Digital Transformation Week 2020 – Day 1 recap

ITWC’s annual summer conference has become a week-long affair with four 60-minute sessions. The virtual conference’s first 60-minute session Monday was about digital workspaces and kickstarted by ServiceNow’s Chris Pope, the session couldn’t have been more topical.

But before the global vice-president of innovation got into his live virtual keynote presentation, participants got a chance to pick Pope’s brain about – well, anything really, in one of the virtual breakout rooms.


For four days in July were bringing together national DX thought leaders for one-hour of presentations and discussions. Each day we will focus intently on one aspect of Digital Transformation. Click here for more info!


Neha Misra, global partner manager for General Electric Transportation – a division of Wabtec Company – explained how her team was ditching some legacy tech across their IT, meaning she had to help oversee the migration of 300 plus applications. ServiceNow is the platform in which GE Transportation’s 1,000 servers and linked assets are being set up.

“We’re racing against time,” she said about the migration. “We have deadlines that we have to try and meet.”

Monica Field, the executive director of strategic systems and innovation’s at the Ministry of Corrections and Policing in Saskatchewan, says the past several months have been challenging. But like many other IT leaders present at the virtual conference, she said that time hasn’t been wasted.

“If there was ever a catalyst for change, it’s now,” she told the breakout room participants, hinting at the public sector’s slow-moving digital transformation efforts.

The immediate challenge that was in front of us just a few short months ago. Source: ITWC Digital Transformation Week, ServiceNow keynote.

Pope says the entire playing field has been elevated permanently. Sure, not everyone is on the same level yet, but everyone is aware of what needs to be delivered at the bare minimum when it comes to remote working needs. He also cited recent research from Gartner that says 75 per cent of CIOs expect at least 5 per cent of their workforce to work remotely permanently.

And even as the discussion recently in the corporate world has shifted to how we can safely get back to the office, Pope says it’s never going to be the way it was.

Supply chain issues seriously challenged manufacturing and healthcare industries.

“We have a new office in London. It will never be cleaner than it is now. But there’s no way at this point we’re going to hop on to a crowded train to get there,” he told participants. “My home life has changed slightly, too,” he explained, citing the extra time he gets to spend with his family.

Provisioning equipment for remote workers remains a challenge, and supply chain shortages continue to complicate purchases. Moving forward, the challenges will begin to take form elsewhere, as more and more businesses try to install or enhance e-commerce tools to establish contactless payments. Returning to the brick and mortar store has to be an employee-led decision, Pope emphasized, and that still doesn’t remove the need for an online storefront that not only works, but customers will want to come back to.

Panel: Best practices for working remotely

The day didn’t stop there.  Next up was a panel hosted by Pope featuring:

Jan Bradley, Director and Chief Information Technology Officer, The City of Calgary
Cat Coode, Founder, Binary Tattoo
Paula Allen Senior Vice-President, Research, Analytics and Innovation, Morneau Shepell

Together, they discussed what it took as leaders to get steer the monstrous corporate ship (whether it was a public or private one) towards the waters of the “new normal”.

Bradley says her and her team had to pivot to remote work while the City of Calgary’s economic woes were being amplified by the absence of a booming oil economy on top of the pandemic.

Compliance expert and founder of Binary Tattoo says when she was consulting at firms prior to the pandemic, they wouldn’t believe her when she said she didn’t need to be present in the corporate environment all the time. “They were skeptical of me working from home.” Of course, that conversation is a lot different today. “They now understand there are tools out there that allow you to work remotely effectively.”


And the winner is …

The end of Day 1 was capped off with a presentation of the virtual event’s first award: The Digital Transformation Award for the Large Public Sector Category. The winner was *drum roll* Halton Healthcare! We had a chance to speak with the people behind the hospital’s ongoing digital transformation. Read about it right here:

Digital Transformation Week 2020: DX for Halton Healthcare not a one and done deal 

The finalists for this category were:

  • Saskatchewan Government Insurance
  • City of Brantford
  • Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)
  • City of Toronto
  • Halton Healthcare
  • Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)
  • Defence Construction Canada
  • Toronto Catholic School Board
  • Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

A look ahead to Day 2!

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Alex Coop
Alex Coop
Former Editorial Director for IT World Canada and its sister publications.

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