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Talent and diversity to drive this year’s Elevate tech festival

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The Elevate Tech festival is only one year old, but after watching this week’s launch event at Shopify’s Toronto HQ, it appears that Canada’s largest tech festival has grown by leaps and bounds.

Elevate will run in Toronto from September 24-27, with 10,000 attendees expected and 250 venues taking part. Notable speakers on this year’s main stage will include Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder of dating app Bumble, and environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore.

Celebrating Canada’s talent

This year’s festival will put a big emphasis on talent, one of Canada’s greatest assets when it comes to tech innovation. Elevate is teaming up with Startup Open House, as well as last year’s partners NewCo, to help connect 4,000 students, job-seekers, and young professionals with some of the many great companies driving Canada’s innovation ecosystem.

While last year’s festival made the point of putting Toronto and its tech innovation ecosystem on the global stage, the conversation has broadened for Elevate 2018. Now billed as Canada’s Tech Week, CEO Razor Suleman said the 2018 festival will shed light on Canada’s growing tech landscape as a whole, and even reach out to Canadian expats around the globe, letting them know that things are moving in the right direction back home.

Collaboration, diversity and growing together

For Suleman, the biggest lesson learned from last year’s Elevate, and the biggest opportunity for 2018, is the strength of collaboration that made the festival possible.

“Partnering with the community and being open and collaborative is the best way to create something that we’re all passionate about, and ultimately scale the festival and realize the vision we have,” said Suleman.

Crucial to that collaboration is showing the diverse nature of Canada’s innovation community. Just as at last year’s Elevate, the motto ‘Diversity is our strength’ is key to Canada’s Tech Week. Suleman said that this year’s festival will continue to seek out new ways to reach out to diverse parts of Canada’s innovation community and get them involved.

“This year when we looked at the ten-thousand-person capacity that we have, we broke down the different demographics and wanted to make sure that we got representation. We’re super passionate, as is our parter TD, about involving students. We’ve got the Investor Group coming. We’d love to have more female investors, we’d love to have more women in tech, we’d love to have entrepreneurs that are visible minorities. All of the ecosystem is welcome.”

Between big name speakers, the emphasis on talent and the continued commitment to diversity, Elevate’s 2018 offering is sure to stir creative innovation and collaboration.

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Intel embraces DX at Data-Centric Innovation Day

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Intel’s recent Data-Centric Innovation Day in San Francisco showed how the company is putting digital transformation at the forefront of its business strategy, to build a bridge from its former position as the big name in PC CPUs, toward a more agile future. In a competitive world of business technology startups and scaleups, Intel is putting its DX foot forward, and showing how the company’s own innovations can help its global customers to embrace the wins that comes with digital transformation.

While the event was a product launch for all intents and purposes, there was a bigger story going on at Data-Centric Innovation Day: the positioning of Intel as a data-centric enterprise and the company’s emphasis on collaboration with its customers around the world as they undertake digital transformation.

At the event’s outset, Intel CEO Robert Swan predicted that the company’s data-centric total addressable market will be 200 billion by 2022. As a continually growing number of organizations move to the cloud, and C-suites continue to look to AI and analytics to develop their competitive advantage, this kind of market growth for the IT giant seems reasonable.

At the core of Intel’s data-driven shift is the customer experience. As Swan stated at the event, Intel is looking to become ‘customer-obsessed’ through the company’s new focus on data. While the role of a processor or a new hardware product within enterprise organizations has not radically shifted — it remains just one piece within the larger technology structures powering digital transformation — Intel’s attitude around their hardware and software offerings, and how they play into the customer’s overall business technology experience, has certainly taken a big leap forward.

The 2nd-Gen Intel Xeon Scalable Processors are all about data and digital transformation.

In a press release for the event, Navin Shenoy, Intel executive vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group, noted that the new technology was all about putting data first:

“Today’s announcements reflect Intel’s new data-centric strategy. The portfolio of products announced today underscores our unmatched ability to move, store and process data across the most demanding workloads from the data center to the edge. Our 2nd-Generation Xeon Scalable processor with built-in AI acceleration and support for the revolutionary Intel Optane DC persistent memory will unleash the next wave of growth for our customers.”

Intel unveiled a new range of products, including the next generation of Xeon Scalable Processors. The new Xeon line was designed with DX tasks in mind, and the processors look to aid Intel clients with AI processes, cloud and edge computing and with running rapidly growing workloads. The new processors feature DL Boost, a unique inference acceleration offering designed specifically for AI-heavy processes.

Intel

Lisa Davis (left), Intel’s VP of Data Center Group and General Manager of Digital Transformation and Scale Solutions, unveils new security solutions.

The technology giant also emphasized the security enhancements of the new range. VP of Digital Transformation at Intel, Lisa Davis, announced during the event that Intel has partnered with Lockheed Martin to create hardened, full-stack security solutions for CIOs and CESOs. Processing and moving more data than ever requires ever-evolving security, and Intel made a point of emphasizing their dedicating to this element of their new product line.

DX at the heart of Intel’s announcements

For an established tech company like Intel to take on data in such a massive way should be no surprise to digital transformation diehards. But for those still hesitant to take on data management as a bigger part of their organization, Intel’s focus on moving, storing and processing every bit of client data should act as a wakeup call for those still holding out when it comes to digital transformation efforts.

