Editorial Viewpoint: And so it begins…

It’s been a long time coming. The roster of Canadian IT executive conferences has been painfully thin at best, and a great deal of the content presented at them has been of the ‘talking heads’ variety. With due respect to those talking heads – and many of them have some pretty interesting things to say – what has long been needed in this country is a well-facilitated CIO forum designed to promote the exchange of opinions, stimulate and cross-pollinate ideas, build personal networks, and contribute to the CIO’s ability to tackle the critical issues of the future.

That’s what the recent CIO 100 Assembly in Niagara Falls stepped up to the plate to do, and it proceeded to hit one out of the park.

I’ve got to say, I’ve been attending CIO conferences for over a dozen years, but I’ve never been to one that generated the buzz that this one did. And I’m by no means alone in this opinion. In fact, the feeling seemed to be unanimous.

As Helen Polatajko, CIO of CIBC Mellon, put it, “It was outstanding; I’m looking forward to many more. It was right on topic. There were a lot of tangible items that we can walk away with; nothing airy-fairy – just things that we could really sink our teeth in. It absolutely rallies everyone around the same ideas.”

Added BetCorp. CTO, Roy Bernhard, “The conference was excellent. The pace was perfectly in line with what we’re used to in the office – it was fast: next, next, next, next! So it stayed interesting. That’s why nobody walked out to get their Blackberries.”

And finally Loren Hicks, CIO of Lavalife, “My hope for the event was that many CIOs would show up, see that there is something that you can learn from other CIOs, and something that you can contribute to building a community that’s going to be important for you, your organization, and for Canada. If that was the objective, I think it was reached. Pretty much all of the CIOs I spoke with had a real eye-opener. They saw a lot of things that they had not seen before, and they thought about a lot of things that they hadn’t thought about before. They’ve come away changed.”

CIOs in Canada still have a long way to go in galvanizing themselves into a strong, unified and mutually supportive community. The CIO Executive Council has gotten the ball rolling, and the inaugural CIO 100 Assembly has proved an important next step. With your participation, the course will be well and truly laid.