ITAC Online - The Alberta ICT Showcase - September 2011
In ITAliCs

ITAC in Alberta: the weather really is good there in the fall

Last week, ITAC’s Board of Directors gathered in Edmonton for a joint meeting with the Alberta ICT Council.  This also provided an excellent opportunity to explore some of the diverse science and technology initiatives underway in the region.

The National Research Council has established the National Institute for Nanotechnology in Edmonton.  Our directors toured that facility and got a sense of the institute’s plan for enterprise creation based on nano.  The institute draws (and contributes) considerable expertise from the University of Alberta.  Our directors were introduced to some of the work the U of A’s team is doing in machine learning, advanced computing and innovative curriculum development.  They also met Jonathan Schaeffer – one of the world’s leading researchers in artificial intelligence and the author of Chinook, the first computer program to win a world championship.

The visit to U of A was eye-opening.  It clearly excels in advanced computing and technology, but it also has a strategic mission to be a national and a global leader in technology.  We’ve seen in other jurisdictions how that kind of firmness of purpose from an academic institution can build dynamic clusters of science-based enterprise.

One of the best examples of this is Micralyne Inc., a global microsystems company that has its roots in the U of A.  CEO Nancy Fares gave her fellow ITAC directors a tour of her plant prior to the board meeting.  Nancy also participated in a special ITAC/CWC luncheon panel featuring Jen Evans (Sequentia Environics), Lynda Brown-Ganzert (zuluMe) and Gail Powley (Willowglen Systems) who is featured in one of the stories in this issue.

It was an exhilarating schedule of events capped by a Board of Governors keynote address from Preston Manning.  As President and CEO of the Manning Institute for Building Democracy, he is one of the country’s most eloquent voices on the importance to Canada of science based commerce.  After taking the time to meet every guest at our dinner, Mr. Manning offered some profound advice on how our industry can more effectively communicate with politicians.

There’s clearly a lot more to Alberta than oil and cows.  As former Alberta ICT Council Chair Tom Ogaranko noted, ICT is the third largest sector in the provincial economy.  Many of the companies are small- to mid-sized companies with promising futures.  We’re please to introduce you to three of them in the stories that follow.

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Software for the healthcare industry… for free?

Chris Sherback, President, CEO and Chairman of the Board, Ormed Chris Sherback, President, CEO and Chairman of the Board, Ormed

It’s often difficult to predict from where the next leader, or leaders, in technology will emerge.  For Chris Sherback, a background in finance and accounting led him to his current position as President, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Edmonton-based Ormed – a software company specialized in making healthcare facilities more efficient.

This year marks Chris’ twentieth with the company; he’s seen its evolution from being the provider of one software product to its current suite of 36.  As Chris explains, the reason for Ormed’s creation came from a realization that in the early 1990s, only the very large healthcare facilities could afford software solutions.

“We were finding that small- to mid-sized hospitals couldn’t afford the technology, so hospitals were either on multi-million dollar systems or on paper,” Chris said.  “So our goal was to revolutionize the healthcare industry to develop a PC-based software package that we could roll out to these hospitals and get them off paper.”

Ormed’s initial area of specialization was materials management; from there it grew to include a full suite of products that help healthcare organizations manage supply chains, human capital, finance, e-commerce, human resources and more.  The company’s goal is to automate as many of the manual tasks involved in running healthcare organizations as possible.

“Eighty per cent of healthcare costs are labour, so if you can automate to cut on labour costs, you will see huge savings,” Chris said.  “And this doesn’t mean putting people out of work, because we’re talking about a system that is going to lack the necessary labour to get the work done.”

Chris explained that this problem Canada faces is not unique, and that practically all industrialized countries are feeling the same pressures.

“Healthcare is coming dangerously close to consuming provincial budgets.  The Simon Fraser Institute has forecasted that for many provinces, in the next 15-20 years, 100 per cent of their budgets will be consumed by healthcare.  And that’s based on current growth trends – it doesn’t even consider baby boomers.  Obviously computers are the answer.”

Ormed is about to release a new product that Chris hopes will help healthcare facilities achieve huge cost savings.

The twist?  It’s free.

