ITAC Online - Applications - March 2013
In ITAliCs

An App for Everything?

According Wall Street Journal’s Jason Bellini the app economy is huge, growing globally and generating significant revenue. So far this growth has mostly been driven by consumer apps, but 2013 could be the year that enterprise apps come into their own and we start having an app for just about everything.

We are all spending more time on the web than ever before especially if we have a smartphone. New numbers from Comscore reveal that that most of us accessing the web while on the go are using apps and not a browser. Apps are already a significant contributor to the digital economy in Canada. According to new research by the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), approximately 51,700 Canadians are employed directly and indirectly in the development of apps. Furthermore, the findings of this study indicate that hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue are flowing to entrepreneurs and businesses engaged in the development of apps by a diversity of enterprises across the country. This month we look at two Canadian companies, Macadamian and BNOTIONS, who are in the business of creating cool technology apps for their clients as well as Wavefront which is helping accelerate one of the primary channels for apps, namely wireless.

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Macadamian - Creating Software for Life!


Have you ever wanted to use a software product that is impactful and enriches your life? Well, Macadamian (the company not the nut) is creating this type of product and doing so with more than a few of the best companies in the world.

What is user experience (UX) design?

Hear what Jesse James Garrett, a pioneer in user experience and the author of The Elements of User Experience has to say about it here.

“Macadamian collaborates with leading companies and brands to create software products that have a high impact and enrich the lives of people that use them,” said Fred Boulanger, Macadamian’s Chief Executive Officer. “Through user research, user experience (UX) design, and software engineering we deliver a truly great experience to people who use our applications. It literally enriches their lives.”

From the start, Macadamian’s focus has been on helping technology companies create better products. Fred came out of Corel with a strong focus on users and understanding them before creating products for them. Today, he and his team are driven by user-experience and design-thinking. Fred believes that design-thinking is going to be to the next 25 years what technology was to the last 25 years.

"If we want users to like our software we should design it to behave like a likeable person: respectful, generous and helpful." — Alan Cooper, American software designer, programmer and the "Father of Visual Basic"

According to Fred, this means that people will no longer be stuck with software applications (apps) that are not user-friendly. They will orientate to products that are helpful and provide a great user-experience. Macadamian builds this into all of its software because it is not about the functionality, it is about the tasks and how you can perform the tasks. Consequently, Macadamian is expert at making any interaction with software immersive and an experience rather than mind-numbing.

A great example of this is Macadamian’s collaboration with a US client to develop an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) app that oncologists could access on a tablet to simplify their workday activities, ensure that they have the right information, and provide their patients with a positive experience.

Hear from Fred about Macadamian and how it mixes technology and design, emotions and science to connect with the user here!

For Macadamian this was not simply about creating an application. Rather it was about how to build software that provides the information needed, enables the doctor to connect with the patient, and provides a great experience for both. Macadamian worked with the client, their customers, and the doctors to ensure an intuitive user interface. By doing this it brought all the product creation services to the table and delivered a full-featured, working EMR mobile app that enabled doctors to connect with their patients in a way that boosted their dignity.

In this case and others, Macadamian differentiates itself by creating products that bring the whole experience together for the client and their customers. In Fred’s words, it aims to help its clients be profitable and gain market share by differentiating their products from what is available. It is not about reducing costs but rather about helping clients to become more successful by designing a product that customers will embrace and emotionally connect to.

Macadamian operates in a highly competitive market and faces numerous challenges. The two biggest are finding the required talent and generating new customers and commercial avenues for business. To meet these challenges Fred checks Macadamian’s scorecard of the following key performance indicators regularly:

Financial: Macadamian must remain profitable so it can attract the best talent and give them the best working environment so that they look competitive to clients.

Did you know that..

Macadamian, an award-winning global software company, has worked with about 500 companies in its 15 years of existence and on apps used by millions of people in more than 100 countries. It has also helped BlackBerry to differentiate its latest product in a crowded market.

Commercial: Macadamian builds relationships with its clients and works on what keeps them up at night. Its mission is to help its clients succeed and provide customer service that is second to none.

