It’s no secret that 2020 required all businesses to respond to new and unprecedented challenges. At a recent Canadian Business Technology Community meeting, member-experts and industry thought leaders discussed what lessons technology companies can learn from a tumultuous 2020 and how to make a smooth transition to 2021. Here are four takeaways along with perspectives from community’s members from the meeting.
Move the Needle on DEI
Many companies and employees still struggle to overcome diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) challenges in the workplace. University-educated, Canadian-born members of a visible minority earn, on average, 87.4 cents for every dollar earned by their Caucasian peers, according to The Conference Board of Canada.
Rita Loncar, Canadian channel leader of Veritas Technologies and co-chair of the Canadian Business Techology Community, along with Phil G. Joseph, diversity, equity, and inclusion champion; and Uchechi Ezurike-Bosse, business and lifestyle strategist/founder of My Empowered Living, shared their unique experiences and discussed the benefits of developing diverse talent and corporate DEI initiatives, during a session called “Pushing DEI Conversations Out of the Comfort Zone.”
Eric Sugar, president of ProServeIT, attended the session and said afterwards, “One of the quotes that stuck out to me was, ‘Everyone has a moral obligation to move society forward.’ As leaders, we need to create inclusivity and equitability. Creating a society of change is a marathon, not a sprint. How can businesses hold our ecosystems accountable to create an anti-racist environment, and what do we, as business leaders, need to do in order to measure this?”
The session focused on how to better identify and understand the strengths, barriers, and opportunities for growth within the tech industry for underrepresented populations and how companies can make a difference following the “LEADER” Framework – Listen; Educate; Accept responsibility; Develop a plan to create anti-racist companies; Execute the plan; Repeat the process.
Cut Through the Hype of Emerging Technologies
In another session, “The Role of Emerging Technology in Digital Transformation: Cut Through the Hype and Build a Competitive Advantage,” Seth Robinson, senior director, technology analysis, CompTIA, and Dave Sobel, host, Business of Tech, MSP Radio, discussed how companies today recognize the importance of digital transformation, but that emerging technology has become a “catch all” descriptor for any and all futuristic advances.
Ultimately, customers are not after a specific technology or the next “shiny” new thing—they want to find solutions and differentiate themselves from the competition. According to Robinson and Sobel, the next wave of innovation will focus on building custom solutions—or “artisan IT”—versus the implementation of individual emerging and cutting-edge technology.
“Selling a solution is way more powerful and the ‘art is in IT’ to build and create this in a cutting-edge way. Let’s acknowledge that this is hard; however, it will yield greater value and profitability,” said attendee Michele Bates, director, product management and business development, SYNNEX Canada.
It’s no secret that the number of cybersecurity breaches, hacks and cyberattacks are on the rise, which means it’s never been more important for tech companies to secure their businesses. Jeff Dawley, president and co-founder, Cybersecurity Compliance, and Dana Liedholm, vice president, sales and marketing, at BLOKWORX, discussed how the pandemic forced experts to change the way they approach cybersecurity and how businesses can increase their cybersecurity resilience during the session, “How Can I Protect My Business in 2021?” From skilled cybersecurity professionals, training for employees, information sharing, and data breach planning, companies must stay ahead of the curve when it comes to their cybersecurity planning.
“It does appear that the world is ripe for the picking when it comes to cyber-attacks with so few small businesses looking at the layers of their cybersecurity environment,” said Krystal O’Riordan, marketing manager, Cybersecurity Compliance. “Properly trained people are a better defense against cyber-attacks than tool out there.
Enable a Trusted Workplace
In unprecedented times, technology can provide businesses and communities with the ability to better manage the use of their workspaces, including offices, hospitals and health care facilities, or classrooms. This was the topic at hand during the session, “Enabling the Trusted Workplace with Location Insights,” with Jake Lovisolo, product sales specialist, Cisco.
“As members of the technology industry many of us are experienced in leading change, evolving technology roadmaps and building digital infrastructure. This journey has taken us through many generations of networks and devices that have become increasingly powerful and increasingly complex,” said Mark Collins, vice president, Cisco Canada Partner Organization, Cisco.
Network investments must not only securely connect us, but also ensure safety polices for social distancing, managing crowd size or tracking critical physical assets at scale—issues that may not have been considered previously.
Watch the full meeting, which also included sessions on implementing cloud technologies and how to get the most from your team.