovo’s $2.1 billion purchase of IBM’s x86 server business and Cognizant’s $2.7 billion purchase of healthcare company, Trizetto Corp.  Hootsuite had an injection of cash and bought two companies, social telephony company Zeetl and social media marketing platform Brightkit.  Google also made two acquisitions, biotech company Lift Labs and desktop polling company Polar. There were plenty more deals announced, including Yahoo’s $8 million purchase of cloud based document hosting company Bookpad; Cisco’s purchase of private cloud company Metacloud; SAP’s purchase of expense software company Concur; Blackberry’s purchase of virtual identity software startup Movirtu and Red Hat’s purchase of mobile app company FeedHenry.

Which brings us back to the present …

Microsoft logoSeptember 2015 saw a reasonable amount of M&A activity, but no blockbuster deals.  Microsoft was very active this month closing three deals, Adxstudio which provides web based solutions for Dynamics CRM; app developer Double Labs; and cloud security firm Adallom.  Accenture picked up the cloud services company Cloud Sherpas; IBM added cloud software startup StrongLoop; Netsuite paid $200 million for cloud based marketing company Bronto Software; and Blackberry paid $425 million for competitor Good Technology.  Hardware company Konica Minolta is expanding its services offering through the acquisition of IT Weapons; Qualcomm bought medical device and data management company Capsule Technologie; Networking and storage company Barracuda Networks is buying online backup and disaster recovery company Intronis; and Compugen is buying some of the assets of another Canadian company Metafore.

HP logoAlso in the news in September was HP, announcing another round of layoffs just prior to the November 1 split into two separate companies.  The smartphone industry is hurting, last month we heard from HTC and Lenovo, this month it is Samsung announcing cutbacks.

US GovernmentThe US economy continues to impress, adding another 190,00 jobs in August (about the same as Canada has added in a year).  Almost all of the surveys and indicators were positive with the jobless rate edging down to 5.1% and the only cloud on the horizon being labor shortages in the construction industry … and we will see more of that in many industries.

canada flagCanada on the other hand continues to struggle, having endured a “technical recession” through the first half of 2015 there might be some positive signs for the second half based on a sharp increase in GDP in June.  The unemployment rate rose to 7% however Canada did add 12,000 jobs in August.

That is what I saw in the tech news for September.  I will be back in just about a month.  Until then Walk Fast and Smile!
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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
————————————————————————————————————————————


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Tech Industry News for August 2015

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the ICT industry for August 2015. 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 August in previous years …

Five years ago in August 2010 Google made five acquisitions … Socialdeck, Angstro, Slide, Jambool and Like.com, but Intel spent the most money … paying $7.7 billion for McAfee AND $1.4 billion for Infinion Technology’s wireless division!  IBM bought Datacap and Unica Corp; HP bought Fortify Software and Stratavia; 3M paid $900 million for Cogent; CA paid $200 million for Arcot Systems; and Rim, Cisco, Citrix and Nokia were HP logoall out shopping too!  In addition to their two acquisitions HP lost CEO Mark Hurd to a scandal.  Three years ago in August 2011 Hurricane Irene hit the US coast, there was a mini-market crash and the world’s economies continued to struggle.  Google paid $12.5 billion for Motorola Mobility and IBM paid $387 million to add Algorithmics to its analytics portfolio, they also bought UK based analytics company i2.  Skype which was in the process of being merged into Microsoft, bought GroupMe, Bitly bought Twitterfeed and Citrix bought Ringcube.  August 2012 was slow in the M&A space with IBM busiest, paying $1.3 billion for HR solutions and services company Kenexa, plus they bought flash memory
Google signdeveloper, Texas Memory Systems.  The other “big name” deal was Google’s purchase of social media marketing company Wildfire Interactive, reputedly for $250 million.  Closer to home, Quebec’s 20-20 Technologies was sold for $77 million to private equity company Vector Capital Corp.  Last year August 2013 saw some interesting activity from a number of players.  At a time when employee engagement is considered critical, it was disheartening to see Cisco announce record profits and lay off 4,000 people at the same time.  IBM reputedly paid $1 billion for Trusteer, a cybersecurity company specialized in the financial services sector;  Qualcomm sold its fleet management software unit for $800 AOL logomillion to private equity firm Vista Equity Partners; and the other big dollar buy was AOL paying $405 million for online video company Adap.tv.  Facebook bought speech recognition company Mobile Technology; Google bought patents to support its Glass product from Foxconn; Software AG bought analytics firm Jackbe; Opentext paid $33 million for cloud based software company Cordys; and SAP bought ecommerce company Hybris. Last year in August 2014 there were no blockbuster deals, however a number of big name companies were out with their cheque books.  Intel paid $650 million for the LSI Axxia networking chip business; Vmware bought application delivery provider CloudVolumes; IBM bought Lighthouse Security Group to bolster its cloud based identity and access management capabilities; Google bought two startups, Emu to boost its messaging capabilities and Directr for its video advertising business; Facebook bought a security startup Privatecore, and the last BIG name saw Yahoo buying app company Zofari.  It appears that the big companies keep getting bigger, which is the way that the business world works!

