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CENGN Summit 2021: Embracing Digital Disruption


CENGN Summit 2021 brought together tech leaders from around the world to discuss, collaborate, and present the future of next-generation network technology. Thanks to the expert speakers, insightful panel discussions, and important networking opportunities, CENGN Summit 2021 was a success.

The day was packed with presentations and panels on the hottest topics in disruptive tech. Discussing the potential of 5G in Canada, the importance of IT sustainability, and the reality of Industry 4.0, it was great to see the tech ecosystem come together to collaborate and discuss the technologies that are revolutionizing the industry. CENGN Summit was completely virtual, and our new online platform allowed attendees to navigate the sessions and network with ease. 

CENGN also announced their Student of the Year award, which went to Lauryn MacGillivary and Aaron Buitenwerf!

So, what specifically happened at this year’s CENGN Summit?

Here are the highlights.

Keynote Presentations: Canada’s Digital Opportunity

Canada's Digital Transformation Opportunity

The summit had three keynote speakers who focused on Canada’s future in digital technology through digital transformation, open-source technology, and the future of 5G.

Canada’s digital economy is making a comeback with employment in the digital sector being 12% higher than before the pandemic. CENGN’s CEO, JC Fahmy, kicked off the summit by talking about Canada’s opportunity for digital transformation moving forward. He highlighted that “it’s only through the deployment and adoption of next-generation network technologies that we will realize our full potential.”

Canada can enable digital transformation by supporting commercial opportunities with Canadian telcos and governments, investing in national testbeds, funding commercialization programs, addressing the talent shortage, and collaborating in academic-industry projects. Technology adoption enables economic growth, achieves climate targets and connects all Canadians in the nation.

Openness: Driving the Modern Business - Nokia Perspective

Our second keynote speaker, Jonne Soininen, Head of Open Source at Nokia, talked about the increased usage of open source in the telecommunications industry. He explored the topic of openness from Nokia’s perspective, highlighting four key pillars that openness is built on: open forums, open interfaces, open ecosystems, and open culture. Jonne emphasized the importance of open source in today’s business world and stated that “if you’re not considering open source and openness in general, you’re probably doing something wrong.”

Robert Ghiz, President and CEO of CWTA, examined the state of 5G in Canada and the future of wireless networks. In Canada, the speed of 5G adoption is higher than any previous generation of mobile technology. 5G technology is designed to help power and support the shift to the next industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, which is a major advantage for Canadian businesses.  Robert noted, “it’s estimated that by the end of 2021, at least 70% of the Canadian population will have access 5G.”

Importance of IT Sustainability

Importance of Sustainable IT

Climate change is arguably the most pressing issue facing our world today. The IT Sustainability panel, moderated by Katie Gibson, Vice President of Strategy and Partnerships at the CIO Strategy Council, addressed the challenges in building environmentally sustainable data centres and networks. The panel featured Catherine Jacques-Brissette, Senior Analyst at Bell Canada, John Weigelt, National Technology Officer at Microsoft, and Fernando Carou, Manager of Public Energy Initiatives at the City of Toronto.

The ICT sector is a significant source of GHG emissions. Internet and data centre usage is already the cause of more greenhouse gases than the aviation industry and is on track to make up 8 percent of emissions by 2025. The panellists stressed the importance for organizations to prioritize sustainable IT practices to combat the GHG emissions produced by the industry. Catherine noted, “We recognize that we have a twofold responsibility: minimize negative environmental impacts of our operations and create positive impacts where possible.”

The panellists also dove into the different strategies being used by key network stakeholders to curb carbon emissions, including the Sustainable IT Pledge. “We are increasing the amount of renewable energy we’re using within our data centres and are on the path to 100% renewable energy,” said John.

Tech Track

Cybersecurity

How Not to be the Next Cybersecurity Headline in 5 Steps

Our tech track started strong with four industry leaders discussing important aspects of cybersecurity. Ed Kingscote, DevOps Specialist at CANARIE presented best practices for cybersecurity in a presentation titled “How Not to be the Next Cybersecurity Headline in 5 Steps.”

Ed’s steps included:

John Burroughs, Global Solutions Architect at Fortinet, dove into the ways we can use artificial intelligence to deliver proactive threat detection at machine speed and scale. “Machine learning is a subset of AI; it’s about training machines to make predictions,” he noted while explaining the basics of machine learning. Machine learning is critical to keep up with the evolving threat landscape. It allows autonomous collection, analysis, and classification of threats, allowing threat analysts and network operators to focus on strategic work rather than threat detection. 

Allen Dillon, Co-Founder and CEO of Sapper Labs Cyber Solution and Eric Fournier, Director General of R&D Innovation at IDEaS spoke about IDEaS’ mandate and access to the innovation program. IDEaS supports the development of solutions by helping push technology forward from early R&D to a demonstrable level that can increase defence capabilities.

Cloud Computing and IoT

Challenges of Delivering Cloud Computing

The last section of the tech track focused on cloud computing and internet of things technology. Kevin Howe-Patterson, CTO & VP PLM at Kandy Communications discussed the challenges of delivering boundaryless cloud services in private, public and hybrid models.

