The Power of 5

Orienteering group - CanadianCIO Summit 2018

IT World Canada hosted the 5th annual CanadianCIO Summit Sept. 29-Oct. 1 in Muskoka, Ont., sponsored by Cogeco Peer 1. Technology leaders from across Canada, in the public and private sectors alike, met to share their learnings on the topics of artificial intelligence, emerging technologies such as blockchain, cloud infrastructure, privacy in a GDPR world, and security. Keeping with the theme, here are five lessons to take away from the weekend’s presentations and panels.

AI isn’t magic it will be a long journey

Opening speaker Stephen Piron, co-founder and co-CEO of Dessa, a Toronto-based startup that helps businesses apply artificial intelligence (AI), pointed out there’s a lot of excitement around AI right now. Realizing the benefits it has to offer may take longer and require more work than we realize. At its present phase of development, “AI research is far more like alchemy than it is like chemistry,” Piron said. “It’s a lot about intuition, about what parameters feel right.”

What is blockchain good for anyway?

Blockchain is good for establishing trust among several organizations that want to transact, said Andrew Boysen, the chief identity officer at Ottawa-based SecureKey. The firm is using the technology – and along with its partner in IBM – is getting ready to launch a digital identity solution that consumers will use to interact with banks, telcos, and government services. What blockchain is not good as is forgetting anything – it’s immutable, which is the whole point of building trust around consensus. So don’t store any personal information there.

Don’t let vendors lead your cloud strategy

Panelists agreed on this topic. “Partner with people that are going to be more vendor neutral and will lead you based on business outcome,” said Marc Pare, chief commercial officer at CloudOps. When Cogeco Peer 1 gets requests from customers to help migrate to a specific cloud, Bertrand Labelle, the company’s vice-president of marketing and innovation says that he starts by asking what they’re trying to achieve. “Then we have a chat about where your workloads should really run.”

Cloud providers are different from other outsourcers

When Fariba Anderson become CEO at AcuteNet several years ago, she drove a strategy to go fully cloud. It followed the model she pursued during her time at Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG). “You don’t outsource when you go cloud,” she said. “You actually bring the capabilities in.” But she cautioned other CIOs at the conference to think carefully about the business model of any cloud provider they were getting involved with. Amazon Web Services is a transactional business, she said. “I was just a number to them.” Eventually, she found the right partner in Cogeco Peer 1.

GDPR may not apply to you, but pay attention anyway

Today’s digital economy is greatly structured around trading our personal information for greater convenience, says Sharon Bauer, senior manager in KPMG’s privacy team. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) may only apply today to businesses dealing with European citizens that are living in Europe, but with Canadian Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien saying GDPR “raises the bar” and asking parliament for more powers, adhering to privacy best practices is a good idea today.


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Brian Jackson
Former editorial director of IT World Canada. Current research director at Info-Tech

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