Which brings us back to the present …

August 2015 was an exceptionally slow month in the M&A space however there were two IBM logobillion dollar deals.  Symantec sold Veritas (which it paid $13.5 Billion dollars for 10 years ago) to a group of investors for $8 Billion.  IBM also paid ”big bucks”, shelling out $1 billion for Merge Healthcare.  A small deal saw Calgary based Above Security bought by Hitachi; Transcomos bout 30% of Vietnamese daily deals site Hotdeal; Freshdesk bought live-chat company 1Click; and PLDT bought ecommerce startup Paywhere.

htc logoOther companies in the news were HTC for laying off 2,250 people and Lenovo who laid off 3,200 people.  Both companies struggling in the hyper-competitive smartphone space.

On the economic front there is much debate about Canada’s latest “recession” following reports of two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth.  Certainly the West is suffering because of the price of oil however Canada is still adding jobs and consumers are spending.  There is no panic, but it certainly isn’t the US, which seems to be going from strength to strength.  Almost every indicator there was positive again this month, and another 185,000 jobs added!  (Note: By the time you read this the August figures may have been released, so bear in mind this update is based on July numbers released in August.)

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 September 2015 industry news in just about a month’s time.

Walk Fast and Smile!

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Upgrade Your Team

Phil Jackson quote about teamsEvery company wants, and needs, to attract the best people that it can.

Good companies will invest in those people, empower them and hold them accountable for their performance.  As time goes by it becomes evident which of the people are top performers, which people are performing at an acceptable level and also the people who are not performing become identified.

“Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it. Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine.”   David Ogilvy

There are lots of reasons why people don’t perform, ranging from attitude problems to lack of training or skills, to the fact that they are just in the wrong job.

Managers will inevitably find themselves spending a significant amount of their time on people management, dealing with the non-performers and their various personnel issues.

Good companies will work with these people to try and fix the situation, and sometimes things turn around and sometimes they don’t.

It is important to both company and employee to resolve these situations quickly, so both can find the right solution moving forward.  If someone is in the wrong job, it is far better that they move on and find a place where they can succeed.  It is also a huge bonus for a manager, and consequently the company, to replace a “problem employee” with a top performer!

“Often the best solution to a management problem is the right person.”  Edwin Booz

In today’s world of skills shortages it is tough to find those top performers, so when opportunity arises it is smart to take advantage.

Some thoughts:

  1. You need to act quickly to manage non-performers out, unless they are working hard to fix things, or you are doing no-one any favors.
  2. Don’t try to keep marginal performers who choose to leave … there is always a better option out there.
  3. Hiring and firing decisions are business decisions, not “popularity contests”, don’t hire or fire JUST because you like or dislike someone.
  4. Any time you upgrade your team (replace lower performer with higher performer) you are magnifying the positive impact on your business because it also increases management efficiency.
  5. A positive improvement to a team will also have a positive impact on the rest of the team. People know when others are not pulling their weight.

“Get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus.” Jim Collins

So, take advantage of market conditions and other opportunities that allow you to improve your team.  Expect a short term impact, but as long as you are upgrading the benefits will be huge!

“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”  Red Adair

Final (slightly self-serving) thought … the price of professional help in finding those great people is a very small price to pay, so work with your friendly staffing company!

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Tech Industry News for July 2015

