Mobility industry likes Mondays

An informal association of mobile IT professionals that started in Finland has made its way, to Canada, opening up chapters in major cities and hosting discussions on emerging technologies and trends.

The Toronto chapter of Mobile Monday scheduled its fifth meeting since starting up for the evening of Nov. 6, which will feature a panel discussion on enterprise applications and communications. The group has set up a meeting place at the Fort York Armory which convenes at 6:30 p.m.

Mobile Monday, as its name suggests, meets on the first Monday of every month and was initially set up six years ago by a privately-held corporation, which operates in conjunction with an Advisory Board of mobile, telecom, media industry professionals. The first Canadian chapter launched in Vancouver and another is reportedly being established in Montreal.

Jim Brown, a mobile computing consultant and co-founder of Mobile Monday Toronto, said he was made aware of the organization by a New York-based colleague, who helped introduce him to a local peer to get the Toronto chapter started.

“So far this has been funded out of pocket,” Brown said, adding that the attendees come from a variety of backgrounds. “It could just be someone with an interest in mobile (technology), a student, someone who’s contemplating getting into the industry. For a lot of these smaller companies, they’ve made good contacts on the carrier side, good contacts on the funding side.”

Mobile Monday does not charge membership fees and is free to the public. Brown likened it to IT industry organizations that sprouted up during the dot-com boom but went quiet after the market crashed. Brown, who has worked with Bell Mobility and Rogers Wireless among other firms, has used his own contacts to arrange guest speakers. Mobile Monday Toronto does not have to pay the Finnish organization to set up a chapter but signed an affiliate agreement to adhere to its core values.

“The overall intention is to grow the mobile business at a macro level,” he said.

Monday night’s speakers include Ramesh Balakrishnan, an executive with messaging services provider Critical Path Inc.‘s Toronto office. Although a number of other associations for mobile professionals exist such as the Toronto Wireless User Group, he said he was attracted by a gathering that could be done off-hours in a relaxed setting.

“It’s a lot more informal. There’s not a lot of structure that we adhere to,” he said. “It’s a nice forum because it’s not just talking about local things. There are a lot of global discussions.”

Chapters meet annually in Finland, Balakrishnan added, where they share best practices and unique technologies developed around the world.

Brown said the marketing of Mobile Monday Toronto has primarily been through word of mouth, and that may be the way things continue. “It’s been very grassroots to date,” he said

Previous Mobile Monday Toronto speakers include executives from Google, Yahoo and the .Mobi Alliance.

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