Gaylen Duncan: An exit interview

Last week the Information Technology Association of Canada confirmed rumours that its longtime president and one of the IT industry’s most outspoken personalities, Gaylen Duncan, had left the fold.

Duncan agreed to speak with about his departure, which he admitted was a rather quiet one, but insisted the reasons behind it were very simple. It was just time for a change, he said. He had led the IT advocacy organization for seven years, the longest he’d held any job.

Duncan may have decided to move on, but he hasn’t moved far. The man who has sat on many advisory boards and played a significant part in shaping the federal government’s innovation strategy still plans to fight for the IT sector. It’s just that from now on he’ll do it on a per-client basis, he said. Duncan is now working full time at Second Step Solutions, a consultancy firm he established over a decade ago. As ITAC continues to play its part in promoting the IT industry in Canada what do you think will be the biggest challenges it faces?

GD: I think the biggest challenge is not just one that ITAC faces, it’s the health of the entire sector. The last couple of years have been pretty brutal and I’m not sure we’re going to see a significant change over the next year. I think we’ve stopped shrinking but we’re certainly not growing like we used to. But that’ll come back.

ITB:What are some of the issues and opportunities that you think might bring the technology sector back to health?

GD: There are two areas of the existing economy. The first is the education sector. I think we’re going to see a revolution in the education sector but I don’t think it’s going to come in the next two or three years. I think it’s going to take longer than that. The second area, which I think is going to come faster is the entire health sector. Those are the two relatively uncharted areas that I think will bring tremendous opportunities over the next two to five-plus years.

I don’t think we’ve seen the true implications of what we currently call government online. We’re doing pretty well at automating transactions, but we haven’t thought through the entire democratic process and the implications of technology on it.

ITB: What do you think those implications might be?

GD: How do you relate to politicians, to the government, to the backbenchers when everything is online. When I can blast e-mail all politicians my position on the Iraqi war, or my position on taxation. And not just me, but every citizen of Canada can do that and expect a response. How is that going to change the political process? That’s a whole area that a couple of people are thinking about, but fundamentally nobody is thinking about.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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