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Digital technology business stakeholders admit they still have much to learn in order to compete in and navigate commerce in the digital age.

Day Two of the Alberta Technology Symposium in Calgary presented a further opportunity for business leaders to share with one another their hard-earned wisdom.

Expert speakers on the digital economy, digital currency, automation, fintech (financial technologies), health tech, industry regulation, venture capital investment, and agriculture will be addressing attendees on the last day of the symposium.

Koleya Karringten, executive director of the symposium organizer, Canadian Blockchain Consortium, firmly believes Alberta can lead the way in the national arena in the digital revolution.

“Alberta’s tech economy has made incredible progress over the last decade, with significant growth in deal flow and employment, and major wins like the November 2021 announcement of Amazon’s new Calgary data centre. Still, we have far to go in realizing our potential as a hub that will draw thousands of new jobs, attract multinational tech companies, and help us compete in the new disruptive sectors that are completely reshaping the global economy,” Karringten said.

Karringten said the symposium aims “to facilitate the interconnectivity between ecosystems, companies, and government that will accelerate our growth and create new opportunities, while also raising our profile as a tech leader on the international stage.”

Michael McCullough, president of Improving, an IT services firm, offering training, consulting, recruiting, and project services, explained why his business had an interest in the digital symposium. McCullough said gaining awareness of the emerging fields in the tech sector was important for them as an IT services business.

McCullough said his firm needs “to better understand what’s the trends and the current developments are in blockchain, AI and innovation around agriculture, fintech in general, just within our market in Alberta. So [learn about] the growth that we’re seeing — we’re a services company. We’ve worked with a lot of companies here locally, but we’re also part of a company that has offices in the US, Mexico, and Canada. So we’re exposed to not just to this market, but outside of here. So it’s good. It’s good to understand where the growth is happening.”

McCullough said clients sought Improving’s services in order to stay competitive in the difficult-to-navigate and fast-evolving digital realm.

“Needs have changed. They [understand] the importance of technology [and that it’s] changing. It’s becoming more and more meaningful to the success and longevity, or even just the life of [their] business. You have companies not wanting to be left behind. They want to leverage the future, [to embrace] new technology. So they don’t become, you know, like a Blockbuster,” McCullough said, referring to the once massive video-rental chain that has only a single location left world-wide.

Alberta IoT, is an Alberta non-profit with a vast array of technology industry patrons is focused on developing the internet of things in the province. It’s a symposium sponsor and an organization keeping a birds-eye view on the digital frontier in the province and in Canada.

Brenda Beckedorf, executive director, said their focus is on talent and being active in bringing trained people to the sector.

“Our focus is on the talent space because talent is such a big key issue. So we’re rolling out a science park right now that will help support the talent that our industry needs. We’re also bringing together industry and post-secondary to start working together around research,” Beckedorf said.

Getting the talent is critical because, as Beckedorf explained, the IoT is already all around us and touches on almost every arena of our modern lives.

“IoT is in every aspect of your life. You have a watch that tells you how many steps you’re taking and what calories you’re eating — encouraging you to do things. Your fridge is telling you, ‘by the way, your milk is getting low’. You have a Nest system that’s giving you information about your security, or leakage in the water tank. That’s all IoT. So it’s data gathering information for you,” Beckedorf said.

Beckedorf spoke about how the IoT industry and its stakeholders are tackling the hot-button issues of privacy and security that come with the gathering of such vast and unprecedented amounts of — sometimes very personal — data collected on consumers using SMART consumer appliances.

“There is a lot of security being put in place around our software and our sensors. But I also do believe the consumer needs education around cybersecurity. We live in a world where being hacked is quite common. That’s quite common, even for an average person with their credit card being hacked, or their bank information being hacked. We need to educate consumers. We no longer can just sit at home and just [say] ‘I don’t know what’s going on out there.’ And it’s a bit scary. We actually do need to come out and learn about it,” Beckedorf said.

Alberta IoT is working with the provincial government to educate the general public and industry on all things IoT.

The Alberta Technology Symposium concludes at the end of Thursday in Calgary.

Amanda Brown is a reporter with the Western Standard

Twitter: @WS_JournoAmanda

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