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New technologies and adoption trends that influence IT strategy, and the issues and opportunities they represent.

Digital Transformation - Data Analytics and the Dissolution of Baggage Carts

I play the flute. Well, if you’ve got it, flout it.

How long is this flight? 6 hours ?!? I don’t want to complain for that long.

Show me a normal person; and I’ll show you a person you don’t know very well.

If there was a list of things that would make me feel more comfortable, lists would be at the top.


“You’ve always been an intense vomiter”, uttered the raspy voiced salamander on my shoulder.

It’s a toss-up on which opening line I should use for this blog. I like them all for very different reasons, but none seems to fit perfectly with the theme of my commentary today. I’m just going to use the very last observation I wrote down as I headed to my car after landing at the airport yesterday. I walked by several free carts and wondered to myself:

“Do we still need baggage carts at airports when all luggage has wheels?”

Of course the answer is “Yes”, or I wouldn’t be constantly running a slalom race around dozens of abandoned four-wheeled steel contraptions. The reason why is seemingly simple; not all bags have wheels.

In this day and age are there not ample products on the market that include wheels? Of course there is, but availability isn’t the problem; it’s the brittleness of change. Our inability to use new luggage designs because the changes might impact our personal packing techniques, throwing off decades of perfect vacationing experiences. The potential negative impact is boundless!

Let’s consider a second example; something closer to the hearts of my intended audience. You are a CIO, Chief Data Officer, VP of Business Intelligence, Director of Analytics, or anyone that considers data to be an asset, and insight as a requirement to create business growth.

In the world of a classic Enterprise Information Management program, you’ve spent millions of dollars and many years perfecting an architecture that creates and distributes 1000's of reports daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually to busy operations folks who run your business day-to-day. You measure the value of these reports in terms of timeliness and accuracy as critical business decisions are made based on the absolute information sourced from pages of calculations and exception lists. Your time and money was spent on carefully selecting data from source systems, coding transformations to comply with an Enterprise Data Model, perfecting the Star Schema within the Data Warehouse, creating multiple data marts with views meant to satisfy your lines of business, and curating thousands of MIS documents; all scheduled and delivered with precision. Every minute that information is not available to the operations team, a well-documented financial impact rests solely on your shoulders.  

It is a perfect world, and you won’t let anything or anyone interfere with the purity of the input, process or the output of your Insights. I’m certainly not going to try.   

I will suggest, however; that as your CEO redefines the business strategy to include a strong push toward Digital Transformation, the following initiatives will stress the capabilities of your current Enterprise Information Management architecture:

  • Rethinking Operations and Process to dramatically affect time to market
  • Changing the Customer Experience to distinctively grow loyalty
  • Evaluating new Business Models to unlock new revenue streams and markets

This stress will begin in the following ways: 

  • Non-traditional analysis will be required to determine how logistics can be reinvented to drastically reduce the time to market. This will require deep evaluation of the “design to shelf” processes for your business.
  • Data sources will change dramatically as new customer experiences are created across a variety of mobile and social platforms. You will need to figure out how to consume these rich data sources in order to understand your customer habits.
  • New analytical skillsets and models will be required to analyze evolving business trends. This will require the ability to concurrently analyze the future impact of economic change, relative customer acceptance, and competitive reaction.

To derive business value and insight within Digital Transformation initiatives, your Enterprise Information Management architecture will need to accommodate change, specifically:

  • Data will be need to delivered faster, in greater quantity and with more variation
  • Insights will be requested in real-time and requests for analysis will be requested more frequently
  • The credibility and integrity of external data will be in question, and requests for clarity will be tougher to solve

Even though I’m still in the middle of writing this blog entry, I can already anticipate the following response: “Okay, I hear you, and those changes have an eerie resemblance to Big Data problems; but I’ve told you time and time again, we don’t have Big Data problems”. 

To that, I only have the following response: “Not yet”.  

You will eventually have those problems and there is value in preparing for the complex requests from all of your various bosses.  Let me refresh your memory:  The CMO asking for detailed customer segmentation; the COO requesting a real-time dashboard of operational processes; and the CFO wanting to crunch the numbers on hypothetical changes to your pricing… all needed today.   I’m reasonably sure they will expect you to be prepared.

Even though the likelihood is very low that you don’t have near term data insight problems that fall into these categories, you do have one problem that is coincidentally shared with our luggage carrying wheel-less family members: Brittleness of change. This is the inability to use new data in a daily report that is only available in the source databases without substantial potential negative impacts.   

