Behind the headlines of Ottawa's top business stories

In this Behind the Headlines podcast episode, OBJ publisher Michael Curran speaks with OBJ editors David Sali and Peter Kovessy about some of the week’s biggest stories and how Ottawa’s business community is overcoming the challenges associated with COVID-19.

This is an edited transcript of the panel discussion. To hear the full interview, please watch the video above. Prefer an audio version of this podcast? Listen to it on SoundCloud or Spotify

CURRAN: Dave, Kinaxis made a big transaction this week. Can you tell us about that deal?

SALI: If you want to talk about companies that are thriving during the pandemic, Kinaxis is definitely one of them. Kinaxis uses big-data analytics to help companies manage their supply chains. This week they made a big jump into a new vertical they haven’t been in yet: Retail. 

They paid US$60 million for a Toronto company called Rubikloud, which uses machine learning technology to help large-scale retailers such as supermarkets and household goods sellers to make sure they have enough inventory to keep their shelves stocked. CEO John Sicard told me he’s really pumped up about this deal and the potential of this market. He says retail could end up being a bigger component than all six of the company’s existing verticals combined.

CURRAN: Peter, we heard about another Kanata company this week who is making some new plans for their office space. What’s happening there?

KOVESSY: Syntronic is a Swedish technology design firm that has been growing in a big way in Kanata recently. A year ago it was approaching 300 employees, and it had grown to about 50,000 square feet across two locations in Kanata and really had its sights set on expanding to nearly 500 local employees. However, COVID-19 is really affecting those plans, and now it’s looking to sublease up to 40 per cent of its space in Kanata amid a hiring freeze. This is one of the first concrete examples we’re seeing of the longer-term impact that COVID-19 could have on the economy, particularly in the tech sector. 

CURRAN: Dave, can you tell us about the digital agency Iversoft and how they are sharpening their business approach?

SALI: Six months ago the company was on track to expand its customer base and its service offerings. It had an in-house marketing arm that was on track to make it a one-stop shop digital agency – the team would help you develop your app and then promote it on social media. 

Since the pandemic hit, they’ve spun off the digital marketing arm, which will now allow them to focus on what they do best: web and app development. The company is also looking at getting rid of its office space. It has a 12,000-square-foot office in Overbrook, and the founders are taking a look at implementing a completely remote work strategy.