Senior vice-president of IT and CIO Liquor Control Board of Ontario, Toronto, 1992 – present
“It was a pretty archaic shop. There was just a huge number of areas that needed to be automated. We started initially with point-of-sale, then forecasting and replenishment. Most of the stuff we had was custom-built in-house, which was fairly classic for that time. We wanted to buy, rather than build, and acquired external systems. (They’ve) evolved through various technology platforms to a Web-based system and a client-server.
“We still have an IBM mainframe, much to my chagrin; it will probably go into the dumper next year, and take a million dollars out of our operating costs, and not only save us money, but remove a huge risk in terms of our enterprise risk management, because supportability with those systems just isn’t there.
“A custom-built system we have is our (award-winning, Web-based) New Item Submission System. When we go to acquire, we put a call out for products to our agents and suppliers; that whole system used to be paper-based. Now we’ve automated that entire thing so that it’s all online (with) e-mail alerts and Web notifications.
“Our point-of-sale system has an RFID-based wireless back-end, Since we have a social responsibility mandate, we have a challenge-and-refusal sub-system at the cash register — if we think that a person is either underage or intoxicated, as we’re conducting that transaction, we record that. (The recordings are tied to people’s ID), so there’s the whole privacy issue, so we have to encrypt that data and make sure that we protect the privacy of the individuals. We’re also going to be participating in the EMV smart card pilot down in Waterloo next year.”
Working for the president of civil aviation, Saudi Arabia, 1988–1991
“We basically ran all computers for the international and domestic airports in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia…We were running all the administrative systems for the airports so the only thing we weren’t doing was air traffic control.
“When the war happened, we had to close the data centre. We had a data centre up at the airfield at Dhahran, which is the first air base the Brits and the Americans moved into, so we had to move the data centre from there in 24 hours. That was absolute chaos. We were doing it in war-time conditions, and we had to move equipment and people from there down to Jeddah.”
Vice-president of management information systems, Canadian Utilities, Edmonton, 1982–1987
“I was dealing with board members, so that was probably my first exposure to being part of the strategic planning of an organization. One of the reasons why we have been so successful at the LCBO is because I report to the president of the company, so IT is an integral part of the strategic planning process. It’s funny — I hear a lot of my peers talk about alignment between IT and the business strategies and that’s not an issue here at all. The five-year planning process was done along with all my internal clients and users and they said, ‘Here are the business issues that we’re going to be dealing with in the next five years and here’s where we think technology might apply.’”
“We have a lot of point solutions, so one of our major challenges is to consolidate those individual applications; each of them were best-of-breed at the time, but you end up with 20 different applications from 20 suppliers, and you pay a price in terms of maintenance. We’re not looking at big buying, or going with one full-blown ERP system; we want to get down to two or three strategic partners to reduce the total life-cycle costs.”