Delegates from more than 80 countries will descend on Montreal this year for the world’s leading information technology gathering. From Oct. 22 to 24, the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) 2012 will see up to 3,000 delegates and 100 high-profile speakers from around the world meet for three days to discuss the benefits digital technology can bring to society, healthcare, education, urban living, national competitiveness and cloud computing.
“It’s like the Olympics of information communications technology,” said Francois Morin, CEO of WCIT 2012, of the biennial event that features top business leaders and recognized thinkers from government and academia. “We actually won the ability to host it back in 2008, so it’s a real privilege to have it here in Montreal.”
Morin says the event has evolved over the years from one that was historically more vendor driven to a more user-focused agenda. “In today’s world, every company has to look at IT through the eyes of the user, and that makes it very interesting. Now the user is at the middle of all ideas in technology.”
It’s a trend Morin thinks will continue to become even more prominent in upcoming years.
He attributes social media to creating that heavy user balance. In early June, WCIT held with IBM a World Tech Jam to kick off the Congress. This virtual platform solicited specific ideas and captured the pulse of IT users and stakeholders in 70 different countries, and included sectors such as healthcare, education, urban living, energy and sustainability, and media and culture. The Global Digital Society Action Plan resulting from this collaboration will help further guide WCIT 2012’s focus on user issues.
“It’s a bit like crowdsourcing, but it’s idea sourcing,” Morin said.
Collaboration technologies will play a major role in this year’s event. For example, television and radio personality Larry King will host a panel of eight special VIP guests linked via satellite using Cisco TelePresence suites. “So we’re using technology to help discuss technology,” Morin said. “It will be very interesting to see thought leaders around the world discussing the impact of technology on our society.”
And the spirit of ideas and innovation will be alive and well at WCIT 2012. The conference in October will be co-hosting the United Nations’ World Summit Youth Awards (WSYA), a celebration of youth and innovation. The award showcases the ability of youth to create exceptional digital content and will feature winning projects from youth around the world in 12 categories.
As well as serving as a platform for UN member states to reach their own innovation goals, the WSYA awards being held in Montreal will hopefully act as a lightning rod for inspiring local innovation. “We definitely need role models in Montreal, and even in Canada, with the decrease we’ve been seeing in ICT enrollment in universities across the country,” Morin said. “This will help us promote the importance of innovation, and for youth to choose an ICT career.”
To help promote and build useful connections, WCIT 2012 has also created a B2B network that delegates can register for and book meetings prior to October. With top-level representatives from ICT companies and over 30 countries incorporating the scheduling platform, which launches in August, attendees can make the most of their experience.
Closer to home on the innovation front, WCIT 2012 will be the host of the C200 Investment Forum. This forum provides a premium networking opportunity for 200 early-stage
Canadian companies looking for funding and invited members of the international investment community.
“It’s a very aggressive program this year,” Morin said of the many keynotes, forums and highlighted activities happening at WCIT 2012. “I think we’re going to see great results from it.”
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