The Digital Transformation Conference and Awards 2019 at a glance


Businesses and organizations in every corner of the country are coming to the same realization – it’s innovate or bust.

The third annual Digital Transformation Conference and Awards celebrated category finalists’ ability to adopt a culture of incremental improvements across the business and innovative solutions that drive modernization.

The cloud has become chief information officers’ primary gateway to new technologies and capabilities, and with the major public cloud providers setting up shop in Canada, the floodgates are open. Even businesses outside of the country’s major metro areas are on the path of some form of digital transformation.

Roughly 200 people gathered at the top floor of the Globe and Mail Centre downtown Toronto Aug. 8 to network, learn, and inspire. Missed out? Don’t worry, we’ve collected some of the top moments here. Visit our Digital Transformation Conference and Awards hub for more! All photos by Paul Darrow.

A big thank you

This event wouldn’t have been possible without our sponsors. ITWC would like to thank them all for their tremendous contributions.

Premium sponsors:

Telus Business

Supporting sponsors:


Supported by:

CATAAllianceCIO Association of Canada IDC

Opening remarks

ITWC president and chair of the Canadian Channel Chiefs Council Fawn Annan, alongside ITWC CIO Jim Love, kicked things off with opening remarks. 

“Transformation is not a choice any longer. It’s an imperative…for any company, any size. The competition is anyone, anywhere with a good idea and an Internet connection,” said Annan. “As a company we have seen the pain and promise of transformation. For the past number of years we have been quietly documenting our story, – mistakes, missteps and all the small victories. As we launch the third year of this conference, I am proud to announce we have turned those private notes into a book that will soon be available to the public.”

The book is called Digital Transformation in the First-Person, and centres around ITWC’s transformation as a Canadian B2B publisher. The book is slated to launch in the coming weeks with the #dxfirstperson hashtag.

Viewing the issue from both sides

How does an organization effectively enhance its offerings for customers? There’s more to this than simply building apps. Those apps have to have specific functions, and they have to be easy to use. Accomplishing this, of course, is easier said than done.

As ServiceNow’s global vice-president of innovation, Chris Pope brings more than 15 years of C-level executive experience with leading technology solutions and platforms across product management and strategy. Chris also has the rare, added-value experience of having been a ServiceNow customer multiple times so he understands both the client and vendor perspectives on business transformation.

His opening keynote pointed the spot light at both ends of the spectrum.

Digital transformation pitfalls

As the global economy continues to be disrupted by technology, digital transformation has become a critical part of the business agenda for companies of all sizes. Enterprises are trying to embrace digital transformation with urgency, yet IDC predicts about 70% of digital transformation initiatives are expected to fail.

A panel dedicated to the various pitfalls around digital transformation featured three speakers:

Angela Mondeau, president and CEO at Information ITAC (left)
Sarah Shortreed, chief information officer for Bruce Power (centre)
Alizabeth Calder, senior vice-president and CIO at HomeEquity Bank

Angela says it’s very easy to get caught up in buzzwords, and that it’s important that leadership ditches the technical jargon that comes with emerging tech while normalizing business language when discussing internal change.

Other pitfalls include a rush to transform using emerging technologies, failure to genuinely engage with internal stakeholders, failure to gauge the company’s readiness, and taking on too much.

Talking security

You can’t talk about digital transformation without addressing the issue of security.

Lakshmi Hanspal, CISO of Box, leads a panel discussion about the various threats that emerge internally and externally when a modernization effort is in the works. She was joined by Greg Murray, CISO and vice-president of information security at Rogers and Adam Richardson, director of technical integration engineering at BMO.

Nav Canada’s chief information officer Claudio Silvestri also led a presentation about how to talk cybersecurity with a company’s board of directors. He mentioned how 77 per cent of CEOs believe they are prepared for a cyber incident, but only 22 per cent of CIOs feel the same way. Silvestri wrote about this very topic on You can read his latest article from his series here.

Can’t forget strategic partnerships

Strategic partnerships are key to achieving digital transformation goals. Without them, your company might be left scrambling to upgrade or maintain critical parts of its infrastructure that it doesn’t have the resources for.

