A stimulus to innovative thinking

Innovation was at the top of the agenda as IT executives from across Canada gathered at King City north of Toronto in July for the third annual CIO Assembly, produced by CIO Canada in cooperation with the CIO Executive Council.

Keynoter Bill Johnson, former president and CEO of McDonald’s Canada, set the tone for the event, explaining how the fast-food company’s IT capabilities really got on track thanks to the hiring of a proactive IT Director.

“It took a long time for us burger boys to find out what IT was all about,” he said. “That didn’t get resolved until our new IT director came in and talked to me about how IT could better support the company. After that, we had a meeting every month.”

Johnson advised audience members to get interactive with their CEOs and find ways to establish relationships with them.

John Smith, Senior VP and CIO of Canada Post, talked about the role of technology in helping the organization undergo a “postal transformation” that will enable it to compete with electronic services. Said Smith, “The CIO needs to be thinking about doing things in ways in which other people in the organization are not.”

Savino DiPasquale, VP, Information Technology and CIO of GlaxoSmithKline Inc, went a step further. “We should be striving towards more strategic use of information,” he said. “IT organizations have to come forward with an overt innovation agenda.”

“Senior management is looking at us to become leaders of thought change and process change in the business,” added Roman Coba, CIO of McCain Foods Ltd. Coba said that IT strategy should be tightly aligned with business strategy for the upcoming three to five year period.

In order to stimulate innovation and new ideas in his organization, Roy French, CIO of Saint Elizabeth Healthcare, said, “I tell people to put some money aside for skunkworks projects. It really pays dividends in the long run.” French also leverages the knowledge of vendors as much as possible, and he hosts a cyber caf

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