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Strategies, advice and opinions helping to define and develop the role of IT leaders and their staffs.

How to Defeat the Innovation Con Game

I watch an inappropriate amount of television.

Whenever I have free time, I am in front of the TV consuming content. It’s not always streaming, as is the dominate form for my kids, but a variety of content across an array of subscription services. My love of television, established and nurtured as a child and enduring over a lifetime, creates a welcome distraction to the media consumption during my working hours.


Digital Transformation: Creating Magic in Customer Experience

Magic does exist. 

And I’m not just talking about the Vegas style extravaganza and Cirque de Soleil masterpieces. I’m including all magic; from that black & white plastic rabbit picture trick from a birthday magician for hire; to the coordinated team-on-the-street hustling each of my $20 bills with 3-card Monte. It’s all magic. 

Here is what I know:

  • Random audience members do get cut in half with rotating power saws or pierced with steel swords and live to tell about it
  • It is possible to vanish the Statue of Liberty and teleport through the Great Wall of China


A Pragmatic Approach for Securing Enterprise Data and Applications

More than a dozen senior IT executives representing financial services, manufacturing, healthcare, retail, and commercial business gathered in Toronto to discuss their experiences with Securing Data and Applications. The event was produced by The IT Media Group and was sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise.  The dialogue yielded a notable set of common issues that spans industries. This article will describe the key security challenges facing IT executives, what companies are doing to solve them, and a practical approach for enhancing your security framework.


IT Talent Wars Strategic Insights

I recently had the pleasure of attending a roundtable with 13 senior IT executives to talk about “Winning the IT Talent Wars”. The event was produced by The IT Media Group and was sponsored by Salesforce. The discussion focussed on attracting and retaining top talent in today’s challenging environment. The conversations yielded surprising insights that both businesses and IT vendors would do well to heed in the war for talent. In this article, I will summarize the critical factors that define top talent and the calls to action to hire that talent and keep it.


How the Data-driven CIO Enables Digital Transformation

Some people prefer the destination, but I prefer the journey.

 Not really the journey, but the anxiety of the journey. Whether during a detour at Starbucks on the long drive to Disneyworld, reading a chapter in the biography of Walt Disney, or my eighth back-to-back viewing of Monster’s Inc., I’m wondering about the next stop, chapter or sequel and ignoring what’s right in front of me. Maybe that’s why I’m constantly tripping. The anxiety of what I’m missing or what’s next is always pushing me ahead of the now.

 I’m even anxious to get this article done. It has been in my inbox for the last three weeks, with ample time to deliver the content for editing before the publishing deadline. The knowledge of its presence keeps me alt-tabbing to my inbox to see if it has magically been completed.


The Future Revealed – How CIOs Became Extinct

While browsing a junk shop in a dodgy part of St. John’s recently, I happened across a curious object, a fist-sized orb covered in a tracery of peculiar hieroglyphics. I bought it, took it home, and was in the middle of examining it when a remarkable thing happened. The orb suddenly opened and up popped the figure of a tiny chimpanzee, dressed in scholarly robes and puffing meditatively on a pipe.

“Welcome to the Encyclopedia Galactica, ‘Planet Earth, Third Millennium’ Edition. Please state the period and subject matter you are interested in,” said the ape.

Needless to say, I was gobsmacked. Was it possible that I had stumbled upon some future reference work that had somehow found its way back through time to that musty little shop? I was determined to find out.


Approaches to Shadow IT Governance

Shadow IT used to be one of those things that CIOs tried to eradicate or at least keep in check, like some pernicious garden weed. Yes, that still happens, but now shadow IT has reached the point of acceptance in quite a few organizations and in many it is not only tolerated but encouraged.

In a recent blog (Help for CIOs in Coming Out of the IT Shadows), I wrote about the inexorable growth of shadow IT and the fact that some CIOs are embracing it as a means of helping enable business users while taking some of the pressure off the IT department. That’s a ‘good news’ story and it’s happening quite a bit these days. But where a lot of work still needs to be done is in the area of governance.


Help for CIOs in Coming Out of the IT Shadows

With the advent of Cloud computing, shadow IT has become an ever more painful thorn in the side of the IT organization. And the problem isn’t going away; it’s getting worse.

According to a recent survey of CIOs, CFOs and business decision makers in the US and Europe, conducted by Cloud services provider Canopy, spending on shadow IT will grow 20 percent this year. Half the business decision makers polled have already made a strong commitment to shadow IT, spending 5 to 15 percent of their budget on outside IT products and service providers. On average, this amounts to almost $12 million annually per firm.

