Chris J Powell

The Quest is Over

The Quest you may ask…what did you find well the Quest that I mention is the Quest for Canada’s Smartest IT.  I have been fortunate enough to work with some of Canada’s Smartest and Greenest IT Departments for the past two years with this program and last night at the historical Capital Theatre in Toronto the 2012 winners of Canada’s Smartest and Greenest IT Departments were announced.

The Sponsors of the event did an absolutely amazing job of making the event accessible and a ton of fun for everyone in attendance last night.  The sponsors included Info-Tech Research Group, IBM Canada, Samsung, the Globe and Mail and Avaya.  In addition there were several partners that made it possible BTS Blair, CIPS, Microage and Sentia.


A little background on the Quest itself, this year’s event marked the second annual award that looked coast to coast across our great nation in 2010 / 2011 and looked for the innovators, the heroes and the champions of technology across this great nation.  The focus is on three distinct categories and participants in the quest can submit nominations in any or all of the categories:

  1. Smartest IT rewards companies using IT in innovative ways to help their business and/or their community.
  2. Greenest IT recognizes companies using technology to help the environment, enhance sustainability, or demonstrate social responsibility.
  3. Wow Story is a wild card award that honors the best “story” that we hear over the course of the nominations process. We encourage you to tell us your story today – what is business-as-usual to you, to your peers may well be an eye-opening way of using IT.


Having worked with the Greenest IT Department the Earth Rangers last year and having the distinct pleasure of visiting the facility with my daughter last summer but to explain the situation I defer to what those at had to say about the winners last year.


2010 Winners

Blue Mountain Resorts won the Smartest IT award, for deploying virtualization to enhance all aspects of the customer experience. They demonstrated that investing in the right technology can revitalize a business in any industry.

The Dufferin Peel Catholic School Board placed second in the Smartest IT category for their exceptional work in ensuring that all students, even those who are physically or socio-economically disadvantaged, can use technology to learn.

Earth Rangers is a non-profit organization that won the Greenest IT award. They used virtualization in their carbon neutral Earth Rangers Centre, a living demonstration site for green products and services.

Professional Engineers Ontario won second prize for Greenest IT, for the sustainability initiatives within their association. The PEO governs over 80,000 licensed engineers in Ontario.

The Hospital for Sick Children were the Wow Story winners of 2010, using IT to ensure that kids in Canada would get the very best healthcare, with the least possible complications. Their implementation of Electronic Health Records has been copied by hospitals all over North America.


But 2011 is a new year and in a year that has seen Canada’s Global Ranking in Competitiveness has seen us fall out of the Top 10 and as the CEO (Chief Enthusiasm Officer) for the Quest James Alexader put it, the energy that those who participated in the Quest renew hope that the decline in just a blip in the radar of a bigger picture for long term recovery in an increasingly difficult world that we live in today.


In walking around the historic theatre, enjoying the complimentary hors d’oeuvres, some great new and old connections both from my employer as well as my client who came in from Winnipeg, MB just for this event (he had to fly out first thing in the morning for an important meeting) I could not help but think about how lucky I am to live and work in this great Country how every day millions of hard working Canadians are doing the right thing for the environment, focusing on being the best that they can be or just plain paying it forward to the communities which they support.


For the 2011 Winners of Quest for Canada’s Smartest IT:


Smartest IT

Apollo Machinery – Tool Wall (BC) found a way to reduce the setup time on CNC machines from a few hours to a few minutes. This means they can take smaller orders, and customers can hold smaller inventories, making this is a game changer for manufacturing in this country.


Greenest IT

Lipton Chartered Accountants (ON) transformed the entire firm into going paperless, in an industry that is typically resistant to change. Lipton proves that it is possible for accountants, lawyers, and consultants to greatly reduce the use of paper across the board, from client visits to internal filing.


WOW Award

Pembina Trails (MB) invested in Dark Fibre while everyone else was cutting costs. Today, they have so much bandwidth, they provide free public internet to disadvantaged neighbourhoods. And while many others are combating infrastructure problems, Pembina is busy preparing for the future.


I look forward to next years quest and the rounding out of my connection to the Award when I help to support the Smartest IT Recipient as their Account Manager,  because whether by luck or by skill…I am two for two when it comes to working with the best in Canada…and I don’t intend on letting up anytime soon with timely support, world class service and well a little bit of humour from time to time.


Cheers and Congratulations to all of the finalists from across Canada.  I look forward to seeing you all back next year.




Chris J Powell

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