Tech News HeaderThis is my 30,000 foot look at events in the ICT industry for July 2015. 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 2010, NTT paid $3.2 Billion for Dimension Data and Nokia Siemens paid $1.2 Billion for Motorola’s wireless network equipment unit. IBM bought data compression company Storwize and in the same space Dell bought Ocarina Networks. EMC bought data analytics company Greenplum, Google added to its semantic search capability with the purchase of Metaweb Technologies,  Adobe paid $240 Million for a Swiss web software maker, Day Software Holdings and SAS increased its presence in the US Federal market through its purchase of Vision Systems and Technology.  July 2011 saw continued economic concerns in Europe and a game of political chicken in the US over the dell logoUS debt ceiling, meanwhile M&A news was relatively low key in the pure tech world.  Dell’s move into networking with the purchase of Force10 is possible the most significant tech deal, with Google (Punchd), Twitter (Backtype) and Adobe (EchoSign) all picking up smaller players to help move their agenda.  Three years ago in July 2012 Marissa Mayer became the new CEO at Yahoo and Dell bought Quest Software for $2.4 billion; Apple picked up Authentec for $356 million and Socialcam acquired Autodesk for $60 million.  Oracle was on a roll, buying (i) the assets of Skire (capital assets and facilities management software), (ii) Involver (a social marketing tools company) and (iii) Xsigo Systems (Network Virtualisation).  Vmware was also busy, picking up Dynamic Ops (virtualisation software) and Nicira (a start-up in the networking software space).  One interesting deal saw Digg bought for $500,000 by Betaworks, when Digg had been valued at $200 million just four Cisco logoyears ago. July 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 a Toronto based design agency Jet Cooper. Last year July 2014 had a lot of M&A activity but no real blockbuster deals.  Blackberry bought encryption company Secusmart GmbH; Twitter logoOracle 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.

Which brings us back to the present …

Microsoft 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.

EBay logoOther acquisitions saw Cisco as a seller, with Technicolor paying $600 million for Cisco’s set top box division; Level 3 bought security firm Black Lotus; Amadeus bought travel software company Navitaire (a subsidiary of Accenture) for $830 million; eBay sold its Enterprise unit for $925 million, having paid $2.4 billion for it 4 years ago.  In the continued blurring of the lines between technology companies and other industries, Capital One bank acquired design, development and marketing firm Monsoon.
US GovernmentAlmost every indicator from the US was positive again this month, with another 240,000 private sector jobs added in June.  The Canadian indicators were not as good with a loss of 6,400 jobs in June and a continued unemployment rate of 6.8%.  A Federal government report also suggests that Canada is headed for an IT skills shortage of approximately 182,000 people by 2019.

In other news Microsoft, already mentioned for two acquisitions this month, also announced layoffs of 7,800 people related to its phone hardware business.  Final word goes to online “marital affair” dating site Ashley Madison suffered a major hack and the hackers have threatened to “out” its users.  I guess that slogan “Life is short” could be seen differently for those who get outted!

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 2015 industry news in just about a month’s time.

Walk Fast and Smile.

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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CANADIAN JOB MARKET Review Second Quarter 2015

jobsGeneral Observations:

The first half of the year has been a challenge here in Canada, driven largely by the struggling oil sector, which tends to ripple through the economy.  The general feeling is that Statistics Canada will announce a recession, given that Canada will have experienced two consecutive quarters of contraction.

Target LogoFollowing a tough first quarter of low oil prices, mid-$40 range, and layoffs in the retail sector (Target, Sony, Mexxx) the second quarter has continued to see the effects of a depressed energy sector.

The employment rate at the end of Q2 is unchanged from the end of Q1, sitting at 6.8%.  There has been a loss of about 11,000 jobs in the oil sector however Canada has actually added 33,000 jobs in Q2, and 176,000 jobs over the last 12 months.

TSXAs another economic indicator the TSX has been fairly steady, despite other volatility in the markets.  At the end of Q2 the TSX was at about 14,500 which was down about 500 points from the 15,000 reading at the end of Q1.

As already mentioned the price of a barrel of oil has plummeted and is currently sitting around $55 a barrel, but at the end of Q1 was below $50.  This had a significant impact in the oil patch, resulting in cut backsOil can, reduction in spending and layoffs.  When coupled with a low Canadian dollar however it is not ALL bad news, and Canadian manufacturers and exporters are benefiting.

The financial sector is one of the largest employers in Canada and continues to be a busy user of talent.  This sector is centered primarily in Toronto, but with a significant presence in Montreal. There are many reasons why this sector remains busy including its highly competitive nature, evolving technologies, regulatory change and volatile markets.

Mobile antena. Communication conceptThe telecommunications sector is another big employer in Canada in a very competitive world.  Differentiation is achieved through infrastructure, technology advancements and new offerings.  In addition they are dealing with the effects of an aging workforce and the retiring baby boomers.

ConstructionThe construction industry is a large consumer of labor and remains a great place to find work, both in the trades and in the head offices of the large companies. You can see cranes dotting the landscape in most major cities with infrastructure projects, office towers and condo developments. The drop in oil prices has cost jobs in the oil sands and other large projects but in general, if people are willing to travel there is work to be had.  There continues to be high demand for “trades” in the home renovation and small scale construction world.

