CATA merges with user group

The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance Thursday said it will expand its reach beyond the vendor community by merging with a large user group.

The Ottawa-based industry association said it had joined forces with the Society of Collaborative Opportunities and Advancement of Professionals (SCOAP). The latter group is best known for evaluating the Government Technology Exhibition and Conference’s Federal Government Distinction awards as well as managing the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI) award program.

CATA executive director Barry Gander said the SCOAP board has already voted unanimously in favour of the merger and its staff will be moved to the CATA building. As part of the arrangement SCOAP will retain its own board but a second SCOAP member will now join the CATA board. The combined organization will have 25,000 members.

“”We came to the realization that the advanced technology business relies as much on the users of information technology as it does on the producers,”” he said. “”When you look around to find out who those users are, the obvious organization is the one that hands out awards for exemplary behaviour.””

CATA is well known as the voice of the Canadian vendor community on a number of issues, lobbying the government for R&D tax credits and advancing the innovation agenda. SCOAP past president and co-chair Gregory Evanik, however, said the partnership with CATA offered other benefits to its members.

“”That is not a role of CATA that we will be entering into,”” he said. “”You can’t do that if you have social, government and user needs. User needs are not always in the interests of the vendor. What is important, though, is if you want to improve the impact on an organization in the use of ICT, what you want to have is a better understanding and collaboration.””

Gander said CATA members will appreciate a closer relationship with that constituency.

“”There is a real advantage in providing a feedback loop,”” he said. “”Being able to get fast responses to new product innovation, the kind of features that users would like to see in the product, that’s highly valuable.””

CATA has already merged with a number of other IT organizations, including the Canadian Association of Internet Providers and the Smart Toronto Technology Alliance, which have been looking for ways to grow their organizations during the IT downturn. Evanik said SCOAP has similar goals.

“”We have members across the country, but our presence is not significant,”” he said. “”We’d like to expand that and commit to the further development and recognition of performance improvement in the use of technologies.””

Gander said the integration process of these mergers is easier when both sides ensure they are on the same page from the beginning.

“”These are what we would call natural business acts,”” he said. “”We find when people are in agreement with each other, the actual wording in the agreements isn’t as important.””

Gander said the two groups became acquainted by organizing some seminars together and through CATA’s participation in the GTEC awards program.

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