Why does Canadian adoption and use of cloud lag the US? It’s a question that we’ve been hearing for years, the one that led to the launch of the Toronto Cloud Business Coalition (TCBC). But it isn’t the right question for today. In the current context, ‘why is cloud lagging?’ is becoming an academic issue. What is pressing now is ‘how can Ontario SMBs build viable, competitive business infrastructure on top of cloud? What is the path forward to the agility and reach and efficiency and profitability that cloud supports?’
We have reviewed similar SMB events In the US, to understand how to make sure that the Canadian SMB Cloud Summit delivers the greatest possible benefit to attendees. Here are seven ways that we’re making this a great event for SMBs, reflecting what we’ve learned:
- Make sure that the event is unbiased: TCBC and the Government of Ontario – the founding partners in the SMB Cloud Summit – share a commitment to the success of Canadian businesses, but we have no specific products or services to promote – we can focus tightly on creating a successful outcome for attendees.
- Assemble a critical mass of community members: we are targeting 120 SMBs, plus another 30 of the channel members who act as outsourced IT management resources for SMBs, to ensure that there is great potential for peer-level discussions.
- Develop a logical program: commercial events generally respond to the needs of the sponsors, not the attendees. We are working from a framework used in the curriculum for the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies course 2856-Cloud Systems in Practice. The event is geared towards learning and exploration, not promotion.
- Leave lots of time for Q&A and networking: many events try to fill all available minutes with presentations. We are building in morning, mid-day and end-of day networking breaks, and inserting time for Q&A within each agenda module.
- Make sure that there is a rich and diverse group of resources available for Q&A and networking: We are inviting thought leaders from TCBC, and assembling a group of Advisors who can provide one-on-one answers to questions. Including panelists, sponsors, and experts from the channel, we expect to have approximately 50 people in the room to answer detailed questions!
- Make the follow-up information instructive and meaningful: too often, event attendees become enthused by an idea but aren’t provided with further guidance. For example, you might see a slide that persuades you that you would benefit from effective cloud planning – and then find that the follow-up materials include that slide, but no additional insight. We are creating a post-event library that contains Canadian Best Practice report and other information sources, so that attendees who want to follow up on a discussion point have ready access to further research materials.
- Connect with the broader community: The SMB Cloud Summit isn’t a stand-alone event; it’s attached to the DatacenterDynamics Connected Canada 4.0 event that is being held at the same venue (Metro Toronto Convention Centre) the next day. SMB attendees will have an opportunity to meet with Connected Canada 4.0 VIPs at the end-of-day reception, and will be registered for the next day’s event. As a teaser – the opening two hours of Connected Canada 4.0 is dedicated to a roundtable discussion involving eight senior industry leaders, six of whom are confirmed: the CTO of the Government of Canada, and the Canadian heads of Microsoft, HPE, AWS, Google Cloud and Equinix. The tracks immediately following that plenary will include a session presented by Dr. Ann Cavoukian on privacy, and another (which I’m hosting) on optimizing hybrid IT which will feature input from Joe Belinsky of Moneris, Michael Loftus of CIBC and Ian Rae of CloudOps.
We’re very gratified by the support we’ve received from the community! We have (and we’ll update this as necessary) more than 90 registrants, 15 panelists and expert advisors to act as resources for attendees, and sponsorship from:
- The Government of Ontario
- TA Networks
- City of Toronto
- Silicon Halton
Many thanks to all who have committed to the event…and to those who will join in as we get closer to December 13th!