INTERVIEWS by STEPHEN IBARAKI, FCIPS, I.S.P., MVP, DF/NPA, CNP
Top-ranking Business and Technology Leader: Bernard Courtois, President & CEO Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC)
This week, Stephen Ibaraki has an exclusive interview with Bernard Courtois.
As the president and CEO of ITAC, the Information Technology Association of Canada, Bernard Courtois is an outspoken advocate for the deployment of information and communications technology tools to improve business productivity and to achieve our societal and public policy goals.
Mr. Courtois was named ITAC's leader in January 2004. He is a lawyer with over 30 years experience in the telecommunications sector. He served in a variety of executive roles with Bell Canada from 1991 to 2003, including those of Chief Regulatory Officer and Chief Strategy Officer. Prior to joining Bell Canada, Mr. Courtois practiced law in Montreal and Ottawa serving a wide range of clients in telecommunications and other regulated industries. He was an active participant in the many regulatory, public policy and judicial proceedings which have shaped Canada's competitive communications marketplace. He was Chief Strategy Officer when Bell Canada took its strong turn to the Internet, ahead of most of its peers around the world.
Mr. Courtois is also a dedicated and energetic builder of business communities. He has served on the ITAC Board of Directors since 1999. He has also served on the executive of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce; was president of the International Institute of Communications; and is director and treasurer of the National Gallery of Canada Foundation.
Mr. Courtois is a graduate of l'Université de Montréal. He is a member of the bar in Ontario and Quebec. He lives in Ottawa.
To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link
The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.
Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic
|:00:38:|| ||From an ITAC and a personal perspective, what do you hope to achieve in 2009?|
"....To navigate through this period (economic slowdown) and to make sure that we as an industry and the public policy makers don't take our eyes off the ball on the longer term issues that are essential to our future prosperity and success...."
|:01:24:|| ||What is your forecast for the economic situation in 2009 and then the next years?|
"....Generally speaking....the ICT industry will continue to do better than the rest of the economy...."
|:02:35:|| ||How will the economic situation impact technology use overall and then specifically in the technology sector?|
"....In this day and age our product has become basic essentials, both for people's lives personally and for corporations, governments, and organizations.....we're a necessity that you cannot do without nowadays...."
|:04:44:|| ||What will be the impact on the IT practitioner in 2009 and beyond?|
"...There has been a trend that has been building over the years for the practitioner of what skills are going to be required and what's going to be in demand. There is still value in the technical competency that is required....But there's a shift taking place to the need for more business expertise. The technical practitioner becomes a business adviser....becomes integrated into the business decision making processes...."
|:08:07:|| ||What are the areas of highest demand in 2009 for the IT practitioner?|
"....I think we are going to be in a period of change management....We are going to be undergoing changes because organizations are trying to adapt to wrenching economic change and we are also having to adapt to a skills shortage that is going to remain pervasive throughout the economy...."
|:09:37:|| || How do you see the technology landscape here in Canada as compared to the rest of the world? |
"....We have seen the rise of major developing economies like China, India, Russia, and Brazil and from that, as Canadians, we have to look to those markets to sell our products and services. People sometimes think of it as jobs going over there but it's actually a big opportunity....We have to continue to operate by using the capabilities and lower costs of those countries in our supply and value chains and to find the right place for Canada, which is in the higher value activities.... "
|:12:37:|| ||Ten to twelve years ago we were ranked in the top four in the use of our technology in the different areas of our economy. Currently we are ranked in the double digits, in other words our ranking has fallen from the top four to around twelfth or thirteenth place. Do you see that changing in the future?|
"....At ITAC we have been doing a lot of work on that and we have identified the areas where Canada needs to work to improve its position relative to its peers and other competitors around the world..."
|:16:39:|| ||ITAC is working on specific projects. One of your major programs from an education standpoint, to try to message to that audience in someway, working with governments etc., to bring passion and excitement to the educational sector. Can you tell us more about your work in this area?|
"....Everybody in our industry has become quite sensitive to this issue about enrollment. There is no doubt that the future of our industry and the future of the whole economy....needs three things. We need more children to go into the streams that can feed the needs of our industry , we need more focus and more effective immigration and we will need to retrain or realign people...."
|:21:29:|| ||Are there any comments you'd like to make or any added items about the future?|
"....Two things which are big blind spots in the discussions taking place in our industry and in public policy....One is the shortage of skills we have in the ICT industry and the ICT capability in the economy is exacerbated in the health care side. Our heath care system, its future sustainability and performance is entirely dependent on a big step up on the use of technology....The other blind spot is that all developed economies are going to be running short of skilled people...."