Meet the finalists: Canada

The Quest for Canada’s Smartest IT, an initiative launched by Info-Tech Research Group Ltd., is meant to recognize and celebrate the great work that IT pros do to support the business.


“The only time IT people hear from their boss or the business people is when things aren’t going right,” said James Alexander, senior vice-president with the London, Ont.-based research firm and the chief enthusiasm officer for the Quest.


“We recognize there are a lot of great things being done by IT that doesn’t get celebrated out there in the world,” said Alexander.


While IT pros are making strides at turning IT operations into more cost-effective and efficient organizational units, Alexander said IT pros are also accomplishing much more. “Many times they are using IT to change the business or to change the community in which they operate, and the best of them are using IT to change the world,” said Alexander.


Since May, IT pros have been nominated or have nominated themselves for one of two categories: Smartest IT or Greenest IT. About 100 nominations were received and whittled down to 10 finalists.

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The Smartest IT finalists are: The Hospital for Sick Children, I Love Rewards, Blue Mountain Resorts, Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, Pembina Trails School Division, and Stikeman Elliott LLP.


The Greenest IT finalists are: Atum, Earth Rangers, Empower Software, and Professional Engineers Ontario.


Here’s a snapshot of the smart and green IT initiatives these finalists have undertaken:


IT service provider Toronto-based Atum Corp. has turned its business green by adopting virtualization to replace legacy power-hungry hardware, implementing a wasteful materials policy, and participating in recycling and cleanup programs in the office building.


Vancouver-based Empower Software Solutions Inc. not only designs and sells energy conservation software, but has set and passed an internal target to lower energy consumption by 20 per cent. All employees take public transport or ride a bicycle to work, and nobody subscribes or partakes in print publications or advertisements.


Calgary-based Earth Rangers has built a data centre to demonstrate that adopting green products and services doesn’t mean sacrificing IT performance. The non-profit organization that teaches environmental messages to youth hopes to inspire businesses to adopt a green approach as well.


Professional Engineers Ontario weaves sustainability into every aspect of the association, including outsourcing and consolidating servers from 37 to 12, replacing 104 inkjet printers with just a handful of energy efficient laser and multifunction printers, and retrofitting an older building to achieve LEED certification.


Collingwood, Ont.-based Blue Mountain Resorts has adopted virtualization to support the many apps across the organization, and invested in business intelligence software to manage and reap value from fragmented data.


Mississauga, Ont.-based Dufferin-Peel CDSB developed an in-house IT asset and inventory management system, adopted a centralized data storage model, implemented VoIP between all fibre-connected sites in the school board, and formed an ICT Governance Committee to manage IT projects.


I Love Rewards’s software-as-a-service offering relies on a cloud infrastructure that allows the company to grow and shrink production footprint as per customer demand. It also has a system to log, track and manage user IT issues in a proactive and efficient manner.


Winnipeg-based Pembina Trails School Division’s green initiatives include a fibre optic WAN installation, unified communications, and refreshing hardware equipment such as introducing LCD screens and colour-laser printers.


Toronto-based law firm Stikeman Elliott LLP implemented a mobile user management software for BlackBerrys to quickly track and resolve problems that dispersed employees would experiencing on the road. The benefits are cost-savings and reduced stress.


Toronto-based Hospital for Sick Children safeguards the privacy of patients and staff with IT governance, risk and compliance practices for the proper management of data and mobile devices.


Alexander said the message to the IT community is two-fold. First, it’s not all “doom and gloom” out there, so don’t forget to celebrate accomplishments. Second, be encouraged by what peers have successfully done in their own organizations.


Some of the best applicants were those who had pioneered initiatives that really got IT involved on the business side of the organization, said Joel Martin, program lead for Quest for Canada’s Smartest IT. By being part of the Quest, those nominees are actively demonstrating how it brought value to the business users, said Martin.


The winners will be announced on June 16 at a gala event in Toronto. Stay tuned for coverage of the winners.


Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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