Social: For Macadamian, it is important to share its success by having a major impact on healthy living, the creation of entrepreneurial spirit and science enrollment in universities, and sustainable living in its communities.

In the future, Fred wants Macadamian to deal with even more top brands and demonstrate how its software is moving the needle on what it is doing for them.  Albert Einstein once said that the only source of knowledge is experience and given Macadamian’s user experience ability, Fred may get his wish.

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Wavefront - Accelerating the Canadian Wireless Wave!

Recently, Wavefront, Canada’s Centre of Excellence in Commercialization and Research (CECR) for wireless technology and innovation, announced the findings of its first economic impact assessment.

What is Wavefront?

Let James Maynard, President and Chief Executive Officer of Wavefront answer this question and others in this video.

According to the assessment, Wavefront has generated $4.80 in economic benefits for every public dollar invested in it, and produced almost $37 million in GDP across the Canadian economy. Companies interviewed during the assessment stated that Wavefront helped accelerate their time to market by four to six months, generated new streams of revenue, and helped them save money.

“Wavefront is helping accelerate the growth of Canadian wireless companies and Canadians are reaping the benefits of a sector that already generates a total economic value of some $43 billion for the Canadian economy,” said James Maynard, President and Chief Executive Officer of Wavefront. “The insights from this assessment confirm that we are on the right track in helping Canadian wireless companies grow locally and in foreign markets.”

Wavefront’s goal is to create a national network of resources that helps Canadian wireless small and medium enterprises (SMEs) connect with each other, with resources that help them build better products, and then with international market opportunities. This has its challenges. The major one is that Wavefront is really doing something that is quite novel. The fact that Wavefront is national and is focussed on not just connecting with local companies but also helping to propel them into international markets is unique. To ensure success here, Wavefront is focussed on having the right plan to meet the needs of Canadian companies and building credibility in international markets to help connect companies.

Did you know that..

One way to bring that drive for progress to life is through BHAGs (short for Big Hairy Audacious Goals). With his very first dime store in 1945, Sam Walton set the BHAG to "make my little Newport store the best, most profitable in Arkansas within five years." As the company grew, Walton set BHAG after BHAG. The point is not to find the "right" BHAGs but to create BHAGs so clear, compelling, and imaginative that they fuel progress. – Jim Collins, Building Companies to Last

With the support of the people of Vancouver, Wavefront grew out of an initiative by the Wireless Innovation Network Society of BC (now known as DigiBC) in 2007 to foster the collaboration of emerging wireless technology companies in British Columbia. The objective was to help local SMEs grow faster and avoid some of the points of risk (such as being acquired too early and not getting a chance to scale to their full potential) in their development.

In 2011, Wavefront received support from the federal government and became a National Centre of Excellence with a mandate to commercialize wireless innovation across Canada to generate $400 million of GDP, create 6,000 jobs and help start 150 companies in the wireless sector by 2016. Wavefront is pursuing this BHAG by supporting wireless companies in several ways:

  • Connecting them affordably with critical resources such as mobile device libraries, usability labs and cloud-based testing (with advanced analytics that can be run from a PC against live handsets running in Wavefront’s data centres) that they need to design and get their product to market smarter and faster.
  • Providing them with access to the developer centre for Orange Telecom (Orange) and BlackBerry’s Tech Centre.
  • Creating paths to market via a mentorship program with Rogers (whereby they can sell through the Rogers sales channels) Orange, Deutsche Telekom (which gives Wavefront a presence in 55 different markets) and BlackBerry (which has relationships with over 650 operators globally).

James believes that there is real opportunity for Canadian developers and industry as applications start moving into mainstream markets like mining, transportation, healthcare and energy.

“One of the largest business opportunities right now is the connected car, which is going to generate all kinds of opportunities as the car becomes a mobile device. Mobile will go from managing your personal life to integrating into the supply chains of large organizations. I expect this to create wealth for the SMEs selling these services and drive productivity, innovation and increased competitiveness into Canadian companies that adopt the technologies including machine to machine (M2M) and the internet of things.”

