TORONTO — The Information Technology Association of Canada has turned to the former head of a well-known software vendor to develop its business strategy and offer greater advocacy to the private sector.
ITAC’s board of directors
Thursday said they have chosen Bill Bergen to take over from Gaylen Duncan, who stepped down after seven years at the end of March. Bergen last year left Oracle Canada, which he had ran since 1999. ITAC represents 1,300 technology-related organizations across Canada.
Bergen said he had been considering his next career move several months ago when he was approached by HP Canada president Paul Tsaparis, who as chair of the ITAC board introduced him to the search committee. After several years of running the local subsidiary of a U.S.-based firm, Bergen said he was eager to do something that would promote Canadian success stories.
ITAC has traditionally acted as the voice of the IT industry on a number of public policy issues, particularly the need for government spending on IT in the federal budget. Bergen said he would like to expand the group’s mandate to include the needs of private sector organizations, companies that are focused specifically on research and development and foreign multinationals operating in Canada.
“When the United States deploys technology, they don’t align it with their business processes. They change their processes to match what’s available in the marketplace,” Bergen said in reference to recent data that suggests a productivity gap between the U.S. and Canada. “To really be innovative, we have to get (companies) to invest in technology, but not just technology that will mask old processes.”
Tsaparis said Bergen, who has previously served on ITAC’s board of directors and its executive committee, was chosen in part for his business acumen. Oracle Canada’s margins grew 15 per cent and its overall business grew 25 per cent during his tenure. “He’s one of us,” Tsaparis said, adding he was pleased by the response to the search committee’s call for candidates.
Like the industry it supports, ITAC has felt the impact of the overall decline in IT spending. Though he wouldn’t get specific, Tundra Semiconductor chairman and ITAC board vice-chair Adam Chowaniec admitted that membership has eroded since last year. “In the last three months that’s stabilized somewhat, and we have actually added to our membership,” he said.
Two years ago ITAC merged with the Strategic Microelectronics Consortium, and last year local group Smart Toronto merged with the Liberty Village high-tech group. Tsaparis said ITAC would only consider merging with another association if it shared a similar policy agenda, could provide operational efficiencies and if ITAC could be certain members continue to have a unique voice in the association.
Bergen said he wanted to focus on specific activities that will help expand the IT industry, as opposed to traditional lobbying efforts.
“I’m not really an association kind of guy,”” Bergen said. “It’s not just about having meetings and then everyone goes home.””