The CRTC offers proof of Canadians’ growing appetite for mobile data

A mobile shift, bringing shadow IT into the light and what IT pros can learn from aviators

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Smartphone nation

Here’s some good news from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission that might make mobile carriers smile.

The second part of the CRTC’s 2015 Communications Monitoring Report indicated that some 67% of Canadians owned a smartphone in 2014, up 5 percentage points from 2013. For the first time, there are more Canadians that own a cellphone (up to 79%) than those that have a landline phone. Tablet ownership also grew to 49%.

Wireless networks over which these devices run are also getting faster, according to the CRTC. No less than 93% of Canadians had access to LTE networks last year, up from 81% in 2013.

More devices plus faster networks equal higher data consumption.

Canadians’ wireless data usage went up by 15% last year. The majority of the country’s 28.8 million wireless subscribers now have data plans.

The average smartphone user or owner of a tablet connected to the Internet uses 1 gigabyte of data per month.

It’s the culture, not the pipeline

Whenever the subject of gender diversity in the IT industry comes up, the lack of female students taking up science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses is often blamed.

Journalist Sharon Florentine however posits that c-level executives and managers should investigate their workplace culture rather than their talent pipeline. In her recent article for, she references a 2008 study by Nadya Fouad, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin, co-author Romila Singh, Ph.D., and a team of researchers.

The three-year project sought to find out why women, though making up 20% of engineering graduates for the 20 years, continue to abandon STEM fields at alarming rates.

The researchers found that of those women who left their jobs, nearly half did so because of working conditions such as lack of advancement or low pay. One in three said they left because they did not like the workplace climate, their boss or the workplace culture. One in four left in order to spend more time with family.

Many of the women said they felt undermined by their supervisors and co-workers, Fouad said.

Cloud data centre boom

Global cloud traffic is on track to quadruple by 2019 and that means cloud data centres will be in high demand within the next five years, according to the just- released Cisco Cloud Index report.

Cisco predicts cloud traffic will grow at an annual rate of 33% over the next five years from just 2.1 zettabytes (2.1 GB) in 2014 to 8.6 zettabytes by the end of 2019.

By that time, almost all IT work will be done in cloud data centres, according to Cisco. The company forecasts that as much as 86% of the global data workload will be processed by cloud data centres as the share of traditional data centres shrink to just 14%.

An increasing range of IoT applications is powering the ballooning volume of data. Presently, only a small portion of content is stored in data centres, but Cisco said this will soon change will the use as more businesses apply big data analytics tools on data generated by IoT applications.

Citizen developers and shadow IT

Citizen developers – users who employ corporate IT-sanctioned development and runtime environments to create new business apps for the consumption of other users – may hold the answer to dealing with the problem of shadow IT.

Citizen developer tools are becoming extremely popular within the corporate environment, because they allow business personnel to build apps without having to wait for the IT department to build it for them, according to Mark David, a research director at Gartner.

Unfortunately, he said, many citizen developer platforms are very limited. Access to corporate data is also restricted due to security and regulatory compliance reasons.

But if citizen development is to grow, David said, IT departments have little recourse but to embrace citizen developers while keeping a watchful eye on them. Businesses can counter shadow IT by ensuring that citizen developers are able to work with IT departments, he said.

Best of expertIP

Do you need to boost your videoconferencing capabilities?

Journalist Christine Wong swears by her grandma’s tea leaf reading skills, but she says CIOs and network admins can use a recent study by vendor Vyopta to help map out their company’s video conferencing and video collaboration plans.

The study looked into the video usage of more than 60 large corporations and come up with several key factors that determine video usage in a business. This is pretty useful stuff for anyone pondering what type of video conferencing and video collaboration tools they need to deploy.

Two of the biggest factors affecting video usage are the type of workers employed by the company and where the employees are located.

Companies with a higher percentage of knowledge tend to use more video. The same goes for companies with staff that are widely dispersed geographically.

Flying lessons for IT pros

In many ways, the information security industry can be compared to the aviation industry when it was at its infancy, according to journalist Ryan Patrick.

Both industries went through a lot of public trial and error and crashes before effective protocols and methodologies could be established.

Patrick’s latest blog cites a keynote talk given by Trey Ford, global security strategist at Rapid7, at the recent SecTor 2015 security conference in Toronto.

Ford said IT professionals can also learn a lot from pilots.

Early pilots were doing a lot of things that defied common sense, but they didn’t keep the failures and lessons learned secret but instead shared them with other pilots.

Rather than worry about giving away trade secrets, Ford suggested that IT professionals collaborate and freely share security incidents in order to develop best practices around dealing with security threats.

Why keeping the lights on just don’t cut it anymore

There’s simply just a lot more expected from CIOs these days, according to Bill Briggs, CTO of Deloitte Consulting.

Historically CIOs were measured on the operation part of their job – how they manage cost and drive efficiency with the IT infrastructure and solutions set at their disposal.

These things still matter, but their “just not enough anymore,” he said.

The more technology becomes a part of every facet of the business operation, the more CIOs are expected to be “multi-disciplinary” in their contributions.

Want to be an outstanding CIO?

Cultivate “a presence” with key business partners and customers and develop a more “outward-facing” role beyond IT, Briggs suggested.

The ideal CIO is “a bit of an advocate, a bit of an evangelist, a bit of a strategist” across a lot of areas, he said.

Why innovation is not a one-time thing

Innovation is an “ongoing process and not a one-time thing,” according to Raymond Lahoud, vice-president of network and information technology services at Allstream.

Lahoud spoke on a panel at the Argyle Executive Forum in Toronto where he discussed how innovation has the potential to transform the way organizations develop and exchange value with customers.

He said IT leaders need to break through the “risk aversion” among decision makers at all levels of the business in order to foster innovation.

However, there is no magic formula for creating innovation, said Lahoud, and ironically the IT department itself can be a barrier due to complexity.

“…we tend to add more to our infrastructure – as it’s easier – than consolidate and simplify,” he said.

His approach to encouraging innovation is to inspire curiosity, challenge the perspective, provide freedom, drive discipline and “be willing and ready to take risks.”

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