In his 10-year role as executive vice-president and chief information officer of Sun Life Financial, Mark Saunders has helped develop a creative, collaborative work environment that’s touted by LinkedIn and other “Best Workplace” lists as one of the top companies where Canadians want to work. Saunders spoke in great detail about Sun Life’s own modernization efforts, while touching on its on strategic partnership with SecureKey.

5G in 15

What is 5G and why should people care? IDC’s Tony Olvet, group vice-president of research with IDC, did his best to answer those two monster-sized questions in 15 minutes.

The fifth generation of wireless technology is projected to not only make business more efficient, but give consumers access to more information faster than ever before. Olvet suggested these four areas will experience tremendous benefits from 5G:

  • Fixed wireless connections
  • Connected factories
  • Autonomous vehicles
  • Better augmented reality experiences
  • 4K surveillance video

Customer experience matters more than ever before

Organizations seeking competitive differentiation and business growth in today’s marketplace have to take a close look at customer experience.

Customers and clients are more sensitive than ever before to all aspects of their digital experience. And why wouldn’t they be? Armed with more choices than ever before, and with the bar being set by the fastest sites, a poor performing application is ample reason to go elsewhere. People are addicted to speed.

Amandio Pereira, global partner solutions architect at CA Technologies, a Broadcom Company, led a panel discussion about this very topic. Joining him on the stage were:

Marco Trecrocre, SVP and CIO of the Four Seasons Hotels 

Ralph Michaelis, chief information officer of the Canadian Blood Services

Humza Teherany, chief technology and digital officer for MLSE

The future appears to be in good hands …

The day’s final speaker was 15-year-old machine learning and virtual and augmented reality developer, Zaynah Bhanji. At the age of 13, she was developing a neural network with other major vendors.

She has been speaking at leading conferences globally in places including Dubai, Poland, Toronto, San Francisco, and more.

A science and technology student in the Enhanced Learning Program at Woodlands Secondary School, she is making it her mission to help people. For her, virtual and augmented reality is not just something cool for the gaming world. She points to health care where augmented reality is already being used to help doctors visualize organs in 3D. She’s also a huge advocate for women and girls in the technology industry.

Time for the awards!

Later in the afternoon, it was time to hand out some hardware. Jaime Leverton, chief commercial officer and SVP at eStruxture Data Centers, hosted the awards ceremony.

First up, the SME Enterprise Sector award, which went to Morison Insurance Brokers.

Visit our Digital Transformation Conference and Awards hub for more articles and videos telling the stories of the event’s award winners.

MUSH/Not-for-profit winner

Modernization can be especially challenging for needs shelters. Often underfunded, these agencies lack the digital assets to properly track its visitors and manage resources.

The Drop-in Calgary centre impressed our judges enough to take home this year’s MUSH/Not-for-profit award for its efforts to modernize the facility and make it easier for its clients to access.

Helen Knight, the DI’s director of IT – whose flight was delayed because someone decided to smoke on the plane – still managed to arrive in time to accept the award.

Visit our Digital Transformation Conference and Awards hub for more articles and videos telling the stories of the event’s award winners.

AI disruptor winner

Poor information sharing and a general inability to serve common patients in an organized way has often been cited as one of the biggest pain points across Canada’s health care system.

Quebec’s PetalMD and its platforms impressed the judges this year to help them earn this year’s AI disruptor winner.

Visit our Digital Transformation Conference and Awards hub for more articles and videos telling the stories of the event’s award winners.

Large private sector winner

The finance industry has been at the edge of digital transformation for many, many years. For the Royal Bank of Canada, the disruption and access to information has empowered consumers and seized the opportunity to provide better solutions to its clients.

Their work helped them earn this year’s large private sector award.

Visit our Digital Transformation Conference and Awards hub for more articles and videos telling the stories of the event’s award winners.

Large public sector winners

This year’s judges couldn’t make up their minds when it came to this category. That’s why they decided to go with two winners: The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and Canadian Blood Services.

Visit our Digital Transformation Conference and Awards hub for more articles and videos telling the stories of the event’s award winners.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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