Digital Transformation Week 2021 – Day 2 recap

Day 2 of Digital Transformation Week zeroed in on artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, and quantum computing. 

The opening presentation “AI and analytics powering HR transformation” was delivered by Chris Mullen, executive director of the Workforce Institute, UKG. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we work and trust in the workplace has been emerging as one of the most popular topics since the beginning of these trying times. Shedding light on the topic, Mullen discussed how workplace trust relates to AI and how AI and data analytics as part of the HR technology stack can increase trust and take things off of people’s plates in real-time.

Chris Mullen, executive director of the Workforce Institute, UKG, shedding light on how workplace trust relates to AI

Advanced analytics, people-inspired AI, such as natural language processing can help organizations operate, manage their workforce more effectively and efficiently, thereby powering HR transformation, says Mullen.

How to make your AI project a success

Moving forward, managing director of Techstars Montreal AI accelerator Bruno Morency presented three keys to successful AI implementation based on his 20 years of experience working with hundreds of organizations: One – start small, two – leverage external expertise, and three – ensure transparent communication. 

Managing director of Techstars Montreal AI accelerator Bruno Morency presenting three keys to successful AI implementation

“AI is already having profound impacts in some industries, it has the potential to deeply transform the way pretty much all organizations work. Depending on how you look at it, it’s either a big risk, or a massive opportunity. You can even think both at the same time,” says Morency. “When organizations are faced with something like this, they feel compelled to come up with a comprehensive and ambitious corporate strategy for it.”

Morency’s advice to all these organizations is to resist that temptation to plan and roll out a big organization-wide AI transformation. “Instead, start small. Find one project to get your feet wet and work from there.” 

Quantum technology: the future is already on its way

A panel of quantum experts later carried out an intriguing discussion on a topic of growing interest: practical application for quantum computing – the tech of tomorrow.   

There is a lot of talk in the tech community about quantum computing. Although everyone agrees that it’s powerful, there is less clarity on how impactful it is going to be and what the timeframe for that impact might be. Quantum computing has aroused great interest around the world and several countries are exploring this technology; Canada is at the forefront of quantum R&D. The government of Canada recently launched the national quantum strategy to amplify Canada’s significant strength in quantum research; grow Canada’s quantum-ready technologies, companies, and talent; and solidify Canada’s global leadership in this area. 

Moreover, a recent report by tech analyst IDC suggested that investments in quantum computing are on the rise. More companies are expected to dedicate 20 per cent of their IT spend to quantum computing by 2023.

Panellists Christian Weedbrook, chief executive officer of Canadian quantum technology company Xanadu; Timothy Hirzel, chief Orquestra Evangelist at Zapata Computing; and Bob Sutor, chief quantum executive at IBM, offered their thoughts on why businesses should be preparing right now for the impact of quantum computing. They also discussed how a hybrid approach to solving business problems (a mix of classical, and quantum as well as others) can prove to be most effective. 

Hit! Not miss: AI-driven decisioning and investigation

Lastly, Ronald Christopher, senior solutions architect with SAS, talked about identifying market opportunities and activities hidden deep within big data and avoiding costly mistakes like missing critical fraud signals, which are among some of the key challenges facing many organizations today.

Platform-based intelligence, augmented with reinforced learning systems, can help organizations solve these tricky problems, says Christopher.

He highlighted seven elements that he says can help organizations navigate through to hit opportunities rather than missing them when they are employing AI-driven decisioning and investigation – real-time entity and network generation; data integration using advanced analytics or artificial intelligence; creating data search and discovery; visual modelling; model training; AI-driven decisioning; and artificial intelligence of things. 

Day 2 of ITWC’s Digital Transformation Week was dedicated to navigating these complicated waters and highlighting some real-life applications of AI, data analytics, and quantum computing in business.

And the winners were announced…

Two awards were presented Wednesday: Digital Transformation Award in the Large Public Sector category, and Digital Transformation Award in the Large Private Sector category.

Mackenzie Health took home the 2021 award in the Large Public Sector division. Mackenzie partnered with Compugen to build digital infrastructure for Canada’s first smart hospital. The Cortelucci Vaughan Hospital in Vaughan, Ont. features more than 6,500 sensors to securely track patient movement, 700 connected iPhones to enable real-time patient notifications, and thousands of edge devices to capture patient data.

Bruce Power bagged the 2021 award in the Large Private Sector division. As Canada’s only private sector nuclear power generator, Bruce Power annually produces 30 per cent of Ontario’s power. Facing an end-of-life scenario in 2015, it secured approval to continue until 2064 – but was still running things from a 20-year-old enterprise asset management system. With help from IBM Maximo and Shiny Docs, Bruce Power used analytics and cognitive tools to condense 15 million disparate documents into three million with actual business value.


Innovation leaders lauded at Digital Transformation Awards

A glimpse of Day 3

Here are a few questions that Day 3 of the Digital Transformation Week, Digital Transformation From The CIO Perspective, will answer:

  • What are CIOs thinking?
  • What’s their approach to keeping the DX momentum of the last 16-months? 

The CIO of the Year Awards in co-operation with the CIO Association of Canada will also be presented during the event today. Register now to tune into the upcoming sessions!

Missed Day 1? We got you covered!

The opening session of the Digital Transformation Week conference shed light on the transforming workplace with best practice tips on issues ranging from hybrid work to emerging security challenges.

Find out about what was discussed in some sessions from Day 1 here:

Opportunities and challenges in the future work world

Overcoming the barriers to digital transformation


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Pragya Sehgal
Pragya Sehgal
Born and raised in the capital city of India - Delhi - bounded by the river Yamuna on the west, Pragya has climbed the Himalayas, and survived medical professional stream in high school without becoming a patient or a doctor. Pragya now makes her home in Canada with her husband - a digital/online marketing fanatic who also loves to prepare delicious meals for her. When she isn’t working or writing around tech, she’s probably watching art films on Netflix, or wondering whether she should cut her hair short or not. Can be contacted at [email protected] or 647.695.3494.

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