Tomorrow, I’m off to Ottawa to attend a conference on the state of Voice-over-IP technology. It’s hard to believe that it’s been about 10 years since the hype over this technology began in earnest.

And in that time, it’s graduated from “emerging” into the “established” category. Checking out our Web archives, I’ve noticed there are lots of case studies to choose from, so this may be example where all that initial hype is warranted.

What also has become clear is that it’s users in the sports and leisure industries that are among the most innovative users: The Ottawa Senators hockey club, Sunshine Village Ski Resort in Banff, Alta., and the Vancouver 2010 Olympics just to name a few.

There’s a common theme I started to notice too when researching the topic… The IT managers I spoke to in each case are just looking at the new technologies in terms of cost reduction, although that obviously is a requirement.

There’s a growing sense out there that end-users are looking at new technologies also in terms of delivering some “enterprising” new applications.

Sunshine Village, for example, has 35 cameras linked to an IP network, and a Web site, which allows skiers from all over the world to check in and look at snow conditions and look at the facilities.

It’s proven to be a huge marketing attraction, says Tim Hodgkinson, Sunshine’s IS supervisor. (A case study will be featured in the March/April issue of EDGE.)

In general, I would say that IP convergence as a technology seems to be on the verge of something bigger, and it’s good to see some imaginative uses of IT coming into the picture.

— Posted by Martn Slofstra, 2/24/07, 5:23PM, mslofstra@itbusiness.ca

“Does anyone really care?”

“Where’s the incentive? Does anyone really care?” is the rather despondent sounding plea from one women in IT lamenting the a. the lack of training in IT and b. lack of women in IT period.

“IT and engineering being, by tradition, occupations mainly filled with men, a woman entering the milieu would feel, I suspect, terribly… Alone. Some job environments can look and feel like a war zone for most women,” says a man in IT commenting on the lack of women in IT.

I count two replies to my earlier blog this week on the declining number of women in IT as a pretty decent response. It would seem that the women in IT issue tends to be wrapped up into a lot of other things, but I wonder if the bigger problem is that IT as a profession seems to be losing a lot of its lustre, male or female.

Some others in IT note declining membership in professional associations and less desire to pursue education and accreditation as perhaps symptomatic of a larger problem, do IT workers lack both the encouragement and incentives that all of us, regardless of our chosen professions, need?

People don’t automatically get excited about IT in the way they used to, perhaps years of all the hype have inured us to much of its potential, and made us blasé about its real impact.

So I am starting to wonder… Are you as motivated as you use to be? What attracted you to this profession in the first place? Do you see yourself as being on a IT treadmill, or do you look forward to the next big project?

I would really like to hear your views on this.

— Posted by Martn Slofstra, 2/23/07, 4:41PM, mslofstra@itbusiness.ca

The unheard voices of outsourcing

“Where’s the incentive? Does anyone really care?” is the rather despondent sounding plea from one women in IT lamenting the a. the lack of training in IT and b. lack of women in IT period.

r into Canada is about to become a hot political issue.

We know where the federal government, most vendors and industry association such as CATAAlliance stand on this issue; they would really like to see our borders open up as much as possible. And as long as there is a perceived skills shortage, who can argue?

But who exists to protect the interests of the Canadian IT worker who isn’t getting paid or trained because the money, and the opportunities, aren’t there?

Yesterday, I had lunch with a computer industry veteran who is seriously concerned about the long term effects of giving companies tax concessions to locate here, then importing cheaper labour once they do. Will this have the net effect of eroding Canada’s IT competence?

And in response to my blog yesterday, this came in from a concerned reader: “The problem is twofold. One we don’t have the training set up here to cover half the new technology out there, and what is available is only Stateside, if you can get in before it’s booked up or it’s far too expensive. Stop giving companies who can well afford it money to cover the new hires and give it to companies training employees on the new technology so we can even begin to compete with Russian, India and these other ‘$5 a day gets you a programmer.’ Why hire us when you can get it on the cheap?”

There are a lot of voices on this issue that seem to be going unheard. Our politicians and industry leaders may just want to start to pay attention, and begin addressing these concerns now.

— Posted by Martn Slofstra, 2/22/07, 3:15PM, mslofstra@itbusiness.ca

Where have the women gone?

A research report from Arlington, Mass.-based research firm Cutter Consortium is bemoaning that after decades of employment gains in information technology, women have quickly reversed the trend and are now rapidly abandoning IT, leading to what it calls “the defeminization of IT.”