Wavefront has actually launched a M2M competency centre in partnership with Sierra Wireless -the world’s largest provider of M2M communications devices. As there is no one size fits all foreign market strategy, Wavefront is focusing on sector strengths in countries. For example, Europe is one of the strongest markets for transportation apps while Chile and Brazil are good for connected agriculture apps. It cooperates very closely with Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) and Export Development Canada to assess a foreign market’s potential for and compatibility with the 2,800 companies it works with.

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Naeem Lakhani, Partner, BNOTIONS

Cool Technology + Great Passion = Innovative Apps

What started out as a few friends with a passion for technology is now one of Canada's leading innovation partners to global brands.

Did you know that..

Alkarim Nasser was placed by Marketing Magazine on its annual '30 Under 30′ listing in 2012!

Marketing Magazine

In 2008, BNOTIONS was created as a technology agency strung together by founder Alkarim Nasser, partners Mark Reale, Aaron Ritchie and Logan Aubé, and some class mates from Seneca College. They all had a passion for innovation, exploration and spreading it to others.

BNOTIONS started out picking up project work on online sources like craigslist. At that time Flash was becoming popular with advertising agencies that used it mostly to create interactive banners and web pages. BNOTIONS began working with agencies but the work was specific: Develop this interactive widget, create that banner, etc. However, social media, in particular, Facebook (FB) soon changed all that. BNOTIONS began developing apps for FB internally just as ad agencies shifted to campaign-based technology inside FB. Consequently, It soon began creating apps for these agencies.

Profit Hot 50

BNOTIONS ranked 11th in the 2012 PROFIT HOT 50. Its revenue growth from 2009 to 2011 was 832%.

From 2010 to 2011, BNOTIONS created hundreds of FB apps for ad agencies. Although it could see the value generated by these apps, there was no transparency to the client. This, coupled with the challenge of delivering apps for technological campaigns created by non-technical people, led BNOTIONS to work directly with the client and ad agency from strategy through to the end product with social design being core to the thought process. The move paid off with BNOTIONS, led by former advertising exec Paul Crowe (now Partner at BNOTIONS), being named a Preferred Marketing Development Partner of Facebook in 2012, a designation held by only seven companies in Canada. Also several agencies stayed with BNOTIONS because it stayed in step with trends in technology such as augmented reality, gamification and big data.

Being very experimental, BNOTIONS soon become a strategic force in building really interesting technology for its clients. Its maxim changed from "we can build anything you want" to "we can solve your problem with technology in a really cool way". Today, BNOTIONS creates its own social, mobile and web apps and partners with organizations and entrepreneurs to build, launch, and evolve B2B, and B2C products. BNOTIONS has become an innovation partner as it provides a lot of strategic value thinking in the creation of novel app solutions for its clients.

Being innovative requires talent and BNOTIONS is competing directly with companies like Google and Amazon to hire and retain the best-suited and brightest developers. It has competed successfully by concentrating on its culture which weaves its team together through a BNOTIONS shared passion for technology, a less than corporate environment (check out the décor!) and its own non-profit, The YMC, that provides a space for ongoing learning at its Open Source Studio. Anyone who wants to teach anything can use the space for free and BNOTIONS regularly hosts various workshops and meetings for Google's official Development User Group, the Python User Group, Social Network Analysis and others. This activity helps level up the knowledge of BNOTIONS staff, brings out possible future employees and gives back to its community.

"Our mission is to just be good people. Good in what we do, our impact on our people and our community," said Naeem Lakhani, Partner at BNOTIONS and member of ITAC Ontario's Executive Board. "We are more concerned with building cool, scalable technology than just getting a paycheck. We want to give our clients a start-up, user-centric experience that helps them become agile in their thinking, overcomes complicated challenges and creates opportunities through innovation."

BNOTIONS has enjoyed and plans to continue to enjoy explosive growth by focussing on strategy and bleeding edge technology. A focus for Naeem in 2013 is the data science practice, which turns big data into actionable information leading to the creation of innovative apps especially in the healthcare, media, advertising and financial sectors. According to Naeem, rather than spend $2 million on an idea, you can create a really iterative process that is extremely data driven and then keep on iterating until the problem is solved and your end users have exactly what they want.