The shape that Intel’s technology is taking, as innovations like DL Boost and the cloud-centric nature of the company’s new security offerings show, is all about meeting the digital transformation needs of customers around the world.

“You can’t digitally transform as an organization if you’re focused on aging IT practices,” said Intel Canada’s Phil Vokins during an interview on the day of the event. “I think the one thing we’ve seen today which we should all be excited about is the range of capabilities and performance that we’re enabling, which was unthinkable even a couple of years ago. It’s not just about the performance of the processor, but look at the memory we can have per socket now. This will really enable businesses to take advantage of the information they have.”

Collaboration with partners and clients key

This focus on a holistic approach to data is not something Intel is doing on its own. The emphasis of Intel’s Data-Centric Innovation Day was so clearly on collaboration, with many major players in the IT and enterprise world contributing to the event. During his keynote, Shenoy was vocal about Intel’s broad set of partners and customers, emphasizing branching out and building a bigger business ecosystem.

Every technology showcased during the product launch was tied back to one of Intel’s global partners: AWS, Vodafone, Twitter, Microsoft, Alibaba, and other companies were featured and promoted through Intel’s own announcements. Featuring partners like this led to some very conversational panels on the nitty gritty of DX throughout the day’s events. But this collaborative approach to the technology also highlighted another aspect of Intel’s digital transformation journey.

Vokins said that, for Intel, the process of digital transformation is also a question of interpreting what’s happening in the world of business technology and turning that information into valuable insights to improve performance.

“We’re in a very fortunate position, given our market share, that we have huge amounts of information and resources and access to leading businesses. So we need to make sure that we can disseminate, understand and rearticulate that information back.”

Vokins emphasized the need to collaborate around each digital transformation insight, “so that we can all learn from it, and learn how customers are embracing technology to rapidly improve performance.”

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Three speakers you can’t miss at Big Data Toronto 2019

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The 4th annual Big Data Toronto will bring 150 experts in front of thousands of attendees eager to navigate the world of big data. From analytics best practices to future-proofing your data strategy, the conference will unleash a wealth of data-oriented knowledge.

The conference, which takes place on June 12th and 13th at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, will host experts covering topics essential to modern businesses, as well as product demos and skill-based workshops.

Make sure you follow this link to grab a free pass to the event. But once you get inside, what does Big Data Toronto 2019 have in store for you? We’ve highlighted three of the speakers that you can’t miss out on.

1) Jennifer Nguyen – Lead Data Scientist, Sun Life Financial

Insurance is an industry that’s been steeped in data for decades. Having the knowledge to track and drive insights from that data can create immense value for enterprises like Sun Life FinancialJennifer Nguyen led analytics efforts at the Globe & Mail before becoming Sun Life Financial’s Lead Data Scientist, a position in which she helps the company’s clients by building intelligent data solutions.

2) Patrick Surry – Chief Data Scientist, Hopper

Hopper is a major player in the $800 billion industry of travel bookings. The company reports over 35 million installations of its app — and smart use of data has helped the Montreal-based company make that impact. Patrick Surry is a leading practitioner of global analytics, working with Hopper to extract insights and create a wealth of value from the large volumes of travel data that the company works with on a daily basis.

3) Sina Shahandeh – VP of Data Science, Ecobee

Ecobee’s smart home devices are driving the world toward a greener future. Their data-driven solutions for customers are helping homeowners to reduce their carbon footprint and save money on energy costs. Last year, the company closed its Series C funding round to bring Ecobee’s total funding up to $200 million. Sinah Shahandeh heads Ecobee’s machine learning and AI efforts, leading the design of human-centric AI for the company’s line of products.

 

Check out the Big Data Toronto 2019 website for more details.

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The mesh conference is back, new focus aimed at digital transformation

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The mesh conference is back. After taking a break for a few years, the mesh conference officially relaunched in Toronto yesterday. The event series focuses on digital transformation (DX) and takes places as a series of meetups, as well as a big conference–currently slated to take place October 2019.

The first meetup took place last night at Spaces and included a presentation around new digital transformation research findings, a rapid-fire interview spotlight with three companies and — of course — plenty of meshing. 

Sheri Moore, one of the of the original founders of mesh, kicked off the event by emphasizing how important collaboration has been to mesh in the past, and how the new DX focus will carry that torch forward.

New original research from DJG and Chestnut Research was also presented to attendees, with the focus being on employees and talent.

DJG Vice President of Strategy, David Potter, presented the research and shared insight on how leaders need to think seriously about the connection between digital transformation trends and the war for talent, as well as how employees should be taking their own DX education seriously in light of technological advances reshaping so many industries.

Readers who want to get the full scoop can sign up to receive the full report when it becomes available.

Three companies from vastly different industries also joined in the night’s proceedings to show attendees a cross-section of the business ideas flourishing in the Canadian ecosystem:

1) Matas Sriubiskis of Zoom.ai discussed how his company’s AI-driven chatbot is helping businesses augment human talent by automating simple tasks throughout organizations;

2) Ivan Tsarynny of Feroot Privacy indicated the radical shift that has occurred within startups and the larger business world due to GDPR and other consent-entrenched policies;

3) Ali Ghafour of 2020 Armor described his company’s efforts to bring the excitement of Street Fighter to life in martial arts matches and lessons through the use of electronic chestguards.

If you missed this first mesh meetup, keep your eyes fixed on the mesh website for information about future events.

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