Many of Canada’s leading CIOs have delved into key issues around Cloud and shadow IT at roundtables held across the country by The IT Media Group. We’ve been surprised to find that a number of CIOs are growing more comfortable with shadow IT and even using it as a means of taking some of the pressure off an already busy IT department.


CIOs as marketers? Why it’s now more critical than ever

While doing research for The IT Media Group’s Strategic Insights Report, Marketing IT to the Business: Successful CIOs Share Best Practices, I spoke to many IT executives about their approach to gaining trust, confidence and buy-in of IT initiatives and practices from the executive team and users.

There’s an even more pressing need for CIOs to successfully ‘market’ their IT organizations now than there was two years ago, when I wrote the report. Why? Two key reasons:

1. Shadow IT continues to grow at a rapid clip, bringing with it poorly integrated systems, lack of due diligence, security issues, hidden costs, long-term sustainability issues, incompatibility with IT strategy, the creation of siloed departments, and the list goes on.


Five Security Insights from our CIO Breakfast Series

Over the past 14 months, The IT Media Group has hosted a series of roundtables and Strategic Insights sessions focussed on IT security. These sessions produced a wealth of information and ideas, provided by the many CIOs, CISOs and security experts who took part.

Here are five examples of that collected wisdom:

Gaining User Buy-in: Organizations are facing multiple challenges when it comes to gaining user buy-in for good security practices. Security measures need to be as invisible as possible to end users; if workflow is impeded, users will often fail to comply with proper security procedures. Whenever possible, security should be built in at the beginning of application development, rather than being ‘bolted on’ later, resulting in extra steps on the part of users. [see video Supporting Users]


CIOs Need Alternatives

During a pressure-packed situation aboard the retrofitted USS Enterprise in Star Trek: the Motion Picture, Commander Decker explained to Admiral Kirk, “It's my duty to point out alternatives.” Allow me to do the same with you.

Sure, it’s pretty easy to maintain the status quo when you hold all the cards, when you can make all the decisions. If I were in your shoes, I would focus on command and control too – house all my applications and workloads in a data centre that I maintain personally, mostly in a traditional row by row, discipline by discipline architecture while dipping my toe in workload-specific private Clouds. I might even try appliance or converged deployments, as long as I could touch and feel them.


Three Resolutions for the Pragmatic CIO

It’s still early enough in the new year to make some resolutions, if you haven’t already done so. Your personal resolutions are your own business, so I’m not going to encourage you to go on a butt-reduction regime – either ciggies or posterior.

As I’ve been closely connected to the CIO community for two decades, I can, however, advise on your workplace resolutions. Here are a few that are guaranteed to make your life as a CIO happier, healthier, or a little less onerous.

Resolution 1: Make Succession Planning a Priority

You know in your heart of hearts that there’s no one inside or outside of the company that can do the job of CIO as well as you. Still, you owe it to the company to prepare it for your departure. Of course, how you prepare it depends on how they’ve treated you over the years.


Key Conversations for IT Executives

2014 was a great year for The IT Media Group – our best ever – and that means it was also a banner year for Canadian IT executives when it came to sharing best practices, expanding personal networks and gaining insights from world-class experts in their field.

A wealth of content came out of our many events across Canada, much of which is available on the ITMG web site in written form in our Events section and video form in our Video section. I highly recommend spending some time in both of these sections, where you will find peer-generated content on a wide variety of topics including: Cloud, Big Data, innovation, security, mobility, governance, BYOD, social media, working with the business, and the list goes on.

As we close the year, allow me to point you to a few conversations from our 2014 events that particularly resonated with us and with the IT executives who attended these sessions. They should give you plenty of food for thought for the coming year.


The Greatest CIO Interview of All Time

Most interesting CIO





He fixed a catastrophic mainframe failure with the pointy end of a rat-tail comb.

He refereed an arm-wrestling contest between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

He was a moustache double for Tom Selleck during season four of Magnum PI.

He correctly texted the Declaration of Independence while running with the bulls at Pamplona.

He is… “The Most Interesting CIO in the World”.

It is doubtful that there is anyone in IT today who is not familiar with the exploits, accomplishments, intrigues and affaires of The Most Interesting CIO in the World. His brash – some would say swashbuckling – approach to IT management, as technology head of three of the world’s leading organizations, is the stuff of legend.


