CIO Connect – COVID19 Implications


The initial session of CIO Connect was successfully held with 45 CIOCAN members on April 8th. CIO Connect is an informal online forum to enable members to have face-to-face conversations in real time. Of course, this is similar to the ever popular “Beer with Peers” with 3 main differences:

  1. there is no beer, unless you are supplying your own
  2. it is a virtual meeting as opposed to a physical one; and
  3. it is national in scope versus being chapter centric.

We weren’t sure of the interest level in doing an event such as this one and thought that we might only get about 10 to 20 members. However, we were pleasantly surprised when there was high interest from the membership and very pleased to have 45 active participants in the actual session.

We know that various chapters are also successfully doing their own virtual events. In addition, I am sure that your inbox is full of invitations from other organizations and suppliers promoting their own online events and webinars.

The difference with CIO Connect is that it is based on leveraging your trusted network of CIOCAN peers from right across Canada where you can openly and confidently talk about issues that you are facing and also the solutions and innovations that can be shared with all of us. In addition, no one is trying to sell you anything as everyone is focused on creating a valuable experience worth your time investment.

The format of these sessions involves identifying some general discussion themes to focus on. The proposed discussion topics for the April 8th session were centred around the resulting impacts from the COVID-19 crisis and included:

  1. How are members addressing business continuity? What have been your challenges and lessons learned?
  2. With the move to much higher levels of remote working, how are you addressing workforce management and dealing with the evolving cyber-security risks?
  3. In the pre-COVID-19 area, we all had strategic projects to be implemented. What is now happening with these initiatives?
  4. Given the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, are you seeing opportunities to leverage digital technologies to support new business models for both customers and employees?

Based on the number of participants for the April 8th session, the attendees were placed into seven smaller groups for online discussion rooms. Each discussion room had a volunteer Moderator for the session and they did a great job facilitating the individual sessions. The resulting discussions in each room were informal and unstructured, as these sessions are not webinars. Most of the groups focusing on one or two particular aspects of the suggested themes.

The Moderators’ objective was to have active participation from all attendees if possible and to also record some high level notes of the themes discussed, but at all times to protect the privacy of the members by not attributing actual quotes to any of the participants. In addition, these sessions are not being recorded.

At the conclusion of the individual room sessions, which in this case ran for about 30 minutes, we all came back together again to wrap things up and do some polling questions to get everyone’s feedback on the CIO Connect session. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive with more than 90% of the attendees rating the session as well worth their time and recommending the session to their peers. The attendees also strongly recommended that we do these sessions on a regular basis, anywhere from bi-weekly to once a month.

Based on these great results and the very strong interest of our CIOCAN members to have more of these types of virtual sessions, we are pleased to announce the next CIO Connect session has been booked for April 29th at 1:00pm (EST). We hope to see another great turn out for that session with the details to be communicated shortly. In the meantime, if you have any comments on suggestions on CIO Connect, please do not hesitate to reach out to let us know.

Thanks and best regards,

Gary Davenport

Host CIO Connect

Past National President, CIOCAN