According to Cutter Consortium Fellows Lynne Ellyn and Christine Davis, “Mature women are opting out of the IT field in droves, while fewer and fewer young women are pursuing careers in technology. This is a fact.” As usual, statistics in Canada are harder to come by but there is a widespread belief that the same is happening north of the border.

It’s unfortunate, to be sure, after years of campaigning by industry associations such as CIPS and many others, the question has to be asked: Why the sudden step backwards? Does anyone have a theory?

Attracting, retaining and training educated professionals seems to at the heart of a press release issued by Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) and the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATAAlliance), but someone I had lunch today wonders if these concerns are completely misplaced.

The report, On the Road to Building an ICT Framework for Internationally Educated Professionals (IEP), offers insights into the barriers facing IEPs in Canada looking to find employment in their field of study, and the hiring practices of Canadian employers with respect to IEP applicants.

ICTC President Paul D. Swinwood and member of the CATA Board of Directors. “We have heard from stakeholders across Canada that there is a skills issue,” but some are questioning whether a skills shortage even exists….

A much less vocal minority believes that no skills shortage exist, and wants to know why the government and Canada’s leading industry associations are taking a pro-importation of IT labour stance. Meanwhile, the belief is that Canada’s leading corporations, especially the banks, are downsizing their IT staffs left and right.

The question has to be asked…who are we supposed to believe?

— Posted by Martin Slofstra, 2/21/07, 4:00PM, mslofstra@itbusiness.ca

Lamentations

Yesterday, I lamented the fact we, in general, lack good solid industry research in this country, especially that which breaks away Canadian data from global information.

One day later, and not to suggest that there is a connection, information about the Canadian market has been forthcoming. A local PR firm sent in one study with a Canadian breakdown for the smartphone sector. (The Canadian market is a two-horse race by the way between RIM and Palm.)

Another recent study, released by New York-based Access Markets International Partners Inc. predicts that small and medium size businesses across Canada will increase their spending by 16 to 17 per cent on hosted/software-as-a-service solutions in 2007. Thanks for the info, keep it coming.

In Friday’s blog, I lamented the lack of a concerted software strategy in Canada, and how the current software skills shortage in this country could impact our competitive situation. Then today, I read EMC is opening a software development centre in St. Petersburg, Russia with an investment of US $100 million over the next four years. We keep hearing about centres of excellence popping up all over the world, obviously software development is big business with a uniquely global dimension. But I wonder, is Canada missing out on the action?

Finally, I would like to lament the fact that while I always try to resist the notion, Canada may indeed by lagging when it comes to any kind of IT action.

We have quite a lot of folks generating all kinds of events and reports creating this notion that we are an “Innovation Nation.” But a good hard look at the statistics suggests otherwise, we are facing profound labor and skills shortages at the same time a huge global opportunity in IT is arising.

According to Cutter Consortium Fellows Lynne Ellyn and Christine Davis, “Mature women are opting out of the IT field in droves, while fewer and fewer young women are pursuing careers in technology. This is a fact.”

As usual, statistics in Canada are harder to come by but there is a widespread belief that the same is happening north of the border. It’s unfortunate, to be sure, after years of campaigning by industry associations such as CIPS and many others, the question has to be asked: Why the sudden step backwards? Does anyone have a theory?

Attracting, retaining and training educated professionals seems to at the heart of a press release issued by Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) and the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATAAlliance), but someone I had lunch today wonders if these concerns are completely misplaced.

The report, On the Road to Building an ICT Framework for Internationally Educated Professionals (IEP), offers insights into the barriers facing IEPs in Canada looking to find employment in their field of study, and the hiring practices of Canadian employers with respect to IEP applicants.

ICTC President Paul D. Swinwood and member of the CATA Board of Directors says, “We have heard from stakeholders across Canada that there is a skills issue,” but some are questioning whether a skills shortage even exists…. A much less vocal minority believes that no skills shortage exist, and wants to know why the government and Canada’s leading industry associations are taking a pro-importation of IT labour stance.

Meanwhile, the belief is that Canada’s leading corporations, especially the banks, are downsizing their IT staffs left and right.

The question has to be asked: who are we supposed to believe?

— Posted by Martin Slofstra, 2/21/07, 4:45PM, mslofstra@itbusiness.ca

Large global vendors, with the exception of IBM, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard, seem to be overlooking or ignoring Canadian IT. It may be time to stand up and make them take notice.

— Posted by Martin Slofstra, 2/20/07, 3:00PM, mslofstra@itbusiness.ca

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