IT user group to marry with vendors through merger

A new merger between an Ottawa-based user group and a national technology trade association is being described by one industry analyst as a way to bring the user community together with vendors in a common forum.

By uniting the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) and the Society of Collaborative Opportunities and Advancement of Professionals (SCOAP), vendors will have an open dialogue with the users and vice versa, said Peter Cleveland, office managing partner with Ernst & Young in Ottawa.

This means that vendors can learn how efficient their products are from the users directly and at the same time it’s also an opportunity for users to influence future iterations of existing products by telling the vendors what they think of the products, he explained.

SCOAP, a professional group that has been representing about 6,000 users in the national capital region since 1981, has primarily focused on opening dialogue about issues related to the use, management and impact of IT on individuals within the technology sector, said Andrew Moffat, president and CEO of SCOAP.

“At some point you have to ask yourself, if you’re not growing and not getting better, then what are you doing?” he said. “CATA will breathe new life into SCOAP.”

CATA is an alliance of Canadian high-tech companies that also acts as a business development association.

By merging with CATA, Moffat said one of SCOAP’s short-term goals is to replicate the SCOAP format in other communities in Canada.

The merger brings two major benefits to SCOAP, Moffat explained. First, for a group of non-profit volunteers, he said it’s a way to establish into a national infrastructure and be able to penetrate into other communities. At the same time, it’s a way for SCOAP to extend its reach into the private sector.

Until the merger, Moffat said that about 70 per cent of the SCOAP membership had been in the public sector.

John Reid, CATA president, said the merger presents a strong business case for his group.

High-tech companies are interested in SCOAP, Reid explained, because they want to understand the behaviour of end users. “We think the high-tech business association of the future basically has to be built on this dynamic of producers and end users working together,” Reid said.

SCOAP also brings insight into what has been happening with the government as a buyer, as well providing a methodology and evaluation model for the Government Technology Exhibition and Conference (GTEC) awards. The GTEC award program will continue and will expand as a result of the merger and will penetrate into the private sector more, Moffat said.

SCOAP will have two co-chairs, representing both the private and the public sectors. Moffat is currently a member of the CATA board of directors and Gregory Evanik, SCOAP co-chair, will also join the CATA board. Under the agreement, SCOAP will integrate its operations with CATA and move its office to the CATA headquarters in Ottawa. SCOAP will remain an independent division of CATA.

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