Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS)



William Hutchison Founding Chair i-CANADA, Executive Director Center for Smart City Innovation Ernst & Young, Legendary Global ICT Pioneer

This week, Stephen Ibaraki has an exclusive interview with William Hutchison.

Bill HutchisonBill Hutchison is an international business and social entrepreneur and strategic advisor to public and private sector organizations. He is Co-Founder and Chair of the i-CANADA Alliance supporting Smart City strategies for fifty cities and towns in Canada; Board Chair of SAVI, a five year Internet and cloud computing research program involving ten universities across Canada, directed by the University of Toronto and a member of the Technopolis Moscow International Working Group. He was the Founding Vice-Chair of the National Advisory Board for Science and Technology, chaired by the Prime Minister of Canada.

From 2006-2011 Bill was Executive Director, Intelligent Communities for Waterfront Toronto and Chairman of the i-Waterfront Advisory Council. Mr. Hutchison participated in Singapore's Intelligent Island initiative; he advised the Hong Kong government on their creation of the Hong Kong Cyberport Innovation Centre and he led the creation of the first American owned technology center as part of the early development of Malaysia's Multi Media Super Corridor. He was Co-Founder and Vice Chair of Smart Toronto in 1994-1996.

Bill has been honored as one of the world's leaders in the application of computer, telecommunications and media technology in urban transformation through receipt the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Intelligent Community Forum of New York; recognition as "One of the World's Top 35 People to Watch" in 2009 and 2010; recognition as one of the Top 30 Canadian Movers and Shakers over 30 Years. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Information Processing Society and in 2012 he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.


Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:19: Bill, thank you for sharing your deep experiences with our audience.

:00:49: In your prior roles, describe some major challenges you have faced and your solutions to the challenges that would be of value to businesses today?
"....When you've been around as long as I have, I've had a lot of previous roles....There are critical moments where you may have to make a decision that may be a bit innovative and out of the ordinary and sometimes we have to grab the ring and go for it....Relationships are very important and throughout your career your personal network is one of your main assets. You may change jobs, but generally your business and personal relationships are extremely important...."

:10:32: With your deep insight as an ICT pioneer and executive, what do you see as the top future challenges for business executives? What are the solutions?
"....Disruptive innovation issues.....Thinking globally....Recognizing that we are just on the knee of a curve is important because changes are going to be coming faster all the time...."

:15:20: What future disruptive innovations should business executives be watching?
"....Things (hardware generally but perhaps software as well), are going to be smaller, cheaper, faster all the time and that will keep happening....In addition to changes in technology, new regulatory rules will start to come into play. They've been slow in some cases like healthcare and construction, but these will move forward as well...."

:19:31: From your history as founding Vice-Chair of the National Advisory Board for Science and Technology, chaired by the Prime Minister of Canada — what insights can you share about the future of Science and Technology? What policies are required?
"....The first insight is that you need consistency; these are long term investments and they are just part of the new world. That's probably the main thing we have to get across and get accepted...."

:27:56: One of your roles now is Co-founder and Chairman of iCANADA. What is the value behind iCANADA and what do you hope to accomplish?
"....The terms Smart City and Intelligent Community first started to appear on the landscape in the early 90s. Singapore had Intelligence Island, Silicon Valley created Smart Valley. I was a co-founder of Smart Toronto in 1994 and those were the early days of starting to significantly apply all of our new technologies, first to the management of our cities but then to all of society....There is a think tank in New York called the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) and for the last 14 years it has been running an annual competition to select the Intelligent Community of the Year....Over the last 14 years all these winners have inevitably had higher rates of innovation, economic growth, more employment growth, more incoming investment and more social innovation than their neighbours....If you created one of the world's Intelligent Communities (Smart Cities), the fact is that by winning the awards and doing the necessary things for it, you attract companies to come and work there and they grow....That's the reason for creating iCANADA and there are now over 70 cities and towns working with iCANADA and working to try to become it...."

:34:27: There are members in the audience who are senior executives or very senior in the different domains that they’re in or come from. How do they get involved with iCANADA?
"....Email is a national movement and it is in everybody's interest to make it happen....I've created 14 consortia in my life (I never intended to do that and they are all voluntary), but I've always believed that if you think that something's important don't ask the government to do it, just go and do it. It's much better to start it and get a great parade going and every government in the world and every politician wants to be part of great parade. So iCANADA now is attracting a lot of attention...."

:38:12: Can you talk more about SAVI and describe its outcomes and how it will provide benefits?
"....SAVI is a research project, led by the University of Toronto, but there are 10 universities in total and they are all partnering on this. It's a great collaboration across Canada. The focus is the future of Cloud computing and the future of communications at the edge of these big networks....What SAVI's looking at is how are we going to handle the issues of Cloud computing and communications at the edge of the networks in the future and it's a big issue. A lot of that research now is suggesting that in fact there may be a dual cloud, a two-layer cloud...."