Important CIO conversations for 2014

As changes to enterprise IT tend to be more evolutionary than revolutionary, we don’t expect 2014 to be radically different than last year for CIOs. But there are some areas that we believe will garner more attention, and that CIOs should pay close attention to. Here’s our take on some important CIO conversations for 2014:

The security conversation. The data breach at Target, the U.S.’s third largest retailer, in late November/early December of 2013, resulting in the exposure of up to 40 million customer credit and debit card numbers, will be a wake-up call for C-suite executives across North America and around the world.To date, this is the most visible data breach we’ve seen, and its impact was immediate, resulting in a drop of three to four percent in the number of transactions at Target on the final weekend before Christmas, according to Bloomberg. As well, Target shares fell three percent in the weeks following the breach. And at time of writing, there was talk of a customer class-action suit being launched against Target as well.


Not another poke in the ‘I’ for the CIO

There’s an epidemic of proposals for a change in the CIO title that’s driving me nuts. Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Integration Officer, Chief Interaction Officer and others, all intended to place a different emphasis on the mandate of IT leadership.

I understand that in using different meanings of the ‘I’ in CIO, pundits are using it to make their point that CIOs should now focus on Innovation or Interaction or whatever bandwagon they’ve jumped on. Indeed, there are legitimate arguments to be made for each, but they are all so narrowly focused that they ignore a broad range of IT leadership responsibilities of equal importance.


Message to management: stop snubbing your CIO

I’ve come to know a great many CIOs over the 20-odd years that I’ve been writing content for the IT executive community in Canada. And quite often when I’m on a company’s web site I’ll check the management team section to find out who the CIO is and whether or not it’s someone I know.

And it’s a source of continual amazement to me how often CIOs are left off the management team list. Doesn’t seem to matter what type of business it is – all industries are more or less equal offenders when it comes to snubbing their CIOs. Try doing a straw poll of company web sites yourself and see what I mean. You’ll probably find that around half the companies you visit have an invisible CIO.


Stop poking the CIO in the I

Pity the poor CIO. Seems like every time you turn around, somebody’s trying to poke his or her ‘I’ out.

The once venerable title Chief Information Officer is now passé – no longer suitable, according to the pundits. These days it’s all about innovation; it must be Chief Innovation Officer. Or it’s all about intelligence; it must be Chief Intelligence Officer. I’ve even heard Chief Imagination Officer, which should only be allowed if you work for The Walt Disney Company.

My Concise Oxford Dictionary has 46 pages of I’s, so this could go on forever.

In order to save us a little time, allow me to cut to the chase and offer up the best new titles for CIO that are likely to emerge over the next decade or so. That way we can play with them now, quickly grow tired of them, and get back to good old Chief Information Officer.

For fun, see which of the following titles fits you best.


The lottery plan for IT organizations

If I won the lottery, I would move my entire family to Disney World, permanently. My plan is simple: give away and sell all my worldly possessions, from my socks to my house, and recreate a new life in the happiest place on earth.

I would prepay for decades of a complete vacation package in a Magic Kingdom view resort room, with a connected room for the kids. For transportation, WDW would provide busses, boats, and monorails to any location, all included. For food, the included deluxe dining plan would offer me three meals and two snacks per day in hundreds of locations in the 40+ square mile district. I think the entertainment is obvious, however I would likely get the platinum package with park hopper and waterparks to maximize the number options in any one day. For clothing, well, onsite merchandising is unprecedented.


CIO Careers: The power of personal connection

Career networkingA couple of weeks ago, a CIO and long-time friend of mine sent me an email, letting me know that he’s looking to change jobs after 15 years with the same firm. He knew that I was well connected with the CIO community in Canada and hoped I might be able to help him with his job search.

Good call on his part. As it turned out, I did know of a couple of IT executives on the move and was able to broker a meeting between my friend and one of those departing CIOs. As for the other, his job had already been filled internally.

My friend just emailed to tell me the meeting went great and thanking me for putting him in touch with “an excellent resource and even better person”. Knowing my friend, I’m sure the meeting was mutually beneficial.


