Charter Engage: Know IT

What's Up in Calgary

September 14, 2023 Charter Season 1 Episode 6
What's Up in Calgary
Charter Engage: Know IT
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Charter Engage: Know IT
What's Up in Calgary
Sep 14, 2023 Season 1 Episode 6

💭Charter Engage: Know IT Podcast Series – What’s Up in Calgary.
 This podcast explores the market in Calgary, Alberta from a business and technical perspective. The program covers theoretical and practical business problems happening in the area with real-life customer scenarios, and advice on getting started and partnering with us. 
 Get to know our Calgary team as they discuss how things are progressing in the market; ways that companies are embracing technological change towards future growth, and how Charter is helping companies achieve positive business outcomes. 

💙Leave a Rating and Review on Apple Podcasts

Let Charter help drive your business outcomes Forward, Together.

Show Notes Transcript

💭Charter Engage: Know IT Podcast Series – What’s Up in Calgary.
 This podcast explores the market in Calgary, Alberta from a business and technical perspective. The program covers theoretical and practical business problems happening in the area with real-life customer scenarios, and advice on getting started and partnering with us. 
 Get to know our Calgary team as they discuss how things are progressing in the market; ways that companies are embracing technological change towards future growth, and how Charter is helping companies achieve positive business outcomes. 

💙Leave a Rating and Review on Apple Podcasts

Let Charter help drive your business outcomes Forward, Together.

Charter Engage: Know IT – Podcast – What’s Up in Calgary?

[Recorded in Calgary, AB at The Petroleum Club]

August 11th, 2023


Presenters: (Listed in speaking order.)

Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

Robyn Foret, Charter, General Manager, AB, East

Alnoor Karim, Charter, Solution Expert

Luke Scrymgeour, Charter, Account Manager



[0:04] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

Good morning, and welcome to the latest podcast episode of Charter’s ongoing series called “Charter Engage - Know IT.” Today's topic is called “What's up in Calgary?” and I'm your Host, Mark George, the Director of Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets. 

For over 25 years, Charter has built a very successful business as a reseller of networking, IT, security, and collaboration products and services. Last year, we made the strategic decision to invest and build a much broader systems-integration business focused initially on companies in the energy, resources, and industrial, or ER&I markets. To do this, Charter will take responsibility for customers achieving business outcomes - leveraging best-in-class technology and a comprehensive portfolio of professional services to integrate and optimize across the traditional IT and OT infrastructures. To put these comprehensive solutions together, Charter will partner with third parties to help our clients achieve their digital transformation and business objectives. 

Now, for those of you who tune in regularly, we're taking a slightly different approach to our podcast today. Recently, we focused on topics such as how we work with industry partners to secure connected workers through finding new ways to analyze data, to make more informed decisions by “Moving Beyond Spreadsheets.” [1] 

Today, we've invited three senior members of the Charter team, in Calgary, to share their views on what's up in their market from a multi-industry perspective. They each have decades of experience, so I'm sure we'll have a broad range of discussions, including touching on some of the current business issues, as well as the hot-technology topics in the private sector, the public sector, and the service-provider market. 

I'm pleased to welcome three industry executives to our podcast discussion. First of all, to my right, Robyn Foret. Robyn is the Prairie Region General Manager. Welcome, Robyn! 


[2:09] Robyn Foret, Charter, General Manager, AB, East

Thank you, Mark. [It’s] nice to be here.


[2:11] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

On my left, Alnoor Kareem. He's the sales Solutions Expert. Good morning, Alnoor. 


[2:16] Alnoor Karim, Charter, Solution Expert

Good morning.


[2:17] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

And last, but not least, Luke Scrymgeour. Luke is the Account Manager for the commercial sector, based in Calgary. Good morning, Luke!


[2:24] Luke Scrymgeour, Charter, Account Manager

Good morning. Thank you for having me, Mark.


[2:26] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

All three of my guests, today, have worked in the Calgary market for the majority of their careers, and are active and vibrant members of the community. So, let's get started.

First of all, I'd like each of you to tell us more about yourselves and share some insights on the types of customers you collaborate within the market. Luke, we’ll start with you. 


[2:46] Luke Scrymgeour, Charter, Account Manager

A little bit about myself. Personally, I play a lot of golf as a hobby - in between working really hard. The main markets that I cover, in Calgary, are the oil and gas market and a little bit of K to 12 and higher education, as well as some of the commercial accounts, as well.


[3:02] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

And outside of work, what kinds of things are you involved in? 


[3:06] Luke Scrymgeour, Charter, Account Manager

I'm actually a big part of the Tri-West Soccer Association. I’m the treasurer for that and I also coach my kids’ soccer teams. I play competitive golf once in a while, in the summer, in between all of my family events. And that generally keeps me busy. And we also ski a lot, as a family, in the winter, as well.


[3:23] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

Well, we look forward to your contribution to this morning's podcast. Alnoor, over to you.


[3:27] Alnoor Karim, Charter, Solution Expert

I've been with Charter for nine years, this year. And in IT, in general, I’ve been around the industry for about 20 years. So, I've seen, from a market perspective, everything that Charter has been involved with, from a client-based perspective. 

So, I've worked with non-profits and First Nations in helping them get connected in the more rural areas of Alberta. In fact, that's probably the areas of IT that I'm probably most passionate about, right? Because those are the types of organizations and clients that have not only historic debt that they're recovering from, in terms of social investment, but also from the challenges that they face as non-profits and as organizations that do not have the commercial markets that are generally available to fund their community initiatives. From an IT perspective, those are the types of challenges I like working with because you have to find creative and innovative solutions to bring them up to the level of technological and organizational competence from an IT perspective (with very, very, very limited resources.) So, from a community perspective, not only do I facilitate that in my own personal time, but also, I've been really, really afforded a great opportunity, within Charter, to help with that.


[4:43] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

We really appreciate your joining us this morning for the podcast because, I'm sure, we’ll have the opportunity to develop some more of the experiences that you've seen, and share more of the insights that you gained - not only in those markets, but in others for Charter. So, thank you, Alnoor. Robyn, over to you.


[4:59] Robyn Foret, Charter, General Manager, AB, East

Yes, Sir. So, I've been in this industry for 47 years, and 43 of that has been in Calgary. So, I've seen a lot of change. It's a changing and dynamic marketplace. It's an evolving marketplace. I come from a service-provider heritage. I was part of the service-provider community - and I've been serving that community since about 1996, from the organizations that serve that community, like Charter, today. 

Outside of work, I'm very involved with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and the Calgary Stampede. Those are two big charitable organizations that I am passionate about. And, of course, my family. They're all young adults now, but family’s always an important part of what we do. 

One of the nice things with Charter is we are a family-built organization, and the Charter community is really an extended family. We all have similar objectives and desires to make sure we're taking care of our customers and we go to extraordinary means to do that. Regardless of where the market is taking us, we kind of lead that effort and make sure that we're in front of our customers, in front of the market, and doing the right thing.


[6:01] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

Robyn, what a great summary. And it, kind of, moves us into the next section. So, let's get started. 

Now that you've got, kind of, a better understanding of our panelists today, I'd like to focus first on what's going on in the Calgary market and more importantly, or maybe as importantly, the interconnectedness with the rest of the province of Alberta, Canada, and the U.S. Because we can't ignore the fact that we’re a major trading partner, whether it's in the oil and gas industry, or the manufacturing industry, even from a service-provider perspective, there's competition - because technology continues to evolve. So, let's look at the markets and that interconnectedness. 

Against the backdrop, I think, of almost a record Calgary Stampede attendance, the wildfires that are still going on around us, the port workers strike that was just settled (but went on for much longer than anybody wanted,) and, I just saw a headline, the other day, that one of the major Canadian telecom companies is doing a significant layoff. [2] I saw some information, recently, from Tech Canada, because they just released their CEO confidence index, [3] and here are some of the highlights to get this discussion going: i) Business conditions remain a serious challenge. ii) Secondly, not much hope for a recovery. The CEOs remained very cautious on the 12-month outlook for Canada's economy. iii) And almost half of the tech CEOs believe that a recession is now either a certainty or highly likely. And even Jim Cramer was talking about that, in one of his recent podcasts in the U.S., that U.S. CEOs are as cautiously concerned as their Canadian counterparts are. 

So why don't we have a bit of discussion about what you're hearing from your customers; what you're seeing in the marketplace; and, if you can, give us some examples of some of the things that you'd like to develop as we talk, in the podcast, this morning? Robyn, why don’t I ask you to start? 


[8:03] Robyn Foret, Charter, General Manager, AB, East

[I’m] happy to. It's interesting hearing the doom and gloom in the marketplace. The interesting thing with Calgary is, having such a heavy focus on the oil and gas sector, we're a sine wave industry. [5] There's highs and there are lows, and it keeps happening. And despite that, Calgary, Alberta (and Calgary in particular) is very entrepreneurial in spirit. I mean, we see companies, I'm going to name a couple, like Shaw and Telus that have driven their organizations from here. They may not be headquartered here any longer, with changes in acquisitions, but they started here - in this province, in this city. 

We're seeing connectivity demands across the country, and the federal government stepping up to that. We're seeing entrepreneurial companies in Calgary, in the service provider sector, that are new companies that are building fibre to the home in small communities that, it's an economic challenge, but the entrepreneurial spirit pushes us through that doom and gloom message. And, this province, and this city, have continued to push their way through those economic indicators to the benefit of the people driving them, and the people serving them. It's a really interesting market. 

Some people see these negative messages as real opportunities, and I think the Calgary entrepreneurial community sees it that way. A negative can be a positive because, with a longer-term view, when the market is down, that's when we buy. 


[9:17] Luke Scrymgeour, Charter, Account Manager

Well, it's been like that, over time a lot, right? I remember, starting in 2005 and oil was at $140.00, and gas was at $12.50. Since then, we've had a couple of cycles and it just shows you the entrepreneurial spirit that Calgary has. Everyone just picks themselves right back up again and keeps going.


[9:32] Robyn Foret, Charter, General Manager, AB, East

And it's not building for tomorrow, it's building for 2026/2028. And with that long-term view, you know that cycle is going to come back up. 


[9:41] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

Well, then, you mentioned the entrepreneurial spirit. I think all four of us see that every day in the marketplace. That, yeah, you may not get the cap ex you need but you'll find some creative way to use OpEx. You may not get the opportunity to hire five new people but, if you can find the one person that can help innovate in your organization or help lead that digital transformation exercise, you can be successful.


[10:06] Luke Scrymgeour, Charter, Account Manager

An example too, is one of my customers. He's constantly (he’s in the service industry, in the oil and gas business,) and they’re constantly innovating, constantly thinking about new solutions that he could bring to the market to help his customers.


[10:18] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

Ultimately, Alnoor, I think, from a technology perspective, as you look at the market, I'd be interested in your thoughts about what you're seeing, in the market. Clearly, you're seeing lots of headlines about new companies being recruited to headquarter in Calgary; [and] new companies starting up. [4] What's your sense of that technology marketplace today? 


[10:38] Alnoor Karim, Charter, Solution Expert

Calgary's been surprisingly interesting from a tech-sector-hub perspective. We've had a lot of innovative companies, like Benevity [6] that operate out of Calgary. Cisco [7] has made some interesting investments in their security practice and building it out. I mean, I was just driving through Cochrane, and I remember talking to my wife last week, in fact, about how Cochrane’s developed so much. And there’s a couple of tech companies that operate out of Cochrane, [8] as well, which was a bit of a surprise when I heard about that. And that’s not new. They've been around for a couple / three years. But, in technology, that's a long time. 


[11:10] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

That’s already a lifetime. 


[11:12] Luke Scrymgeour, Charter, Account Manager

Those are significant companies, too, in Cochrane. 


[11:14] Alnoor Karim, Charter, Solution Expert

You know, talking in the context of what you see in the people-technology market. I think everyone’s recognized that we have a technology and a people debt that has been growing for a number of years. Our previous CTO always used to talk about this cliff that we've seen, in terms of the number of people that are not just available to do the work, but actually have the business acumen, as well as the technology foundation - to be able to allow organizations to innovate. 

Technology is now integrated into every part of your organizational business. It's part of your Cybersecurity strategy, it’s part of your remote workers that have now become a reality. Coming into downtown today, I was surprised at how busy it was, actually, driving into the downtown core this morning (at eight o’clock, as I was trying to get to a meeting.) 

So, I think there may be some quote, unquote “doom and gloom” in the market, with what we're doing and what we're seeing, in terms of the right size. I think as a sector, as a province, we've already right sized. We've been right sizing for, what I would estimate, in the last 15 years. What we're seeing is you may have attrition in various areas of the organization, but that is very targeted to a longer-term outlook because, even in that report that you're referencing, I was looking at seeing that 40% of all of these CEOs are not pulling back on recruitment. [9] So you may lose 6,000 people at Telus; you may have lost eight or nine different people there, but those people are in, still, high demand in other verticals. 


[12:49] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

I saw an article or a headline, the other day saying that Zoom is telling its employees that they need to come back to the office. [10] They’re now enforcing a structured-hybrid approach and, including the employees that live near the office, they need to be on-site two days a week [or] three days a week now. So, when you look at the traffic in Calgary, Luke, coming in and the parking that's not available downtown, ultimately, I think all of the companies that you must work with and talk to every day in the market are trying to figure out what is their definition of the hybrid workplace today.


[13:23] Luke Scrymgeour, Charter, Account Manager

They really are. I think that we've gone three years with a lot of working from home and a lot of making your own schedule - and it's been pretty productive that way. But talking to my customers, and specifically in the ER& I space, they either had their employees coming back to the office a while ago or had a more of a hybrid approach, a little while ago. And the ones that aren't are putting it in place now. 

Because one of my customers I was talking to, (it was more last summer,) but he noticed a productivity downfall. It was the CEO of one of my customers and through Covid[-19], through 2021, he noticed a little bit of a downfall. He identified those areas, and took care of them, but there are some of our customers, and some of the guys in Calgary, who feel that people are more productive in the office space.


[14:05] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

Now, Robyn, I think from a service-provider perspective, to be able to implement a hybrid-workplace environment probably put out an extraordinary amount of pressure, in a very short period of time, on some of the telcos. Maybe share your thoughts on what you've seen, but more importantly, where you think that's going?


[14:22] Robyn Foret, Charter, General Manager, AB, East

I have to say that the irony is not lost on Zoom forcing people back to the office, considering that their reason for being is allowing people to work away from the office. But with that said, Covid[-19] put tremendous pressure on the service-provider sector, which equates to tremendous opportunity on the service-provider sector. Everyone working from home put high demands on networks around the world, really. 

What we've seen, in this beautiful, entrepreneurial City of Calgary, is startups taking advantage of that, tapping into federal funding for rural broadband initiatives. We have Calgary-headquartered companies building fibre and fibre-to-the-home so that remote workers can have very good access to the services they need, wherever they may be. And, in the province of Alberta, the provincial government is also stepping up with huge contributions to these companies to help them build higher speed to the home sooner than later. 

I remember in the 1980s we had an initiative to bring telephone service, private telephone service, to all of the farmland in Alberta. And it was a big initiative by, at the time, Alberta Government Telephones. [11] It went from a commercial service to a utility service - that everyone needed. And that's what Internet access is today. It's the utility that everyone needs - and it's not a “nice to have,” it's a “need to have.” 

And, even in the hybrid marketplace, if you have to be in the office for three days of the week, so be it. But those two days of the week that you need to be at home, you need to be well connected. Interestingly enough, a lot of people will comment that they are better connected at home than they are in the office. And that's a reflection of what a great job the service-provider community has done, in bringing these services outside of the commercial workplace.

And, for another topic, that I'm sure we will get to sometime today, that introduces some interesting security challenges too - for those users; for those enterprise customers; and for those service providers that are bringing the connectivity to them.


[16:14] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

Well, I think all of us would agree that one of the advantages of having the opportunity to come back more often into the office is, clearly, the water cooler discussions that take place. For all of us that work in downtown Calgary, what you see in the people, you get to see, in the “plus-fifteens: every day; the opportunities just to reconnect are huge. And I think that from a social perspective, as much as we're talking about some of the economic and financial things we're seeing in the marketplace, I think the opportunity to come back to the office really adds another social benefit that we had lost during Covid[-19.] [Do] you guys agree? 


[16:48] Luke Scrymgeour, Charter, Account Manager

Absolutely. I think a perfect example of that is just Alnoor and I work very close together. And, us being in the same office, at the same time, really helps with some of the stuff we're working on. Same with you and I, Mark. It's nice, like, you mentioned the water cooler. You can get a lot of things done that you wouldn’t over a phone call, or planning a phone call, when you’re working from different locations, like that.


[17:08] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

So, let's segue to the next part of the podcast, this morning, and talk a little bit more about the amazing things that Charter is seeing in the marketplace. That we get the opportunity every day to try and help our clients become more efficient, [and] to become more innovative. And the enabler, one part of it, tends to be the different technologies that all of us get to play with in our sandbox every day. And, ultimately, the objective is to help the organizations transform - help them reinvent themselves, to be more competitive in the marketplace. 

So, from a technology perspective, all four of us are seeing a lot about topics around (Robyn you mentioned it earlier,) Cybersecurity. Alnoor, you and I were in a meeting yesterday talking about Generative AI and Digital Twins. Private Cellular Networks, you're seeing a lot more communication and thought put into where that's going. The project that T-Mobile is running in the U.S. right now and when is it going to come to Canada. [12] And then, ultimately, this whole challenge of data analytics – “Where is the data, where is it residing, how do I get access to it?” 70% of operations data is not being used today in the marketplace. [13] You see it from all of the major consultants. 

So, let's have a bit of a discussion around what technologies are your clients planning to help them deal with some of the labour challenges; the increase in business productivity; what are they doing; what's their go-forward strategy on AI (or just automation in general?) And so, let's start there and see where that takes us. Who would like to start?


[18:48] