We asked technology decision makers about to depart for the holidays to give us some insight into their IT investment plans for next year. Whether embarking on new initiatives or resuming existing projects, many organizations will continue to fine-tune their internal operations and sharpen their

competitiveness. See if you share their goals.

We’ve got our work cut out for us. We’ve already implemented IP telephony in our city, so that is 90 per cent complete. What we will be busy on is developing both a community portal and an e-government portal for the city. The second priority is developing an effective disaster recovery and security plan, and the third important one is piloting a records management and document imaging system. Some of these will go into 2005 as well.

Louis Shallal
CIO
City of Hamilton
Hamilton, Ont.

We’re certainly going to be a taking a close look at our storage and backup, which I think a lot of companies will have to do. You’re getting a lot more data, so you’re figuring out the best ways to handle that — SAN vs. NAS. We’re looking at outsourcing some things, but again, the numbers have to be right on that. We’re also going to look at handheld wireless for some of our applications. There’s probably three parts of a big application that we’re going to push to a handheld device of some kind.

Bruce Flemming
CIO
Ellis Don
Toronto

Our overall IT spend next year is not going to be any different to what it was this year. What I’ve observed over the last few years is we’ve generally gotten a lot more disciplined over both the infrastructure side of things and the project side of things. Our big focus next year continues to be custom self-service Web sites and the other big focus of investment is in integration. There’s a lot of money spent just consolidating systems, and those are fairly easy to write business cases for. New project spend is creeping up this year, but total spending will be flat.

Guy Mills
Assistant vice-president, information services
Manulife Financial
Toronto

(Recent IBM and Oracle outsourcing deals) certainly overshadow any other single thing we’re doing in regard to IT. This is like our whole infrastructure. It’s not something you do every year, that’s for sure. There’s not just the cost of the technology and the software but the amount of manpower it takes to implement one of these things, if you can appreciate the involvement of all the business units and their people in the different capacities to make sure we’ve got the processes and systems just right. It’s a huge undertaking for us. It’s our No. 1 thing for sure.

Alan Torrie
Executive vice-president of global markets and technology
MDS Inc.
Toronto

(We’ll be focusing on) security and completion of infrastructure. But security is a big deal. I mean network security and virus protection. And that’s straight through from the developing and writing of completely new policies regarding computer usage within the facility, right up to installation of more multi-tiered filtering. We do a lot of filtering. We turn back probably 100,000 spam every two days. (In terms of completion of infrastructure), I’m referring to network and service infrastructure, completion of the wireless network, and completion and refinement of services over that network.

Andrew McAusland
Executive director, IITS
Concordia University
Montreal

Basically, we’re planning on doing a lot of contracts for new deployments. Our vision of what’s happening next year in terms of hardware and service is that Y2K saw huge IT spending. All that hardware and technology and infrastructure’s about four years’ old. It’s going to need replacement. So we’re actually looking forward to a very good year in terms of technology rollover projects–desktop refresh, server refresh, network backbone upgrades, switching projects, that kind of stuff. A lot of enhanced security as well.

Ian Cameron
President
Dragon Orb Consulting Inc.
White City, Sask.

I would say the bulk of it would be continuation of existing projects. More enhancements to some of the integration that we have with third-party cold storages. We’re building a commerce system to integrate our trucking companies. And that is partly done, and it’s going to be continued on through next year. We have more work on our data warehouse, where we’re bringing in more POS-scanned data, other demographic data. And we’re building a better capability for senior and middle management to use the data warehouse, more dashboard concepts. We’re researching RFID technology. We have a pilot project that we’re working on. And we’ll see how we can integrate that into our inventory systems. We are working on a traceability pilot project with different industry associations–PMA and CPMA. We are enhancing our extranet.

Doug Grant
CIO
The Oppenheimer Group
Coquitlam, B.C.

In the past year, we have spent around $25 million on equipment and fibre. So we’ve got across the province a very significant, brand new network infrastructure. What I anticipate this coming year is the following: All of our post-secondary institutions, our teaching hospitals, many of our school boards, and our public research facilities–centres of excellence–are connecting to the network. We have about 35 connected today. We expect to have about 100 of those organizations connected by the end of 2004.

Phil Baker
President and CEO
ORION
Toronto

There are no huge initiatives for the next year other than continuing to do some of the infrastructure projects and portal projects that we have been working on this year. In infrastructure, we’re upgrading our desktops, laptops, Apple machines. In the portal (area), we’re creating a workflow management to speed up the process internally within the departments and removing any inefficiencies and improving productivity. On the intranet/extranet project, we are putting on all the information about our employees– their strengths — and information about our clients, which will just be available to internal people.

Bharat Puri
IT director
Young & Rubicam
Toronto

One of the focuses will be more enhancements to our Web site, Aeroplan.com. Lots of work in automating more rewards to our members through electronic media. We’re going to do a lot of work in call centre automation. So an automated speech-recognition application for the call centre. That’s new stuff. So you’ll be able to do some of the functions that you do today through the help of our Web site or a call-centre agent. The business intelligence and campaign management is actually new stuff we’re putting in. One other new aspect will be a significant push on personalized e-communications.

André Hébert
Vice-president of IT
Aeroplan
Montreal

What we’re planning to do is begin implementation of a fully comprehensive pharmacy network for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. That entails integrating the community pharmacies. It entails integrating with the institutional pharmacies ie. the hospital pharmacies. And it entails getting physicians access to that person’s profile anywhere, anytime. We are also in the middle of completing the Canada Health Infoway best-of-breed client-registry project. And that’s a $5.4-million project that should be over by June or July. This will be Canada’s first state-of-the-art, world-class client registry system for health care purposes.

Mike Barron
Health Information Network Project Leader
NLCHI
St. John’s, Nfld.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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