“It’s the first product we’ve ever released for free, so we’re really excited about it,” he said.

Called “Group RFx,” the software product will help bring buyers of the same product(s) together, so that they can make purchases from common vendors together and reap the volume discount benefits that they might otherwise not be able to.

“The ideas behind Group RFx are ‘demand consolidation’ and ‘electronic tendering.’  If you can create a purchasing group, plus you can reduce the cost of building and responding to RFPs, these huge cost savings can be passed on to the consumer – and ultimately, to the tax payer,” Chris said.  “We’re doing this on the internet, for free, so that these purchasers can remain separate entities.  There’s no need for them to become formal partners in any way, or run the same systems, none of that.  It’s just like a bunch of office buildings contracting together to get a better price on window cleaning.”

Chris explained that the idea behind the product came from a problem he sees in his local healthcare industry.

“In Alberta, the government has tried to have one healthcare corporation run the entire province.  That’s over 100 hospitals, plus long term centres, mental health facilities and so on.  You may have an information system that can handle that, but a human mind can’t handle that – it’s too complex.  With the hundreds of different points of care, multiplied by the number of facilities, when trying to manage all of this through one system, it becomes impossible to make a decision because of all the competing priorities.”

This calls for a decentralized decision making model, Chris explained, so that you can serve the needs of various communities while still achieving economies of scale provided by software and other technological solutions.  Group RFx and other internet-based technologies facilitate these benefits without requiring a reorganization of our healthcare providers into fewer legal entities.

Looking forward, Chris sees a number of other priority areas for Ormed.

Ormed has eyes on the international scene, as many foreign countries look to Canada as a leader in healthcare.  Chris said many countries he’s visited resemble what Canada looked like 20 years ago; current international opportunities, therefore, are abundant.  But for now, there’s more than enough to keep the company busy right here in its own backyard.

Learn more about Ormed here:

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Enabling giants of industry

Gail Powley, Vice-President of Corporate Development, Willowglen Gail Powley, Vice-President of Corporate Development, Willowglen

Canada is known world-wide as a global leader in natural resources and several other traditional industry vectors.  In agriculture, forestry, energy and manufacturing, we compete with anyone.  And if you’re looking for a Canadian region that holds true to this reputation, look no further than Alberta.

In 2010-2011, for instance, Alberta’s energy sector accounted for 275,000 jobs province-wide; the forest industry contributes $9 billion to the Albertan economy each year; and Alberta is Canada’s second largest agricultural producer.

What does this mean for the ICT industry?  First and foremost, it represents a massive opportunity for technological products and solutions to help make members of these industrial sectors even more productive than they already are.

That’s exactly what Willowglen Systems Inc. has been doing for over 40 years.

Gail Powley is Vice-President of Corporate Development at Willowglen.  A chemical engineer with over 25 years of industry experience, Gail said she chose this industry for a reason:

“To help Canada become less dependent on resource development alone,” she said.  “Canada has a wonderful opportunity to build a true knowledge economy – with our resource industry as both direct benefactor and early adopter of innovative technologies that can greatly increase productivity.  And to this, industrial automation makes a lot of sense.”

This year, Willowglen Systems is celebrating 40 years as a global industrial automation supplier to industry leaders in pipelines, oil and gas, power, transportation and the water/wastewater industries.  The company’s trademark products include SCADACOM (Version 5), a high-performance SCADA host technology allowing pipeline and facility operators to effectively and reliably monitor and control their operations, and Unisen Flow Computers (Version 5), scalable custody transfer flow metering with built-in functionality which allows extremely complex features to be quickly implemented, addressing the unique needs of the most demanding customers.

Gail explained that all of Willowglen’s products include both software and hardware components, creating a unique marriage of advanced electronics with advanced functioning systems.

“So in areas where operating companies need to do things stronger, smarter and faster, Willowglen’s technologies enable the making of better quality products,  lowers emissions, and minimized energy usage when at all possible – all through the use of  advanced algorithms,” she said.

But this means more than just collecting the right data.

“Automation systems are data centric,” Gail explained.  “But having data is one thing; doing something with it is another.  If you can draw conclusions from data in an automatic way, and create control scenarios to, say, prevent operational incidents, you all of a sudden have a competitive advantage.  This is done by harnessing the power of ICT and, as a result, you’re building that knowledge economy.”