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Further reading

Here are, for your information, are articles regarding ICT applications:

Google Glass: Sightseeing trips
In 2012 Google it announced that it had developed Google Glass, a pair of web-connected smart glasses that could take photos and videos, and display information gleaned from the internet. Read more about its development here.

Is Home Automation the Next UX Frontier?
Read about the trends in this important area here.

85% of Smartphone Users Would Rather Give up Water than Mobile Apps
Mashable recently reported that a survey on mobile app behavior revealed that 82% of the respondents stated that there were critical apps they can’t go without — not even for one day. Those include email (57%), Facebook (41%) and alarm clock apps (31%). Read about it here.

Wall Street Journal finally smells the money in mobile
Rating: Claims mobile app sales will reach $25bn in 2013

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ITAC Events

March 12, 2013

ITAC Executive Briefing Series with Tom Ring
Do you want to know more about the procurement reform initiatives of Public Works and Government Services (PWGSC)? Would you be interested in finding out how the process for government suppliers will be changing? Then you need to be at this ITAC Executive Briefing!

March 21, 2013

ITAC Health Procurement Workshop
ITAC invites you to join us on December 4th for a thought provoking CIO panel featuring four of Ontario's influential IT leaders.

ITAC Committees and Forums

March 13, 2013

SMC Best Practice Forum - Power Reduction in Analog and Time-mode Analog Circuits - Mississauga

March 14, 2013

SMC Best Practice Forum - Power Reduction in Analog and Time-mode Circuits - Montreal

March 26, 2013

Public Sector Business Committee Meeting (Federal)

ICT Industry Events

March 12-21, 2013

Wavefront & Microsoft Workshop – How HTML5, Windows 8 & WP8 Play Together

March 19-21, 2013

Wavefront Presents: BlackBerry Jam Starter Sessions

For a full list of events, and to register for ITAC events, visit


ITAC listed in the Backbone200 - The best of everything in Canadian tech
Accoding to Backbone magazine, here are ten associations that make a difference for Canada's tech sector. Read more about it here.

Meet Jennifer Hay-Roe: 2013 ITAC Ivey Award Recipient
A common theme in Jennifer's university studies has been analyzing the complex challenges faced by all businesses due to an increasingly dynamic business environment. Observing the essential role technology plays in solving these challenges led her to her current study focus. Read more about it here.

Federal Government Seeks Input on Temporary Foreign Worker Program
One of ITAC's six priorities is to promote policies that will ensure a steady supply of talented men and women for Canada's ICT industry. Read about its participation in a review of the federal Temporary Foreign Worker program here.

10 Years of Action on Canada's Electronic Waste
E-waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams today and it is growing at three times the rate of municipal waste globally. Read about how EPSC is taking on the Canada's e-waste challenge in this release.

Update: ITAC Executive Briefing Series with Benoît Long
Benoît Long, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister with Shared Services Canada (SSC) addressed a group of more than 100 IT executives on "Shared Services Canada: The Transformation So Far" in February. Mr. Long, who is responsible for Transformation, Service Strategy and Design, provided a perspective on the just how large the transformation is and how the SCC is handling it so far. He noted the importance of consulting the private sector on its plans and recognized the contribution by ITAC in this regard.

Other News and Events

12th annual RE$EARCH MONEY conference
The 12th annual RE$EARCH MONEY conference on 9-10 April 2013 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa will examine the implications of federal Budget 2013 on business innovation in Canada.

Federal Government advised to adopt a Canada-first military procurement strategy
This report will help the Conservative government craft a defence industrial policy for Canada that harnesses military and security budgets in the service of jobs and economic growth.

Calling all SMEs, here is the 2012 Study of Participation of Small and Medium Enterprises in Federal Procurement
SMEs matter to Canada and to ITAC. In fact, 65% of ITAC's membership are SMEs and it is devoted to serving its SME community by doing all that it can to promote the health and growth of all Canadian SMEs. The provision of this study is part of ITAC's service to SMEs.