:41:52: Earlier you talked about this Intelligent Community Forum out of New York. Can you tell us more about the goals of this Intelligent Community Forum and some of the major participants?
"....It is really 3 people, 3 guys as it turns out, that created it back in the 90s and with a combination of Urban Planning backgrounds....The three of them saw the future and said this will start to move out into this whole application across cities, communities and towns, so let's create a think-tank to study it and that is how the Intelligent Community Forum was created in New York. Then they started to run this annual competition which has been a real service because the history of the top 7 and the top 21 over 14 years has been stored, so you can go and look to see what they’ve been doing...."

:50:29: Describe your work as a member of the Russian Advisory Board for the implementation of the Smart City program? Has this evolved and what has happened in that sphere?
"....I have been working with Ernst & Young (not as a partner, but as an advisor), helping them to expand in this whole area of Smart Cities and Intelligent Communities....It's unbelievable how many conferences on Innovation, Smart Cities, Urban Transformation, Regional Diversification that are occurring in Russia and Kazakhstan and these are world ranked conferences....We don't do a lot in Russia as a trader, mostly it's in the natural resources industry because they are a big oil and gas country as are we, but there are tremendous opportunities for our technology companies and not as much competition as in some countries....It's a very vibrant area, quite determined to build IT industries. They love partnerships and they are looking for them...."

:57:54: You were an invited speaker at the 2013 ASTANA Economic Forum, the largest in Eurasia. What things did you learn from speaking there and what goals do you wish to accomplish in your continued work in Kazakhstan itself and ASTANA?
"....The first thing I learned was just how innovative they are, how collaborative they are and how aggressive in how they are doing. They are doing some great things....Another thing I learned was there's a little difference in the Kazakh people, they are more collaborative than the Russians...."

:01:05:16: What do you wish to accomplish as Executive Director, Center for Smart City Innovation Ernst & Young?
"....The Center for Smart City Innovation is a thinktank based in Moscow focused more particularly on Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, but it's a focal point from which we will bring in people and sponsor speeches and other kinds of White Papers and thought leadership from other thought leaders around the world....It will be a focal point for Ernst & Young's relationships in the Smart City field worldwide...."

:01:07:50: Earlier you talked about the nuances in terms of Smart Cities and Intelligent Communities and other terms that are used. From all of these experiences with the Smart Cities roles, your past history, your advisory consulting businesses, what are some of the best practices that you are sharing with your clients?
"....The importance of your relationships, internally and externally, your ability to collaborate and your ability to communicate....Listening....Understand what else is going on in the market because you need to develop a point of view of their industry and what they should perhaps be doing - so the idea of creating strategic relationships....Seizing the moment...."

:01:14:10: Describe some areas of controversy in the areas that you work.
"....The idea of creating a Smart City, a lot of people just think about technology so they're not interested - that becomes kind of a controversial area and discussion point....You have to have the technology, but if you want to design the Smart City of the future, depending on the definition of the CIO, you may fall into what I call the CIO trap - that's a controversial area. Certainly the CIO should be a key part of it but it may well be that somebody else needs to lead it. I always recommend that they create the i-community advisory council....Another one is the social community often doesn't see why they should be involved or they think the technology folk are going to run away with it and they won't get involved and this becomes an issue. We don't want to create a digital divide, in fact we want to close one that's usually there and so the issue of getting everyone involved, but having strong enough leadership to make sure that you will continually move forward is a very key area..."

:01:23:56: Do you feel computing should be a recognized profession on par with accounting, medicine and law with demonstrated professional development, adherence to a code of ethics, personal responsibility, public accountability, quality assurance and recognized credentials? [See and the Global Industry Council,]
"..... I've been a part of the profession and a member of Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) since the early 60s and am very fortunate and pleased to have been a part of CIPS. When you think of the impact of computing over the years now it's at the heart of everything and it really is a profession and requires professional standards, testing and accountability. I'm 100 percent behind that idea...."

:01:27:01: Bill shares some interesting stories from his extensive speaking, travels and work (something amusing, surprising, unexpected or amazing).
"....There's a lot of funny ones and a lot of interesting ones too...."

:01:36:13: If you were conducting this interview, what question should I have asked and then what would be your answer?
"....You might have asked, so what were the failures? What happened to Consolidated Computer, why is it not there today?...."

:01:38:59: Bill, with your demanding schedule, we are indeed fortunate to have you come in to do this interview. Thank you for sharing your deep experiences with our audience.