The industrial automation industry takes ICT technology from being an infrastructure component (and indirect contributor to revenue generation for companies), to the direct line of revenue generation, Gail said.  Effective industrial automation solutions have the ability to ensure consistent quality, improve productivity and achieve best-in-class operations for industrial facilities.

“Across the economy, we have seen the recognition that while computer systems are important, what’s more important is bringing all this information together to the decision maker or operator in an effective way, so that he or she doesn’t have information overload,” Gail said.  “Too much information can be a real handicap. Instead, systems need to focus on what has changed, and how this change needs to be addressed to mitigate further issues.  By serving the best and most important information to the decision maker as quickly as possible, they can make the quickest and best informed decisions possible.  That’s being a true enabler.”

Willowglen’s President, Wayne Karpoff, is an ITAC Director.  Gail said part of the message she and Wayne are always trying to push forward is a call to action to address one particular challenge technology companies currently face – the promotion of the benefits of ICT adoption.

“Key to our success has been the continued support of our innovative partners and customers who are looking for better solutions, and willing to be early adopters,” Gail said.  “And not only adopt our technologies, but help to be spokespeople, showing the rest of the industry and economy that these technologies bring great value to making facilities operations and Canada more productive and effective.  A lot of companies and end users don’t market the value of technologies enough, so it can be challenging to find that next customer or adopter.  Hearing from a vendor goes so far, but hearing from a user goes a hundred times further.”

As the company begins its 40th year, Willowglen is launching a set of new academic and industry partnerships and collaborations in the ICT space, which will help further its next generation of technologies and new solutions.

To learn more about Willowglen, click here:

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Orion Health – an EHR star

Michael Craig, Vice-President of Canadian Sales, Orion Health Michael Craig, Vice-President of Canadian Sales, Orion Health

For Michael Craig, Vice-President of Canadian Sales for Orion Health, moving to Edmonton was a return to his roots.  A pharmacist by trade, Michael was working for Orion Health in New Zealand when the company won its first Canadian contract – based in Edmonton.  An Edmontonian originally, Michael was the top pick to spearhead one of the most successful implementations in company history.

That was 2005.  A lot has happened at Orion since then.  Now boasting 25 Canadian employees, Michael explains that the Canadian market has played a large role in Orion’s growth over the past decade.

“Canada has been very strategic for us in terms of leading a lot of our EHR initiatives,” he said.  “We are now seeing an ability to leverage what we’ve done here in Canada in other countries.  For example, a lot of the EHR strategy that’s come out has been Canada Health Infoway architecture, and in the marketplace we’ve noticed lots of other countries adopting a very similar model.  Orion’s architecture – which really helps facilitate a lot of interoperability – allows us to flourish here, as well as in lots of other countries who have traditionally lagged behind Canada in this space.”

Orion’s expertise resides in clinical workflow and integration technology for the healthcare sector.  As Michael said, the key to the company’s success has been its ability to enable true interoperability.

”In different jurisdictions across Canada, the fundamental goals of all healthcare facilities and organizations are the same – it’s the infrastructure in place that we must integrate with that differs,” he said.  “Everybody’s interested in drug information, lab information, diagnostic imaging and so on – but which health domains different healthcare professionals want to focus on first and get integrated right away varies.  There are lots of subtleties – what they want to see displayed, what information is available for whom, et cetera – and it’s in dealing with these subtleties where Orion excels.”

Worldwide, Orion Health has deployed health information communities involving millions of patients with hundreds of thousands of active clinical users.  The company has more than 1,200 sites around the world, and it partners with a number of ITAC members.

“At the end of the day, lots and lots of data exist, so the challenge is to bring it together, collate it, and make it helpful, useful and logical to the end user – typically the clinician.  This is all in attempt to meet client expectations and market needs.  Clinicians don’t have half a day to spend chasing info – if they can’t get it quickly, they have to keep going.  And that might mean a diagnosis that’s not quite as accurate as it could have been, or maybe a lab test that didn’t need to happen.  You have to deliver something that adds value to a clinician’s day, plus you have to do it quickly, and you have to respect privacy and security.”