These challenges included:

Moh Ahmed, Site Reliability Engineer at CENGN, challenged the traditional concept of monitoring in his discussion. He also presented a use case in which modern observability tools can be used to identify, isolate, and resolve a problem. “Observability is the practice of using your system’s outputs to tell how it’s doing. The more questions you can answer about your system, the more observable the system is,” he explained.

To close out the tech track program, Natasha D’Souza, Product Manager at CIRA, discussed digital identity innovation for IoT devices. The Internet of Things has opened a world of possibilities for connectivity and efficiency, but it also introduces a massive security risk. “The next generation of IoT deployments are going to impact a wide variety of highly sensitive services, such as healthcare or critical infrastructure, where secure device identity management is paramount,” she stated.

Innovation Track

Digital Government

Ontario's Digital Government

Our innovation track began with an insightful presentation by Hillary Hartley, Chief Digital, and Data Officer at the Government of Ontario and was followed by her fireside chat with CENGN’s President and CEO, JC Fahmy. Hillary discussed Ontario’s path to become a leading digital jurisdiction in Canada. The province embraces a people-first focus to modernize working methods across the public sector and bring about sustained digital change. They do this by enabling multidisciplinary product teams to deliver simpler, faster, and better government for all.

“We must flip the leadership paradigm. From leaders as enforcers to leaders as enablers,” Hillary noted.

Efficient leadership will help us succeed in the digital era of the future.

Next-Generation Wireless Networks and AI

Next, Eric Parsons, VP and Head of Product Development Unit Cloud RAN at Ericsson and uOttawa’s Dr. Melike Erol-Kantarci, Research Chair in AI-Enabled Next-Generation Wireless networks, teamed up to discuss the newest trends in 5G networks and explored how Ericsson takes advantage of collaborating with the open ecosystem. Eric discussed the future of wireless communications and how the Ericsson Open Lab is bringing the networks of the future to the market and into operation.

Dr. Erol-Kantarci dove into the role that artificial intelligence and deep learning play in next-generation wireless networks. “The complexity of next-generation networks will only increase, and data analytics will extend beyond human comprehension,” she explains.

Therefore, we should resort to using AI to enable further innovation of these technologies.

The Future of Digital Health

The last session of our innovation track focused on the importance of digital health and the technologies leveraging the health care industry. Dr. Marzieh Amini, Assistant Professor at Carleton University, discussed pervasive healthcare as a solution for future healthcare services. “Pervasive healthcare supports the continuous well-being and care of people rather than focusing on acute treatment and care,” she explains.

Dr. Amini was followed by Kevin Magee, Chief Security Officer at Microsoft, who explored how we can create a cyber-resilient healthcare system ready to withstand the modern threats healthcare providers face today. He dove into the digital transformation that is happening within healthcare due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the importance of creating secure systems.

Daniel Zikovitz, Senior Solution Architect at General Electric, was our final speaker on Digital Health, examining the healthcare delivery priorities that are shaping new digital and AI technologies. He dove into the key enablers that lead to the adoption of digital technologies such as intelligent workflows, AI integration at point of care, distributed care models and subscription solutions to drive value-based care.

What Will the “Future of Work” Look Like?

What will the future of work look like?

To close out the CENGN Summit 2021 program, Linda Nazareth, Economist and Author, moderated the “Evolving Needs of the Tech Workforce” panel. Panellists included Andrea Bartlett, Director of People Operations at Humi, Samer Geissah, Director of Technology, Strategy and Architecture at TELUS, and Oleg Tolchinsky, VP of Architecture Sales at Cisco Canada.

The panel explored the latest trends in Canada’s economic landscape and their impacts on the future of Canadian businesses. They discussed the potential permanent effects of the pandemic on the workforce, including remote work, cybersecurity, and creating a positive work environment. “Understanding what your employees want first is the key to creating positive work culture’, said Andrea, stressing the importance of an employee-first mindset. Retraining employees in leadership positions may also be necessary in a remote work environment.

“82% of employees in Canada don’t actively contribute to virtual meetings,” said Oleg. Redefining remote leadership to keep employees engaged and motivated is essential. 

Effective leadership is a key element to creating a positive remote work culture.

Looking forward to the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0), there will be many changes in our work methods. “We are at a place now where you can work from anywhere,” said Linda. In the future, companies will strive for efficiency as a top priority. They will have to change the way they do things, change the tech they are using, and find the right people to run the systems they need.

Until Next Year!

On behalf of CENGN, I would like to thank everyone who attended our Summit this year. It was an event that truly symbolized the collaborative nature of the tech ecosystem and brought together Canada’s innovation leaders from business, government, and academia in one place.

I would also like to thank all our sponsors listed below for their support and for making this CENGN Summit possible:

Platinum Sponsor: CWTA

Gold Sponsors: University of Ottawa, Carleton University, DND (IDEaS),

Silver Sponsors: CANARIE, ORION

Exhibitors: TP-Link, KRP Properties, BC Tech Association, Bell, Bio Enterprise, Cisco, Exfo, Juniper Networks, Kandy Communications, Mitel, Nokia, Ribbon Communications, TELUS, Wind River

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About the Author

Sasha Moonilal is a Content Writer Marketing student at CENGN (Fall 2021) and a Communications student at the University of Ottawa. Her passions lie in creating compelling content and collaborating with other highly driven and creative people. In her spare time, Sasha enjoys dancing, cooking and reading.

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