Canada’s 2020 CIO of the Year: Finalists Revealed
Presented by CanadianCIO in partnership with the CIO Association of Canada (CIOCAN), the awards program recognizes Canadian technology leaders who have demonstrated business and technological vision, entrepreneurship, a capacity to drive transformation and an ability to drive value. The awards will be presented during ITWC’s Digital Transformation Week conference on July 16 during a session dedicated to the CIO perspective.
Over the past 90 days, nominations have been open for the award. Finalists were carefully selected from this list and scrutinised by a panel of judges:
- Jim Love, CIO, ITWC
- Gary Davenport, Past President, CIOCAN
- Mark Bryant, CIO, PCL Construction
- Johanne Duhaime, Vice President – Information and Communications Technologies at Hydro-Québec
- Philippe Johnston, Director General, Digital Services Directorate, Transport Canada
- Helen Knight, Principal, Helen Knight Consulting
- Humza Teherany, CIO and Chief Digital Officer, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment
- Shari Wallace, CIO, City of Burnaby
The selected finalists are now asked to provide letters of recommendation, demonstrating their accomplishments. Winners of the award will be chosen based on these letters and their original nomination submissions.
“We were impressed by the quality of the nominations from across Canada. It shines a light on the fact that CIOs are playing a critical business role in the success of their organizations.” - Gary Davenport, judge and CIOCAN’s past president
The finalists revealed
The four categories are: private sector, public sector, non-profit sector and next-generation leader.
- Jamshid Rezaei, CIO, Mitel. The secret to Rezaei’s success is his ability to turn “more” into “less.” He transformed the company’s operations by consolidating a myriad of systems into single platforms now used by all employees around the world.
- Pierre Bonin, Vice-President & CIO, Videotron. In the past year, Bonin successfully implemented two new customer services after convincing his company to choose disruption over incremental change. In a short time, this has produced a better customer experience, higher revenues, fewer call centre calls and simpler business processes.
- Marco Trecroce, CIO, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. As the first ever CIO for the Four Seasons, Trecroce has taken the hotel chain’s IT from the dinosaur age to a “Digital Genius” ranking by Gartner in the past 10 years. During this time, the IT team delivered more than 110 global projects, improving guest satisfaction scores on the digital experience from three to 81 per cent.
- Kalyan Chakravarthy, CIO, Region of Durham. After joining the region as CIO, Chakravarthy quickly developed a new five-year road map, Digital Durham 2023. In just 18 months, he has fully moved the region from legacy systems to Office 365 and Windows 10, and led several innovative projects. This has already saved the region hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours.
- Samantha Liscio, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, WSIB. Over the last 18 months, Liscio has led a transformation to build a robust technology infrastructure and a client-focused operating model. This made it possible for the WSIB to seamlessly move 4000 employees from 16 offices to working from home within a week after the COVID lockdown.
- Ricardo Basnayake, Board Director, MNS Malton Neighbourhood Services. Basnayake had the foresight to champion cloud and remote working strategies in his organization. As a result, the number of remote workers grew from 2 to over 100, and they didn’t miss a beat in delivering valuable community services when the pandemic hit.
- Thomas Wardman, Vice President, Digital Transformation & CIO, The Royal Conservatory of Music. Over the last two years, Wardman has led a bottom-up technology transformation of this 135-year-old organization. His initiatives have saved costs, while boosting revenue and musical creativity.
- Noman, Ahmed, Director of Technology, PACE Technical. Ahmed is a trail blazer for an IT service provider that supports over 70 small and medium-sized businesses. His ideas to revamp the company’s processes and cyber security strategy led to a 98.95 per cent customer satisfaction rating over the last year.
- Ivan Yao, Manager, Program Effectiveness, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Known for having a unique combination of leadership, business and technical skills, Yao led the team that digitized workplace safety in just 80 days. On top of all that, his team says he’s funny.
“It’s more important than ever before to celebrate the incredible IT leadership we have in Canada. These men and women have seen us through some monumental challenges and are now taking centre stage in the management of their organizations.” - Jim Love, ITWC CIO
Insurtechs are winning the race with legacy system companies
Nestled in its own place within the world of financial services, insurance is arguably more unpopular than retail banking.
That’s hardly surprising given that, from a customer service perspective, insurance is something of an off-kilter transaction. You pay a sizable premium in exchange for a service you hope you will never have to use. This image problem is exacerbated by ubiquitous tales of insurers not paying out when it is time to make a claim.
The insurance sector has long been due to an overhaul, and this is where the disruptive force of insurtech comes in - one of fintech’s most upwardly mobile subcategories. Accordingly, last year, insurtech in the UK alone attracted £262m in investment, a growth of 60% on 2019, according to Tech Nation. Insurtech’s momentous growth has been captured in a new report by The AI Journal exploring this burgeoning sector.
What exactly is insurtech?
Put simply, insurtech refers to technological innovations that seek to make insurance cheaper to buy and more efficient to use. In a similar vein to fintech, the large, established institutions have been dipping their toes into insurtech, but it’s the disruptors who are genuinely looking to shake up the status quo, diving into and exploiting those areas that traditionalists have little imperative to explore.
Examples are price comparison sites (one of the earliest forms of insurtech that was eventually snapped up by the insurers it initially sought to disrupt), claims software, customisable policies, or even smart-tech-enabled dynamic policies whose premiums can fluctuate depending on changing circumstances.
The latter, for instance, could use someone’s fitness tracker or smartwatch to monitor fitness levels, thus reducing the premium of a life insurance policy; or track a GPS system that records the location of a car and assesses risk levels accordingly.
Most consumers tend to shop around for their insurance needs and perhaps end up buying their contents insurance with one provider, their car insurance with someone else, and their pet insurance with yet another underwriter. Managing all these different policies, with their varying renewal dates and payment terms can be complex. This has led to the increase in apps that pull everything together.
More prosaically, insurtechs are developing AI that uses machine learning to act as an insurance broker, eliminating the need for a human intermediary and therefore offering more cost-effective and impartial advice.
Insurtechs and risk
But there are some obstacles in the way of insurtech’s continued evolution.
Insurance companies are averse to risk. Understandably so, as at the crux of the industry is the role of the actuary, whose job it is to analyse and measure the probability and risk of future events. So it’s little wonder that there’s a reluctance among the traditional players to welcome the disruption that insurtech brings.
Insurance is heavily regulated, a minefield of legality and labyrinthine jurisdiction, which means the idea of shaking it up can be anathema. And why would they, when their old-school business models are working perfectly fine?
There’s an understandable nervousness and unwillingness to work with startups, who themselves need to work with the bigger firms in order to underwrite risk.
While it seems like a catch-22 situation, there is growing, if cautious, interest from insurance companies, who can see the benefits of insurance with a friendlier face, innovative solutions, and a competitive edge through differentiation. As that tentativeness dissipates, the growth of insurtech will gather even more momentum.
Tom Allen's analysis is based on the findings of a new report on the fintech and insurtech industries produced by The AI Journal.