Next month the CIO Association of Canada is organizing the CIO Exchange, an event joining the conversation about the changing role of the CIO. It is all about the evolving meaning of the “I” in the “CIO” title, thus the event's title “From Information to Innovation”.

Why Innovation?

This may come as a surprise to some, but there is increasing concern about Canadian productivity compared with other industrialized nations. From third position in the OECD countries in 1960 Canada's productivity level has dropped to 15th among the original OECD members and 17th out of the overall 30. Canada also ranks third last in productivity growth since 1980. In the last decade productivity growth in Canada averaged 1% compared with 2.5% for the USA. The increasing productivity gap has serious socio-economic consequences impacting our living standards directly.

The lagging productivity growth is linked, among other things, to a low level of innovation, which in turn can be linked to low R&D intensity (Canada stands 16th here!), investments in technological and human infrastructure, and the way we do things in our organizations. Change that creates value addressing the productivity gap whether scientific, technological, process, business model, or social innovation, falls within the broad definition of innovation. This perhaps explains the recent rise of innovation as a subject, trend, and buzzword across many disciplines and lines of business.

Why the CIO?

The role of Chief Information Officer has gone through radical changes in the past few decades. From the original custodian of IT (and later ICT), it evolved next to aligning technology with business goals and became one of the standard lines of business in organizations. But as technology became pervasive across all lines of business, the perspective of the CIO flipped from a vertical departmental one to a horizontal enterprise-wide one. The CIO became (willingly or not) the one with the most complete view of the structure and processes of the organization and the prime candidate to initiate systemic change across the traditional silos. As awareness of this change spread out in the market place, everybody came after the CIO: equipment and software vendors, management and organizational change consultants, recruiters and HR firms etc. At the intersection of strong internal and external pressures for change, the CIOs are facing a new challenge that prior experience and education did not prepare them for.

The CIO Exchange

Faced with this challenge the CIO community is responding by organizing intense learning from leaders in this space and exchanging ideas and experiences with peers. Hence the CIO Exchange, in which various perspectives of innovation:

  • The communication of innovation
  • The psychology of innovation
  • The leadership of innovation
  • The economics of innovation
  • The culture of innovation
  • The future of innovation

will be explored with presentations by select experts and discussions among peers in breakout groups.

The event is scheduled for September 14, 2010. Details can be found here.

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