Past Attendees

ADP - VP Architecture & Infrastructure

AESO - VP, Information Technology

Agnico Eagle Mines - VP, IT

Agrium - Global Mgr., IT Security

Agrium - Senior Director IT Shared Services

Aimia - SVP & Global CIO

Ainsworth Engineered - Director IT

Air Canada Vacations - Director IT

Alberta Energy Regulator - Director, Office of the CIO

Anthem Properties - VP IS

AON Risk Solutions Canada - Head of IT

Aviva Canada - VP, Architecture & Strategy

Bank of America Merrill Lynch - CTO

BC Ferry Services - VP & CIO

Bell Business Markets - Director, Strategy & Planning

Bell Canada - National Director, Digital Transformation

Bellatrix Exploration - Director, Information Technology

Bentall Kennedy - VP IT

Black Press - CTO

BlackBerry - VP Corporate IT

BMO Financial Group - Head of Services Delivery

Bombardier Aerospace - CISO

Bonavista Petroleum - Head of IT

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP - Global CIO

Bow Valley College - Director, IT Services

Bridgewater Bank - Head of IT

BuildDirect - VP IT

Bulk Barn - Head, IT

Burnco - CIO

Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec - VP, IT Planning, Architecture, Governance, Operations

Calfrac Well Services - Head of IT

Canada Mortgage and Housing - VP, Information & Technology

Canadian Depository for Securities - CIO

Canadian Direct Insurance - CTO

Canadian Payments Association - VP & CIO

Canucks Sports - Head of IT

Capgemini - Service Delivery Director


Cardel Homes - VP MIS

Cargojet - CIO

CCS Corp. - VP IT

CDSPI - Board Director

Centerra Gold - Director IT & Comm

CIBC - Senior Director, Infrastructure Planning & Engineering

CIBC - SVP & CIO, Retail and Business Banking Technology

CIBC Mellon - AVP, Enterprise Architecture

CIBC Mellon - SVP & CIO

Cineplex Entertainment - CTO

City of Brampton - Senior Manager, IT Architecture & Planning

City of Richmond Hill - CIO

City of Toronto - Director of Strategic Planning & Architecture

CN Rail Service - Chief Information Security Officer

Coast Capital Savings - VP Technology

Concordia University - AVP & CIO

Crescent Point Energy - Head of IT

Dairy Farmers of Ontario - Head of IT and Administration

Dale Parizeau Morris Mackenzie - VP, IT

Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP - Director, Information Technology

DealerTrack Canada - Director, Technology

Defence Construction Canada - Corporate Manager, IT

Deloitte - Director, Risk Advisory

Dentons - Canada CIO

Devon Energy - Director, Integrated Business Services

Direct Cash - VP IT & Security

Dynamic Tire Corp - CIO

D+H Partnership - VP, Head of Canadian Mortgage Technology

eHealth - EVP, Technology

eHealth Ontario - VP, IT Systems & Services

Encana - Director, InfoSec

Enbridge Inc. - VP, Technology and Information Services

Enerflex - CIO

Enerplus - VP. IS


Equity Financial Trust - VP, IT

Essential Energy Services - Director, IT

Expedia Cruise Ship Centers - VP IS

FGL Sports - VP, Information Technology

Finastra - SVP, Head Technology Managed Services

Fix Auto Canada - COO & SVP - CIO

Freedom Mobile - Head, Customer Applications, Experience, & Strategy

FT Services - CIO

FundServ - CIO

Genus Capital Management - CTO

Genworth Financial Inc. - VP IT

Golder Associates - CTO

Gran Tierra Energy - Director IT

Grant Thornton LLP - CIO

Greenwin Inc - VP, Information Technology

Groupe Dynamite - Director, IT

GSK Canada - IT Director

GTAA - Acting CIO

H&R Block Canada - VP IT

Haventree Bank - VP, Technology

Hewitt Equipment Ltd. - VP & CIO

Hitachi Vantara - GVP & Global CTO

Home Trust Company - CIO

Home Trust Company - CTO

Home Trust Company - VP & CISO

Horizon North Logistics - CIO

IBM Canada - Associate Partner, Payments Industry

Indigo Books and Music - CIO

ivari - SVP & CIO

JP Morgan Chase Canada - Executive Director, Information Risk Management

Keyera Energy - Director, Information Technology

KnowledgeOne - CIO

LaFarge Canada - Director, IT

Landmark Cinemas Canada - VP, IT

LCBO - Director, Applications Systems


Leisureworld Senior Care Corp - VP IS

Lightstream Resources - Head, Information Services

London Drugs - GM IT

Loto-Quebec - Corporate Director, InfoSec

Magna International Inc - VP & Global Leader, IT (CIO)

