Canada at an Innovation Crossroad?

Howdy from the Great White North where we’ve just wrapped up our annual CIO Canada Summit in beautiful Montreal. We make it a habit to start our year north of the border and this year was no different. The Ritz Carlton Montreal played host to us, and we played host to some of the best and brightest from our neighbors to the north. It is an absolutely fabulous hotel and if you ever have the opportunity to go, you really should make the effort. After all, when NHLers are in town, it’s where they stay too.

Some of the bigger names in attendance included Peter Bruce, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister Shared Services from the Government of Canada; Gerry Boyer, CEO for One Million Acts of Innovation Canada; and Chantal Belzile, CIO from the Business Development Bank of Canada. All in all though we were joined by over 40 very passionate and very smart IT executives who came together to meet, and learn, and plan for their and the country’s future. And clearly the future of the country is just as important to the attendees as is the future of their companies.

The theme of the Summit couldn’t have been more clear – from the opening Exclusive CIO Think Tank where two dozen of the attendees joined me in a private conversation about key trends, through two separate Executive Visions Panel discussions, to our closing Summit Chat Wrap, the only thing on everyone’s mind was innovation. It’s safe to say that Canada, once viewed as a world leader in terms of innovation in general, and technology innovation specifically, is feeling the pressure from other global innovators. The situation clearly isn’t all bad – Canada still has a great ecosystem as a innovation “nursery” – growing the seeds of ideas into the saplings of small “i” innovation. The downfall is clearly the ability to keep growing those saplings into giant redwood big “I” innovations that stand visible and proud for all to see. Indeed, too often it seems that the saplings (and the brilliant minds behind them) are snapped up by other innovators and spirited away to finish their growth elsewhere. No matter how many times we discussed the issue, we couldn’t find definitive resolution, but we did work through a number of options. As CDM’s lone Canadian employee, I’m personally interested to see how things play out in the coming years.

No Summit recap would be complete without a big thank you to the partners that help us put on the event. IBM, HP, Rogers, and Equinox (among many, many others) made sure that as our delegates looked for answers to the innovation conundrum, there were options presented to them to deal with the issue in their own shop at least.

So, 2015 is off and rolling. Coming up in March we have a full slate of events, most notably including our big national events – CIO US and CIO Europe – but with plenty of supporting events as well. If you’re interested in attending, take a look at the schedule and give us a call. We’d be happy to see you down on site and to get you involved in anyway that we can.

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