The puck stops here

On a cold night not too long ago, Canada gave out a cheer. Both of our hockey teams had gone for Olympic gold and captured it – and our hearts – with amazing style.

People who don’t even really enjoy hockey were screaming, cheering and singing in the streets. ” O Canada, way to go.” What a wonderful feeling.

But, I have to wonder where that pride is when the televisions are turned off. Where is that national spirit? Why do we tend to turn away from our other causes for cheer?

I am speaking now to the tech industry. Canada has an awesome force here. Time and time again we hear surveys that suggest this is the best country in which to do business.

I was speaking with someone from New Zealand recently (a place I consider to be leading in technology adoption, from wireless to infrastructure solutions). She said that Canada feels like New Zealand to her. We both have a highly developed debit system, a day-to-day life in which technology plays a large part and we are both working toward a true wireless infrastructure. Both countries have governments dedicated to making services available online. New Zealand is also similar to us in that it is overshadowed by a larger, more famous neighbour.

Unfortunately, time and time again we also hear about how far behind Canada is in the industry. Sure, we implement security, but it is not to the level of our partners to the south. I don’t really find this surprising, especially if one compares their emphasis on defence and military to ours.

Our CRM, ERP and SCM just have not been implemented to the degree people would like to see. But ,fear not, I continually am assured these markets are about to explode here.

Well, bully for them.

In point of fact, we are leaders in many sectors, including long-distance learning, video streaming, graphics and packet switching.

We pretty much invented packet switches, not to mention coining the phrase GIS (geographic information system). Our telco implementations are the envy of many. We are at the forefront of technology.

Yes, our dollar is weak – when compared to the U.S. – but on a global level, we are doing well. This is a tough time for economies worldwide, but Canada has managed to keep its head above water.

Yes, my home and native land has some work to do. An innovation fund is a nice start, but let’s see some funding for new economy businesses. Where is all the venture capital? Our government needs to incubate this part of the industry.

More and more U.S. companies are outsourcing to Canada, taking advantage of our low-cost dollar while the getting’s good. As the business world continues to play on a global stage, Canada can continue to lead.

We also need to support and bolster our greatest achievement: our human resources. The fact is, people can make more money in the States (mind you, the cost of living is higher there too). So why stay here? National pride aside, this country is not offering its brains much reason not to drain. A recent TechStrategy report concluded that Canadian youth adopt Internet-based technologies faster than their international peers.

Will our tech-savvy youth grow into a compelling workforce for our country, or for someone else’s?

What have they got that we don’t? Salary – so, if we can’t compete there, we must make the corporate climate too attractive for tech workers to turn their backs on. Focus on training, flexible hours, benefits and other side perks.

Does Canada have a lot of work to do? Yes, of course it does. It always will. Are we playing a constant game of catch up? I think in some areas we are, but the focus has to be on the other sectors, where we are – and always should be – leaders.

Continue to go for gold Canada, in every way and in every place. I will cheer and scream and sing in the streets.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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