To make that data available, you now need to augment the various ETL jobs to SELECT and INSERT the new information, modify the EDW schema to store it, modify the Data Marts to index it, and change the various BI reports to use it.  Then of course the most expensive part of modifying the perfect and pure architecture is to regression test all of the reports and transformations to ensure the integrity is not compromised.  That, my friends, is the infamous source of the million dollar and multi-month problem; the restrictive cost of any change, however minor, to this perfected environment. It's that cost and agility problem that will "bring the pain" to which you should look to avoid.

So how do you solve both problems, still provide for new insight for Digital Transformation, and alleviate the brittleness of change? The answer is to create a parallel, but integrated architecture that specifically addresses those business problems:

  • Use integration tools, in addition to ETL tools, for the purpose of connecting to hundreds of varied internal and external sources of data in both real-time and batch
  • Implement an Enterprise Data Lake to store and manage your enterprise unstructured, semi-structured, and IoT data absent of a pre-defined data model
  • Use Data Refinery mechanisms to apply mathematical and statistical modelling techniques to discover and reduce data into a series of analytic databases
  • Present information to business operations using visualization tools, with access to hundreds of potential illustrations
  • Allow for blending of information within the visualizations to combine in real-time, information from data lakes, EDWs, internal source data, and even external live data  
  • Implement these tools/techniques with experimentation and innovation in mind. The goal is to drill down on insight and provide a platform for research, not provide hardened accuracy

Now you know why the picture in the beginning is relevant….

Allowing for a parallel architecture will keep the purity and perfection of your structured Enterprise Information Management model, but allow for business experimentation and the growth needed for your 

structured Enterprise Information Management model, but allow for business experimentation and the growth needed for your Digital Transformation initiatives.


That all being said, maybe I’m just encouraging you to buy a wheeled suitcase for your carry-on. Maybe it will help.

Paul Lewis is the CTO of Hitachi Canada and an advisory board member with The IT Media Group. 


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

Avison Young - VP Global Enterprise Architecture & Integration

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


BFL CANADA - Director, Cybersecurity & IT Risk Management

Black Press - CTO

BlackBerry - VP Corporate IT

BMO Financial Group - Director, Technology & Operations Transformation

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 Goose - CTO

Canada Live - VP of Technology

Canada Mortgage and Housing - VP, Information & Technology

Canada Protection Plan - Head of IT

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

CBI Health Group - CIO

CCS Corp. - VP IT

CDSPI - Board Director

Centerra Gold - Director IT & Comm

CI Global Asset Management - VP of Enterprise Infrastructure $amp; Operations

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

Colliers - Head of Technology & Data

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


Equitable Bank - CIO

Equitable Bank - CISO

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

Geotab - Board Member

Golder Associates - CTO

Gran Tierra Energy - Director IT

Grant Thornton LLP - CIO

Grand River Hospital - Director, Data Governance & Analytics

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

HSB Canada - VP IT

IBM Canada - Associate Partner, Payments Industry

Indigo Books and Music - CIO

Interac Corp - Director, Platform Engineering

ivari - SVP & CIO

JP Morgan Chase Canada - Executive Director, Information Risk Management

Keyera Energy - Director, Information Technology

KFC Canada - CTO

KnowledgeOne - CIO

LaFarge Canada - Director, IT

Landmark Cinemas Canada - VP, IT


LCBO - Director, Applications Systems


Leisureworld Senior Care Corp - VP IS

Lifeguard Digital Health - Chief Security & Informatics Officer

Loblaw Companies Ltd - Senior Director, Customer Engagement Technology

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

Metrolinx - EVP & CIO

Minto Group - VP IT

MMM Group - CIO

Montreal Police Service - CIO

Morguard Investments - CIO

Moulding & Millwork - CIO

MullenLowe Group - Global 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

OPTrust - AVP, Enterprise Data Services

Olympia Financial Group - CIO

OMERS - EVP, Data & Technology


OMERS - SVP, Data & Advanced Analytics

Ontario Pension Board - CTO

Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan - SVP, Product & Delivery

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

Pythian - CTO

Qantas - Global CIO

Queen's University - Director, Information Technology

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

RBC Royal Bank - VP, Technology Platforms & Risk Management

RBC Royal Bank - Global Cybersecurity VP

Regal Lifestyle Communities - CIO

Revera Inc. - CIO

Revera Inc. - Security Architect

Rheem Manufacturing - CISO & Enterprise 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

Salvation Army Canada - Board Director

SCI Group - CIO

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

Sunco Communication - COO

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 Parking Authority - CIO

Toronto Police Services - CISO

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

Valencia Risk - Managing Director

Vancity - VP Technology & Solutions

Viterra - Director Enterprise Technology

Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company - Director of Innovation Outpost

World Health - Director IT

Wolseley Canada - CIO & COO

WSIB - Board Director

Yellow Pages Group - Director - Enterprise Data Management

York Region District School Board - CIO

York University - Board Director

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