ITAC – Information Technology Association of Canada

By: Jesse Champagne

ITAC, the Information Technology Association of Canada, is an organization that strives to be the “voice of the Canadian information and communications technologies.” The ICT industry contains over 30,000 companies, $155 billion in revenue, and accounts for approximately 580,000 direct jobs (3% total employment) and $67.2 billion of the Canadian GDP.

Over the last 60 years, ITAC has helped expand Canada’s innovative capacity and productivity across all sectors through the strategic use of technology. The association is a non-profit organization, dependent totally on funding from its members. Any company in Canada that is involved in ICT is able to join the association, and all fees are based on the size and nature of the corporation.

“We have approximately 325 members nationally; 75-80% are SMEs – somewhere between $1m revenue to $250m revenue. We have most of the large corporations – they are Canadian companies like CGI, Opentext, Blackberry, Celestica, and most of the multinationals like IBM, Microsoft, Google, Apple,” explains Karna Gupta, the President and CEO of ITAC.

The goal of the association is to help Canada become a world-class, leading digital economy, and to continue to “deliver prosperity and competitiveness for the country in a global market.”

It is an intensely competitive global market more and more, so Canadian organizations are [all] facing similar global challenges– access to capital, market and talent. One of the most common challenges is the hunt for talent. It is important in getting the right talent to the right jobs to deliver the right products and services.”

As the voice of the Canadian ICT industry, ITAC’s mission is to encourage (and in many ways enhance) the impact that digital technology can make to Canada’s economic growth. Karna believes that there are several key areas in which ITAC can improve the IT industry in Canada.

“As a country, our use & adoption of technology in Canada continues to be below par when compared to our peer group of countries in the industrial society. What ITAC is trying to do is not only work with the policy makers but also work with the technology companies themselves -small and large- to improve the adoption of technology across the board.”

He added, “We want to help [improve] the conditions for greater innovation to take place in the country… We are a small country; if you are starting a technology company you need a global footprint to be successful… All Canadian companies are also multinational in their business… You cannot make a company of scale and size just focusing on the Canadian market. Therefore we need work to make businesses scalable and exportable.”

ITAC strives to forge strong relationships with government and educational institutions, as well as prominent members of the community and those involved in other business sectors. Some of the benefits of joining the association include “work with all your potential customers – large multinationals – that are members of ITAC.” This is especially beneficial to SMEs that are “trying to sell into the enterprise market.”

For large national or multinational companies, being a part of ITAC “allows you to engage into the policy process– such as taxation, immigration, talent and skills programs – so you can leverage each one of them to support your business needs.”

Another important area that ITAC focuses on is education and gender equality. The association works with other groups such as CCICT which delivers school programs to increase interest for IT as well as universities, “so the kids of both sexes can look at technology as a good place for career growth and improvement.”

The idea of female IT professionals and female board members is a position that ITAC fully endorses, offering a ‘Women in Business’ event. ITAC recently released a whitepaper on “Women in Board in Canada”. The event is “a series of speaking engagements from top-notch female executives from the US and Canada… We had a session in Montreal, one in Vancouver, one in Ottawa, and the last one was in Toronto where the keynote was from Xerox’s Canadian CEO.”

He summed up their goal plainly: “We want more women in business. We want more female board members.”

Having achieved large success in his career, Karna now looks forward to helping other businesses and the community achieves similar success: “It is time to contribute back to the broader community to support and sustain and grow a sector that could be very robust.”

Regarding the future of IT, Karna believes that “the IT industry will continue to evolve rapidly but will continue to be the driving force behind knowledge economy.”

Gupta notes, “The biggest change [in] the IT industry… is called ‘total consumerization’. Everything that was complex and complicated and required huge processing power – is now essentially in your pocket…kids are walking around with more computing power in their pocket than what you have on your desktop. The full democratization of the ICT sector is unfolding in front of our eyes.”

Karna adds, “As a country, we are coming out of a nation that was very much dependent on… our national resources. If you look to the next 100 years we need to have a much larger play in a knowledge-based economy. To shape that transformation and to be a part of that process is very exciting.”

If you or your company is interested in becoming a member of ITAC, you can begin by filling out the Request for Membership Form here.