10/18/2012 03:11 EDT | Updated 12/18/2012 05:12 EST

Canada welcomes the IT world

female hand holding computer...

Next week, the who's who of the information and communications technology (ICT) industry around the world will arrive in Montreal, Canada, for the biannual World Congress of Information Technology (WCIT). With all the economic upheaval making business headlines, why does this specialized gathering matter?

The IT industry is in the midst of great change -- witness shifts such as cloud, IT consumerization, big data, and social computing. Without question, the rapid evolution of technology is providing all of us with unprecedented opportunities. WCIT is a forum for discussing how we can best leverage these opportunities, and how technology can help to address major global issues and challenges.

But the pace of change is also one of the key challenges the ICT industry is trying to manage. The way people compute and connect is transforming at an incredible rate and in sometimes unexpected fashion. That's why Intel created Intel Labs specifically to explore how people will engage with technology and each other in the future from smart cities, homes, offices and our highways to the way we shop, communicate and drive. Ethnographic field studies, technology research, trend data, and even science fiction to provide Intel with a pragmatic vision of consumers and computing five or even ten years from now.

There's also a significant benefit of hosting WCIT in Canada: it brings focus to the breadth and impact of the ICT industry in this country as we transition from a resource-based to a digital economy. It provides global perspective for the role Canadian solutions and innovation can play. And initiatives like C200 Investment Forum will showcase to the world what amazing ideas are being developed and brought to market right in our own backyard.

The outputs from WCIT are an ideal backdrop against which to position Canada's digital economy strategy. It will make us more aware of the challenges and opportunities being faced at the global level, and will identify ways for Canada to demonstrate leadership in what it means to be a truly digital nation.