Only one cause could bring Canada’s CIOs and vendors together like this

If Canadian companies won’t spend more on IT, the country’s CIOs, vendors and labour market experts are prepared to make a collective business case.

The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), CATAAlliance and the CIO Association of Canada (CIOCAN) announced late last week that they will be publishing a “digital adoption manifesto” next month that explains the key drivers for technologies such as cloud computing and mobility. By November, the consortium hopes to launch an online “learning hub” showcasing Canadian companies with success  stories based on how they use these technologies.

namir_ananiICTC president and CEO Namir Anani told CanadianCIO the three organizations are acting in concert because small and medium-sized enterprises, which make up much of the Canadian economy, aren’t keeping up pace with their larger counterparts in how they make use of IT. Even enterprise adoption of transformative IT can still be an uphill battle.

“The C-Suite has to be engaged in a digital conversation,” he said. “We’re helping the CIOs move that debate from the back office to the boardroom, and move the debate from a technology base to one based on business value. In this economy, if you’re a business leader from the banking sector or the health sector (and) you can’t articulate the benefit in improving competitiveness in this arena, it doesn’t bode well for the organization.”

Of course, if CIOs aren’t able to get the green light for IT dollars on their own, it’s hard to imagine CEOs paying much attention to an industry-created digital manifesto. However Anani pointed out that 75 percent of Canadian businesses have less than 10 employees. That probably means they also don’t have a CIO, and so this campaign by the association is an attempt to provide some education — and maybe a little inspiration. That’s why involving CIOCAN was particularly important, he added.

“They’re most knowledgable part of the organization in terms of technology and business impact,” he said. “For all the catalysts — how to upskill the talent, for example — they’re the ones who have that leadership role . . . It is a leadership skill that has to be understood.”

Anani first mentioned the digital manifesto at the CIOCAN Peer Forum last month, which celebrated the organization’s 10th anniversary with a theme of “action is eloquence: creating value from innovation.” The keynote speaker, Adgetec Corp. CEO Prof. Mark Mueller-Eberstein, suggested that if they want to be more influential, CIOs need to rethink their focus of maximizing efficiency to maximizing options for organizations, employees, and other stakeholders in the way work is done.

“It’s understanding the difference between a mission and a vision. A mission describes the purpose of an organization. A vision is what you want to become,” he said.

ICTC, CIOCAN and CATA all seem to know their mission in 2014. We’ll soon find out if they’re equally eloquent about their vision for Canadian IT.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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