by Briony Smith
IT business.ca Canadian Technology News
The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) recently announced a partnership with the Canadian Red Cross (CRC) that isn't just about CATA getting a karmic boost-the Alliance stands to benefit from the CRC's considerable brand power, while the CRC gains access to the cutting-edge technology offered by CATA's members.
The first initiative the two organizations teamed up on was the Advantage Canada Summit in Halifax, held in early November. CATA members gathered to discuss issues surrounding Canada's “brand” and ways to build that brand so as to snag outsourcing business, according to Kevin Wennekes, vice-president of research at CATA.
“Canada has a lot of natural advantages, but they don't know how to go about disseminating this knowledge-there's no focused effort to show our partners we're here to match their needs with our services,” Wennekes said.
“Outsourcing isn't contained to manufacturing or commerce alone-Canada has world-class providers, ITC-wise,” he said. “But the Red Cross is a globally recognized symbol; they have lessons-learned best practices that will give us invaluable input, and having them visible demonstrates the validity of Canada's ability and shows what can be achieved.”
As John Mulvihill, deputy secretary general of development at the Canadian Red Cross, said, “It's not like we're a fish out of water among the technological community.”
The partners also recently worked together with the Canadian Police Research Centre to develop a “first responders” study that will research the needs of Canada's police, firefighters, and paramedics. CATA sought the CRC's opinions about the challenges faced by the “cadre of non-profit organizations that support behind-the-yellow-line work,” said Mulvihill.
“We helped with the types of questions that could aid in product design, and if there's specific types of software, then there are opportunities (for CATA) there.” He said that, once the study is finished, it could start an avalanche of similar studies: “You'll see a tremendous amount of money being spent by people on initiatives that will get them more bang for their buck.”
Finally, CATA and the CRC will be holding an ICT vendor briefing session come January that will see both parties benefit from the other's expertise. “Having this retreat will help with any IT challenges faced by the Canadian Red Cross. And it benefits CATA, as we can deliver services that will give them better efficiency and opportunities-but it's not like it's about how to fix the Canadian operation. It's how can Canadian technology as a whole help deliver the Red Cross' mandate as a multinational,” said Wennekes.
He said that the fact that the Red Cross is globally recognized will help CATA spread their own global footprint and give its members who work with the Red Cross brand the opportunity to have a global impact. But he said that CATA's advancement is a “soft sell” next to the fact that, by helping the CRC use technology more efficiently, it can help enable a better humanitarian response. “It's not like CATA is splashed everywhere behind this. We just want the industry to be aware of the value of aiding these kinds of organizations,” said Wennekes.
Mulvihill is aware of CATA's situation, which combines kudos for their philanthropy and a direct hookup to an influential client. “I'm not so naïve not to know that this is a very competitive field and companies have certain needs, but it is good to know who the players are and what they're putting out,” said Mulvihill.
“This way, we get a show-and-tell where we can describe who we are and how we do it to multiple parties in the technology community, and receive offers of interest and support.”
Come tender time, he said, this meeting will come in handy when figuring out the right fit for the CRC's IT needs.