Namir Anani, President and CEO of the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), is the chief strategist and driving force in bringing ICTC's world-class centre of expertise and services to industry, education and government; enabling Canada's advancement as a leader in innovation and productivity in the global economy.
Before joining ICTC, Namir previously led Policy Development & Research at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). He has also held several executive leadership roles in both the private and public sectors including: the Department of Canadian Heritage (Director General & CEO), CGI Consulting, Nortel, and Novartis (Switzerland). Mr. Anani's experience extends to strategic policy development and implementation, learning and capacity building, business transformation, national/international strategic alliances, economic and market research, and technology innovation.
Namir holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Electrical Engineering from the University of Salford (UK) and holds the Professional Engineer designation in Ontario (P. Eng.).
To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link
Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic
To drive innovation and ICT capacity building, what are your specific ICT investment recommendations for: government, industry, investors, the general public, the individual, education and research?
"....We live in a very global, fast paced environment and I think it's clear that some of the important innovators in our society today are the youth that we should target, going forward....They are the ones who are digital natives and are able to adapt to business models, new technologies and services and can compete on a local and a global environment...."
Related to the last question, what are the best models and resource links to drive innovation and ICT capacity building for any country internationally to emulate? (These models or resource links could be from: government, industry, investment, the general public, individuals, and education and research.)
"....There are some excellent approaches that are taking place in Canada in terms of capacity-building (connecting industry with industry, connecting industry with academic environments as well as to bridge the skills gap)....I think that the concept of a hub that nurtures and helps organizations in every country is a very important dimension...."
What are the top ICT challenges for: government, industry, academia and media?
"....It's really a challenge of a global environment, a challenge of helping industry set-up, and a challenge of ensuring that we are able to leverage all the human capital in Canada in the most efficient and most effective way going forward...."
What are the top ICT opportunities for: government, industry, academia and media?
"....Every country has thought of developing a digital strategy. We believe that rather than have a broad brush on a digital strategy and then seeking the talent, it would be better to potentially concentrate on emerging sectors with the highest concentration of GDP output and eventually creating jobs....To date, the belief is still that we are creating the jobs of today; we really should be thinking about the jobs of tomorrow...."
What are your recommendations and the best models for ICT innovation programs and ICT infrastructure?
"....I mentioned that in Europe, they have the European e-Skill association (a community stakeholder supporting the development of e-skills). In Canada — the Communitech approach — which brings industry to industry collaboration....It's a hub of nurturing innovation and connecting industries, connecting industry and academia....In general there are many approaches that help that development...."
Namir shares some recommendations and the best models for R&D Laboratories (partnering Universities with Government and Industry).
What are your recommendations and the best models for [public] institutes for supporting ICT companies?
"....One part of our organization is non-profit so our mandate is to provide talent solutions to industry. We are strengthening our offering not only for the technology point of view, but also from labor market intelligence and from the policy point of view. We try to support ICT industries that are now cutting across all sectors of the economy to help them determine what the forecasts are and talent needs to help build that in Canada, or how to attract it internationally...."
A question comes to mind about innovation/incubation, accelerator centers, venture funding programs, anything that provides seed funding or entrepreneurship support. You've mentioned Communitech, but there's others as well. Do you have any other recommendations and the best models for anything to do with incubation, acceleration, seed funding, venture funding, entrepreneurship programs?
"....Communitech is really a very good example on that, but there are certainly many others....Wavefront, which specifically helps the wireless industry advance its goals....There are multiple ways of providing or creating that incubation in Canada; that's either through funding, industry support and sponsorship or government intervention, and it might take a multitude of those to make it happen...."
This next question is about e-government (e-finance, e-health, e-education, e-business), anything where the government is involved. Do you have any ideas or recommendations or best models of where Canada is situated in terms of e-government?
"....There's a lot of development taking place within the government for e-services. We're leading the way in that environment. As technology evolves, citizens' expections expand in that environment and these have to be rethought, redeveloped and reshaped....I look at government as a model-adopter in that environment. In staffing processes, I'm a great believer that in any country, government is a model-adopter and should be the one leading the way in terms of how things roll out...."
How much of global GDP is driven by ICT and the Internet and why?
"....From a Canadian perspective we know that ICT, per se, contributes to approximately 5% of GDP, which is 60 billion dollars, but that is only the IC sector. We haven't factored in where ICT plays a role in some of the industries, whether it's in administration, e-health, etc....The contribution going forward is going to be tremendous to the global economy...."
From your perspective, how large is the ICT sector in trillions for 2012 and 2015 versus 2010 and what are factors driving its growth?
"....We are seeing the global ICT growing at 3 - 4 percent annually and that's a high growth specifically in an environment with all that is going on....We are seeing a lot of growth in China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa and these are the countries that are driving the growth in that environment, and by doing so obviously competing with global talent that I mentioned earlier....We have recently highlighted in our skills forecast that Canada by 2016 will be looking for approximately 106,000 critical jobs that need filled, with the demand far outweighing the supply...."
You have already indicated that we are going to have skills shortage in Canada and you're doing a lot of work trying to meet that demand by providing these research reports, working with industry, government, academia and so on. This is encapsulated in the job reports that you come out with periodically. I encourage the audience to look at it when those reports come out. Are they available to the public?
"....There is some information that's specific to an industry sector or province or municipality. All the national data is available to the public. It's important to say also that our data is very timely and that we have very strong and primary data as a result of the strong networks that we have with industry, academia so we are able to have focus groups and to have the right surveys and the right information...."
What are the hottest technology topics in ICT for this year and into the future?
"....The mobility, the apps and services, cloud computing, and cyber-security are among the four that we believe will be expanding as the hot sectors...."
What are the most controversial ICT topics?
"....Competition on a global level for talent in a tight labour market....Many countries (as well as Canada) are looking at immigration policies....at some point we will also have to look at immigration to provide that....What are the right approaches?...."
Can you discuss your major past roles and some good lessons from each role that will provide value to our audience?
"....Good forecasts and having a better understanding on how the environment is shaping is vital for having the right approaches going forward....Having the right talent within your organization is important and is a key enabler....Networks, not only from the international point of view, but having good industry collaboration and with government policy makers are the catalysts for making things move...."
What are some of the top resources that you use?
"....We use a multitude of organizations and focus groups and public opinion research, surveys and our own research to gather all of that information and put the right analytics behind it with the aim of providing the right forecasts of where things are happening...."
What are your thoughts on computing as a recognized profession with demonstrated professional development, adherence to a code of ethics, and recognized non-licensing based credentials?
[See www.ipthree.org and the Global Industry Council, http://www.ipthree.org/about-ip3/global-advisory-council]
"....In general, ICT is very ubiquitous and the industry cuts across all functions of industry....I think the question of whether it's certified or not, that depends on the industry....We have to recognize that there is a mix of licensed and non-licensed approaches going forward...."
Namir shares some stories from his extensive speaking, travels, and work (amusing, surprising, unexpected, amazing).
"....Some countries have leapfrogged us in the adoption of mobiles by the fact that they don't have landlines....It's really fascinating to see what's happening in other countries...."
If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask and then what would be your answer?
"....What would be the catalysts for success in Canada in the next number of years?...."
Music by Sunny Smith Productions and Shaun O'Leary