Manulife - Global Head of Private Markets & Real Estate Technology

March Networks - VP Professional Services & CIO

MaRS Discovery District - Managing Director, Fintech and Commerce

McCain Foods Limited - Manager InfoSec

McInnis Cement - Director of Information Technology

Medical Pharmacies Group - VP, Information Technology

MEG Energy - Manager, Information Technology Solutions & Services

MMM Group - CIO

Montreal Police Service - CIO

Morguard Investments - CIO

Moulding & Millwork - CIO

National Bank of Canada - Information Security Officer

National Capital Commission - Chief, IT infrastructure & Support Services

NHL Players' Association - Head, Security & Technology

Northbridge Financial Corp - CIO

OEC Group Canada - Vice President, Information Technology and Client solutions

Oildex - VP, Architecture & Infrastructure

Olympia Financial Group - CIO

OMERS - EVP, Data & Technology


Ontario Pension Board - CTO

Ontario Trillium Foundation - CIO

Osum Oil Sands Corp - Manager, IS

Ottawa Police Service - CIO

Pacific Western Transportation - CIO

Packers Plus - Global IT Director

Pason Systems - Manager, Digital Communications & Corporate IT

Patient News - CTO

Peel District School Board - CIO

Pengrowth Corp - Director IS

Penn West Exploration - Snr. Manager, IT Operations

Peterson Investment Group - Head of IT

PFB Corp. - CIO

Pizza Pizza - CIO & VP, IT

Precision Drilling - VP, IT

Precision Drilling - Director, IT Infrastructure & Security

PSP Investments - Snr. Director, Internal Audit & Business Infosec

Public Works and Government Services Canada - Director, IT Security Directorate

PwC - Managing Director, Real Estate Technology Advisory

Qantas - Global CIO

Queen's University - Director, Information Technology

RBC Royal Bank - Head of Application Security, Data Protection & Security Consulting

Regal Lifestyle Communities - CIO

Revera Inc. - CIO

Revera Inc. - Security Architect

Ricoh Canada - VP,IT

RioCan Property Services - VP IT

Roche - Head of IT Americas – Operations

Rogers Communications - SVP, Customer Experience IT


Russel Metals - VP,IS

Scotiabank - Head, Systems Architecture & Platform Modernization

Scotiabank - VP - International Systems Technology

Scotiabank - Head, System Architecture & Platform Modernization

Scotiabank - Global Head, GBM Compliance & Transformation

Sears Canada - Divisional VP, Information Technology Services

Secure Energy Services - GM, IT

Shaw - Head, Customer Applications, Experience, & Strategy

Shaw Communications - VP, Technology Operations

Shaw Communications - Director, Risk Management

SMART Technologies - Director, IS Corporate Services

Smartcentres - Director IS, IT

SmartOne Solutions - President & CIO

Societe de Transport de Montreal - Division Head - Security and Compliance

Street Capital Financial - CIO

Sun Life Financial - AVP, Data & Business Intelligence Services

Sun Life Financial - VP Application Ops & Services

Suncor Energy Inc. - Director, Application Portfolio Optimization, I&PM, Business Services

Symcor - CTO, VP Technology Services

Talisman Energy - SVP IT & Business Services

TD Bank - Enterprise Architect

Teknion - SVP, CIO

TELUS - Chief Security Architect

Tervita Corporation - VP, Information Technology

The Hudsons Bay Company - VP Technology

The Hudson's Bay Company - SVP & CIO

The Source - VP, Information Technology

TMX Group - CISO & Global Head of Infrastructure Services

Toromont Industries - VP & CIO

Toronto District School Board - Chief Technology Officer

Toronto Hospital for Sick Children - Director of Technology

Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) - Chief Enterprise Architect

Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) - CIO

Toyota Canada - National Manager, IS

Transamerica Life Canada - CIO

Trican Well Services Ltd. - Director, Business Information Systems

Tridel Corporation - CIO

Trillium Health Partners - IT Director, Applications & Clinical Informatics

UFA Cooperative - VP & CIO

University of Calgary - Executive Director, Development Services

University of Ottawa - CIO

University of Ottawa - Senior Director IT Services & Infrastructure

University of Toronto - Director, Centre for Management & Technology

University of Waterloo - Director, Technology Entrepreneurship

Vancity - VP Technology & Solutions

Viterra - Director Enterprise Technology

Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company - Director of Innovation Outpost

World Health - Director IT

Wolseley Canada - CIO & COO

Yellow Pages Group - Director - Enterprise Data Management

York Region District School Board - CIO

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