Despite the need for governments to contain costs we have seen a fairly steady demand in Federal, Provincial and Municipal Governments.  They are huge employers, and people with the right skills are always in demand. The required downsizing is generally achieved through attrition and there is always work to be done. Regulatory change, policy development and general administrative needs dictate the need for a large and skilled workforce that receives competitive incomes and very attractive pensions and benefits. As we get closer to Federal and Provincial elections the projects are slowing down and funding is harder to get.  I would expect to see a slowdown in this sector over the next six months At least.  It is difficult to say what will happen in Alberta with an NDP government that has no experience governing.  The general consensus seems to suggest a steep but fairly long learning curve that will cost jobs.

The Canadian Staffing Index is an indicator of the strength of the largest provider of talent in any economy (the staffing industry) and an excellent barometer of the health of Canada’s economy. The index suggests that the slowdown in the demand for talent we saw in Q1, continued into Q2.  Increased demand for staff augmentation resources is often the first sign of recovery, and we are not yet seeing that.

Here at Eagle we have seen significant impact on our Western Canada business however other markets remain fairly steady.  Following a first quarter drop of 30% in orders, we saw a further dip of almost 10% in Q2.  The impact has been almost exclusively in Alberta and Saskatchewan.  While other markets have been fairly stable there has been no offsetting increase in demand.

More Specifically:
cn towerWith more than 6 million people, and the largest number of head offices in Canada, the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is by far Canada’s, and Eagle’s, largest market.  This market accounts for approximately 60% of Eagle’s business which comes from the major industries here, which include the financial, insurance, government and telecommunications sectors.  The retail sector and the construction industry also generate significant demand, in addition to the engineering space.  Despite a technical recession the GTA continues to demand talent.

The Saddledome in CalgaryIn Western Canada Alberta, and more specifically Calgary has taken the brunt of the hit from the drop in oil prices, and it has been a significant hit.  In addition to the hit in oil prices has been the uncertainty of an NDP government coming to power, who have already raised corporate taxes and have an environmental agenda that will impact big oil.  Companies are still evaluating whether their investment dollars should be redirected outside of Alberta!  It remains to be seen whether confidence can be restored to the business sector, and what affect that will have on jobs and the Canadian economy.

Parliament building in OttawaEagle’s Eastern Canada region covers Ottawa, Montreal & the “Maritimes”. Ottawa is essentially a “government market” and as such will rise and fall based on Federal projects and spending.  As an election nears we are seeing the typical slowdown in demand which will continue until well after the election.  Montreal is relatively steady but not booming, with demand coming from the financial sector, the telcos and the construction industry. There will be some impact from the oil price felt particularly in Newfoundland.  This region is typically slower for job creation at the best of times, so I expect it to be even slower than normal until we see an uptick in oil prices

At Eagle our focus in on professional staffing and the people in demand from our clients have been fairly consistent for some time. That would include Program Managers, Project Managers and Business Analysts who always seem to be in demand. It might just be our focus, but Change Management and Organizational Excellence resources are in relatively high demand too. Big data, analytics, CRM and mobile expertise are specializations that we are seeing more and more. On the Finance and Accounting, side we see a consistent need for financial analysts, accountants with designations and public accounting experience plus controllers as a fairly consistent talent request. Technology experts with functional expertise in Health Care is another skill set that sees plenty of demand

Summary:

The first half of 2015 has seen a wide difference in the economies of the East versus the West.  The West has suffered through the predictable fallout from a dropping price of a barrel of oil, the East has continued somewhat unabated.  The general consensus appears to be that oil prices will not recover to their recent highs, and will not increase significantly in the near term.  This outlook has companies taking a conservative approach to investment and growth plans.  The impact in Calgary has been most significant, and now we are seeing impact on other markets, including Edmonton and Saskatchewan, which was expected.

The other big verticals such as Financial, Insurance, Telecommunications and Construction have not been greatly affected by the price of oil. Demand for talent appears to be strong and we are seeing these sectors benefit from newly available talent, previously employed in the oil sector.

The recent lowering of the overnight interest rate was a sign that the Feds want to get the economy moving again.  With a Fall election coming they will hope things will improve, although the signs are that we are unlikely to see a much improved economy in the near term.

Despite the current crunch, we expect continued skills shortages in our knowledge economy, partly fueled by the boomers retiring, but also caused by our education system not turning out the right skill sets and the advancements in technology creating a shortage as the skills catch up.

The unemployment rate at 6.8% is not great but it is also not terrible.  Professionals are probably seeing an unemployment rate more like 4%, so companies are still having trouble finding the right talent, at the right time for the right price!

That was my quarterly look at the Canadian job market and some of its influences.

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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