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New & Notable

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Calgary CIOs Share Downturn Coping Strategies

Nowhere has Canada’s lagging economic performance had more of an impact on IT than in the oil patch, where the huge decline in oil prices has led to the slashing of technology budgets. On April 7, 2016, The IT Media Group travelled to Calgary to host the CIO Master Series roundtable “CIO Priorities to Survive and Thrive in Lean Times”, which explored the strategies Alberta IT leaders are taking to minimize the effects of this substantial cost-cutting.

Thirteen IT executives, most of them from the oil and gas sector, had a seat at the table for the highly interactive session. John Pickett, IT Media Group VP Executive Programs, moderated the discussion, while Chris Makkreel, Head of Solution Engineering, represented event sponsor Salesforce.

Participants discussed a variety of ways they are dealing with lean times, including improving the quality of information management, and using Business Intelligence, especially as it relates to SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), to identify areas where the business can save money without the need for significant investment.

Other strategies included: decommissioning high-priced applications in favour of moderately priced solutions that will do the basic job, albeit with less functionality; implementing better long-term IT investment strategies through improved governance; cutting back on solutions that require expensive support personnel; and moving away from the cyclical boom-bust IT investment approach that has long been the norm in the oil and gas business.

Whereas oil patch IT organizations have been fairly resistant to general downturns in the Canadian economy, it was evident that this oil-related downturn has hit them hard, the result being rigorous rationalization of IT resources and the abandonment of many millions of dollars worth of IT investments – money that will not be recovered.

The roundtable members agreed, however, that this is but a temporary setback, and that boom times will inevitably return, bringing with them extremely healthy budgets for IT. The challenge, though, will be to learn from this painful and costly episode and to figure out ways to ensure more sustainable and evenly budgeted IT investment in the future. 

The IT Media Group’s CIO Master Series is one of the most successful event programs for IT executives in Canada, bringing together scores of senior level peers for thoughtful private discussions around the top issues facing enterprise IT. For a better understanding of these events please visit our Video section.

The IT Media Group is an award-winning producer of events and content for senior IT executives. Based in Toronto, our leadership team includes some of the most experienced and well respected media, technology and business professionals serving the IT executive community in Canada.

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