Michael said that with the help of Canada Health Infoway, many Canadian provinces have world-leading EHR systems in place.  As a result, he said the Canadian model is often looked to as an example of best practices, which can mean great things for companies like Orion.

“It’s quite often that we’ll have foreign countries come visit Canada to see what’s being done here,” he explained.  “We also see people who have been involved in Canadian projects find employment in other countries to work on their new plans.  There is a lot of interest globally in looking at countries with EHR successes.  Even the US is starting to put their Health Information Exchanges (HIE) infrastructure in place, mimicking Canadian EHR models.”

Looking ahead, Michael sees one particular area that has the potential to enhance the accuracy and effectiveness of EHR.  It involves integrating clinical data from the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) applications currently in use by general practitioners into the EHR.  Traditionally, EMR integration with the EHR has been a very complex challenge, but Orion has developed solutions and strategies with which to address it.

“We’re about to see a big push to try and get community organizations involved in providing information into EHRs, because today most of the data comes directly from the hospitals.  If you ever want to capture the full spectrum of care, we need to have community info as well,” Michael said.  “The whole patient engagement area is a very exciting aspect, and we’re all trying to grapple with how best to leverage it.”

Orion Health grew its staff by more than 50 per cent in fiscal year 2010-2011 and revenue for the first half of the 2010-2011 fiscal year was up 80 per cent on the same period last year.  The company recently placed number 64 on the HCI 100 list, and has 22 Health Information Exchange and Electronic Health Record sites across 12 countries.

Learn more about the company at

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ITAC Events

October 12, 2011

VOR Consultation with Wes Lapish - Toronto

October 19 - 20, 2011

ITAC 17th National Executive Forum on Microelectronics

October 24, 2011

ICT as Smart Grid Enabler

For a full event listing, and to register for ITAC events, go to:


ITAC Welcomes Re-introduced Copyright Bill

ITAC commends the government for re-introducing “An Act to Amend the Copyright Act” (now Bill C-11,) in Parliament on September 29, 2011.

“ITAC believes that Bill C-11 contains the right elements for a balanced copyright regime”, said Karna Gupta, ITAC President and CEO.  “We expect that the Bill will generate controversy and even aggressive positions and comments, but have concluded that these criticisms do not justify a re-work of the principles of the Bill.”

Read the full ITAC news release here:

CareerMash: Separating fact from fiction about today’s in-demand tech careers

On September 15, 2011, the Canadian Coalition for Tomorrow’s ICT Skills (CCICT) launched CareerMash, a spectrum of outreach initiatives designed to challenge and change perceptions about the technology-related careers that Canada’s economy needs today and tomorrow.

CareerMash exists to take on a critical challenge. Not enough young people, and particularly not enough girls, are choosing the tech-related careers that meet the needs of today’s employers. CCICT and its members, some of Canada’s largest banks, retailers, manufacturers, IT, consulting and telecom firms, have come together in partnership with the Federal, Ontario and Quebec governments, as well as a number of leading industry organizations to change the perceptions and career choices of young people.
Read more here:

Coral CEA helps Ontario’s software firms tap a multi-billion dollar market

As evidenced by Microsoft Corp.’s $8.5 billion dollar acquisition of Skype SARL earlier this year, Communications Enabled Applications (CEAs) that add instantaneous person-to-person interaction as part of a software experience are a hot business.  On September 20, 2011, in Ottawa Coral CEA CEO Brian Forbes speaks at a panel discussion on  innovation in Ontario. The Canadian Innovation Exchange event will include discussion about the rapidly shifting communications enabled applications market.  Coral CEA is actively involved in helping Ontario’s software companies tap into a market that Forrester Research Inc. predicts will top $14.5 billion by 2015.   In a widely quoted report Forrester Research says the $14.5 billion represents what’s called the unified communications CEA market.

Coral CEA is a not-for-profit Open Innovation network composed of member companies and organizations focused on the commercialization of Communications Enabled Applications (CEAs).  Coral CEA was founded by the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation (MRI), Carleton University, IBM, GENBAND, Eclipse Foundation and ITAC.  The mandate is to create sustainable companies and jobs by supporting members in the commercialization process of new products and services. This includes business development, distribution and brokering of alliance and capital relationships.

For more information, please contact:
Brian Forbes, Executive Director. 613 317-2118,
Paul Brent, Senior Communications Strategist, market2world communications inc., 613-256-3939, 

ITAC Continues to Collaborate with PWGSC on Software Licensing Supply Arrangement

After several months of close collaboration with the federal government on a new vehicle for purchasing software, Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) released a Software Licensing Supply Arrangement on February 1, 2011.

While the initial “pilot” phase for this SLSA is well underway, ITAC continues to work with PWGSC to make the SLSA as mutually beneficial to both industry and government as possible.

If you are a member of the software industry and have feedback on this SLSA, or the process surrounding it, we encourage you to get in touch with us.  Please contact Linda Oliver at

Subscribe to the WCIT 2012 in Montreal Newsletter

In October of 2012, the 18th World Congress on Information Technology will take place in Montreal, Canada.  The theme of the congress is “The New Digital Society,” an event that will explore fulfilling the promise of the Digital Age.

The industry’s foremost thought leaders, senior government officials, academic and international institutions and global media will converge in Montreal to discuss how the world can continue to benefit from the information technology and communications technologies.

The WCIT 2012 Organizing Committee invites WITSA members' to subscribe to the WCIT 2012 Monthly Newsletter.

You are invited to subscribe to this newsletter and encourage your members to also subscribe: 

Other News and Events

On December 6th, 2011, Canada's digital scene will descend on The Carlu in Toronto for a night devoted to celebrating the best in the business.

Expert Digi Awards juries from across Canada will comb through THE LIST — the definitive index of the Canada's digital elite — for the very brightest stars and biggest disruptors, selecting final Digi Award winners in over 30 categories spanning across content production, technology, advertising, mobile, publishing, and learning services. Click here to get started with your entry to The List. The Awards will be presented in a special gala closing nextMEDIA 2011, Canada's premier digital media conference. 
Final deadline for entries is today.  Don't miss out, ENTER NOW! 

Less than one week left to register for the IIC Annual Conference!

This 2011 IIC Annual Conference will take place on October 3-4 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

With over fifty speakers, and representatives from more than 20 regulatory and public policy organizations from across Africa and around the world, the IIC Annual Conference - now in its 42nd year - will explore today's key issues - issues that directly affect you, your organization and the future. Register your place here

ITAC Members Receive Discounted Registration Rate at GTEC 2011

The 2011 GTEC conference, “Connected Government – Working Together to Better Serve Canadians,” will take place October 17-20, 2011, in Ottawa – and ITAC members will receive a discounted early-bird rate of $795.00!  (Simply enter the promo code: ITAC01.)

GTEC brings together leading public and private sector experts to collaborate on serving citizens better through innovation and technology. Our conference, exhibition and Distinction Awards program celebrate the best of breed technology, and best practice leadership in Canadian and international government.

Given the need to work horizontally across departments and jurisdictions to improve service delivery and diminishing budgets, the pressure on governments to leverage efficient, secure, and reliable technologies has never been higher. In 2011, GTEC will help you prepare for the tsunami of change ahead by gathering delegates from across Canada to collaborate and participate in a variety of policy discussions.

Fore more information, visit:

The Catalyst Canada Honours - October 18, 2011, in Toronto

The Catalyst Canada Honours celebrates individual champions of women in business.  Recognizing that what’s good for women is good for business, these exceptional leaders are personally and visibly committed to the advancement of women and serve as powerful role models for Canadian corporate leaders.

Please join us on October 18, 2011, to recognize The Catalyst Canada Honours 2011 champions.  Contact Jessica Dolmer at to reserve your table now.

Dinner Chair: Bill Downe, President and CEO, BMO Financial Group
When:  6:00 p.m. Reception, 7:00 p.m. Dinner and Ceremony, 9:00 p.m. Evening Concludes
Where:  The Fairmont Royal York, 100 Front Street West, Toronto, Ontario

8th Annual STAN Conference – October 25 and 26, 2011 – Ottawa

Early Bird registration is available for the STAN conference until September 30.  Rooms at the Ottawa Marriott hotel will be held for conference attendees until September 24 so register soon to take advantage of these rates.

The theme of this year’s STAN conference is “Creating a Scientifically Literate Society”.

Keynote Speakers include:

  • Bob McDonald, CBC Radio
  • Robert Hanner, University of Guelph

For more information about the conference and online registration, please visit the Science and Technology Awareness Network (STAN) website at: or contact Sheila Rhodes (

Secure online registration is available at:
Student rates are available.

WITSA Global Public Policy Summit 2011 – November 6-8 in Guadalajara, Mexico

MexicoIT, along with the Mexican Information Technology Industry Association (AMITI) and the Mexican Chamber for the Electronics, Telecommunications and Information Technology Industries (CANIETI), welcomes delegates to the WITSA Global Public Policy Summit 2011, to be held from November 6th to 8th, 2011, in the beautiful city of Guadalajara, Mexico.

Join 500 ICT executives, government officials and policy makers from more than 40 countries to share and learn how to promote the use of ICTs in public policies to overcome social exclusion and improve economic performance, employment opportunities, quality of life, social participation and cohesion.

The WITSA Global Public Policy Summit 2011 is the right place to understand how ICTs, properly used, can be a valuable tool to extract economic and environmental benefit from the increased demands in the new society.

Find more information here:

2012 Edition of the Branham300 – Apply Now!

Entering its 19th year, the Branham300 is a listing that ranks the top publicly-traded and privately-held organizations operating in the Canadian ICT industry by gross revenues.  Appearing on the Branham300 provides companies with FREE exposure to a targeted national audience with comprehensive details on our website ( and through it’s publication in the April/May edition of Backbone Magazine (, which is distributed with the Globe and Mail.  For both up-and-coming firms and industry veterans, recognition on the Branham300 listing has provided Canada’s ICT Industry leaders with increased market exposure and brand awareness, while in many cases also opening the door to new business opportunities, both domestically and abroad.

The application to appear on the 2012 Edition of the Branham300 will remain open until November 30, 2011. Branham Group invites all Canadian ICT companies to visit – - to apply.

For more information about the Branham300, please contact:

Darren Anderson
Branham300 Coordinator
(613) 745-2282 ext. 122

Access the Funding Portal

Every year, Canada's three levels of government invest about $12 billion in grants and contributions, but many companies report that they have little understanding of how to access these resources.

On July 11, 2011, an online bilingual service called THE FUNDING PORTAL launched across Canada to help businesses secure public funding through four easy steps: Find It, Apply for It, Score It and Advance It.

THE FUNDING PORTAL website features TFP Search™, a high-powered search engine that allows users to instantly search all Canadian public funding programs.
Users complete their applications in secure online workrooms and can have their drafts evaluated by the Portal's Expert Review Panel to gain valuable feedback through a TFP Scorecard™.

THE FUNDING PORTAL boasts Canada's top funding experts, including: Marielle Piché, the former Executive Director of the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP); Dr. Kevin Goheen, a respected expert on tax credits (SREDs); and Dr. Sherif Barakat, a recently retired Vice President, National Research Council of Canada (NRC).

Work Placements (Unpaid) to Support Your GTA Projects

Polycultural Immigrant and Community Services (PICS) has been serving the immigrant community in the GTA for more than 35 years.  In 2009 we served more than 20,000 newcomers.  Our services include assistance navigating Canada's housing, education and healthcare systems, English language training, and employment-related support.

Since 2008, Polycultural Immigrant and Community Services has been helping immigrant professionals from a wide variety of fields, including IT, to get connected to employer networks.  Through our Enhanced Language Training / Transition to Employment, over 300 professionals have received a linguistic and cultural orientation, as well as an orientation to Canadian workplace culture and employer expectations.

Part of the Transition to Employment is an unpaid work placement of 4-12 weeks.  It would be our pleasure to connect you with qualified internationally-trained IT professionals (programmers, network professionals, and user support staff).  We can pre-screen and offer interview space, according to your needs. Let us know when we can connect you!

For more information, please contact Jennifer Davies, 416-233-1981,,