The largest business ICT network in Quebec

By Ani Zheku

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Technology is the fastest growing industry in the world today. In this new era of innovation, the knowledge that comes from technological developments has become vital. Associations like the Quebec Technology Association (AQT) help Information Communications and Technology (ICT) companies learn about new developments in the tech industry, while at the same time provide various growth and networking opportunities. More specifically, the AQT gives members a competitive edge by supporting them on four pillars: Strategy, Financing, Human Resources and Commercialization needs.

“In the early ’90s, late ’80s, a group of CEOs felt the need to get the word out. They decided to create an organization whose mission would be to support commercialization needs,” explains AQT CEO Nicole Martel. . “They taught those 100 to 200 companies at the time how to sell software. We now represent over 600.”

Founded in June 1990, the AQT has become the leading voice for Quebec’s technology community.”I was first hired to develop the concept of the association. That is, to build events, network, and essentially how to plant the roots of the organization,” Nicole says. “Nowadays companies are getting more and more sophisticated in how they define their strategies and in how they see themselves in the coming years.”

Quebec boasts the second largest contingent of companies in Canada after Ontario, and this is no small achievement. “In terms of an international presence, we are the stronger one,” Nicole says. “It is true that eight out of 10 of our companies have sales in the international scene. We are definitely the strongest in terms of global commercialization.”

AQT history rooted in software promotion

Known in its early years as the Centre de promotion du logiciel Quebecois, or the CPLQ, the association’s mission was to help Quebec software companies promote their products across local and global markets. Shortly afterwards, in 1991 to 1992, CPLQ reached 125 members and by 2002 it changed its name to the InterLogiQ Network. The year 2002 would be a turning point for the association as it became self-funded. As a result, access to funding became limited and the risk that came with implementation grew. However, in spite of the various challenges that came with this newly acquired status, the association was able to firmly establish its role as a leader in the technology industry in the years to come.

By 2008, the former InterLogiQ Network became the AQT, a name that it retains to this day. During these later years, the association prioritized three major sectors: growth, performance and promotion. It focused on growing the industry’s reach and influence, as well as enhancing performance by implementing innovative strategies. The AQT has worked efficiently to promote networking and business partnerships among its members for almost 25 years

Perhaps the most cutting-edge performance tool that lies within the AQT is the Competitiveness Barometer. Appropriately named the AQT Barometer, the tool offers extensive and detailed profiles on the numerous information communication and technology companies in Quebec.

The barometer is specifically used to track and measure the progress of the technology sector based on four major areas: human resources, revenue, innovation, and sales and marketing. The data collected from the survey in previous years has revealed the best practices in marketing, as well as the impact of changes to tax credits programs. It has also provided a view of recruitment and retention, as well as insights into the remuneration of the sales force. For these reasons, the AQT Barometer has proven itself to be a highly effective reference as it helps to identify clear trends in the ever growing and evolving technology industry.

The Influence and Reach of the AQT

In order to continuously grow its reach and representation, the association serves as an industry spokesperson and publisher of extensive industry data. The AQT encourages its members to adopt only the very best business practices that will enhance their performance. The association’s success lies partly in its plethora of networking tools, and it encourages members to connect and form business partnerships with each other, further expanding network opportunities both locally and internationally.

Never too far from unweaving the rainbow of development, the AQT has emerged as a force even in the often-elusive American market. The association continues to maintain its place in the top 10 alongside world famous innovation hubs such as Chicago, Massachusetts and California. After all, the principles of the association have remained the same even 25 years later. Those same principles of professionalism, integrity, commitment and knowledge of members are consistently being applied to the work that is done today.  “We make sure we know our companies and their practices well. We measure the health of the industry by using the AQT competitiveness barometer,” Nicole says.  “It gives us a very deep understanding of the companies, and in turn we can represent them in front of the media, the government too. We went from five to six staff to a team of 12 permanent staff members presently.”

Nicole further explains how simple interactions create valuable connections. For example, members gain access to the most dynamic companies and in turn they discover more information about one another. “The best-kept secrets become known,” Nicole says. “We have a broad offer of services, ranging from training to networking. They (the members) get access to all these services.”

Ideas and innovations come fast and plentiful when there is an exchange of information, or when a diffusion of knowledge occurs. The AQT facilitates such a process by allowing companies to learn about each other, grow and evolve together. Every year it’s more than 1 500 executives that benefits from the association.

“We have created an environment which fosters growth. We have strong ties to other organizations and above all we are passionate about helping those who chose us for guidance. We are very proud of the strength of the network.”