CIO Exchange marks its first birthday

A year ago this month, about 50 curious IT executives showed up at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel in Toronto to find out more about a new organization — one that offered unique opportunities for members to network with their peers, share best practices, seek solutions to specific problems, and act as a sounding board for fellow members, all in a vendor-free environment.

This was the birth of the CIO Exchange, an organization launched by CIO Canada and IT World Canada as a means of further benefiting readers.

Anniversary celebration

To mark its first year of operation, the CIO Exchange will be having an anniversary luncheon on Wednesday, June 8 at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club in Toronto. A few seats are available for non-members, on a first-come, first-served basis. Keynote speaker will be Eugene Roman, Group President, Bell Systems & Technology. Mr. Roman will talk about the building of BS&T’s high-performance IT organization, described in the cover story of this month’s CIO Canada.

The goal of the CIO Exchange was to be highly responsive to members, allowing them to drive the agenda and determine the content of face-to-face meetings, facilitated conference calls, and online discussions taking place within the organization’s password-protected online community.

As the year progressed, members really did start to drive the agenda. An example of this is the face-to-face events, which have gone through a significant evolution of format. Early face-to-face meetings took the form of a keynote speech, followed by an interactive discussion among the members on the topic presented. Though these events are still kicked off with a keynote, ensuing discussions have become more and more focussed on top-of-mind issues that members are keen to get feedback on.

Many members are using this forum to actively table their most pressing technology and management concerns, looking for advice from others who may have first-hand experience to share. Post-keynote discussions are also becoming a place for members to detail their experiences — both good and bad — with vendors in specific market niches, a definite help for CIOs who want to know who to avoid and who they can get good support from. And finally, members are seizing the opportunity to discuss and debate some of the key broader issues faced by Canadian IT executives.

With the CIO Exchange’s initial teething period behind it, Program Manager Christine Britsas, a former longtime Gartner employee, is keenly looking forward to the upcoming year.

“Our goal is to increase the critical mass of this membership and elevate the knowledge base to the next level,” she said.

The CIO Exchange’s membership has climbed steadily since its inception, and now includes representatives of a wide cross-section of Canadian industry, including the financial sector, the pharmaceutical sector, the consumer products sector, not-for-profit organizations, and government.

“We’ve achieved many of our goals this year,” noted Britsas. “For example, we’ve established a personal concierge service, helping members find the specific information they’re looking for from peers and industry experts. We’ve also built a strong online database of documents, reports and whitepapers.”

Key plans for the upcoming year are to create an advisory board, develop member-driven documents such as case studies and ‘playbooks’, and having members themselves host face-to-face events. Discussions are also underway between the CIO Exchange and CIO Canada to explore ways in which the two organizations might work together to improve the lobbying capabilities of the IT executive community.

“The collective voice of the CIO Exchange could truly impact the technology landscape and effect change within the industry,” said Britsas.

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–Those wishing to learn more about the CIO Exchange should contact CIO Exchange Program Manager, Christine Britsas, at 416 290-0240, or email her at

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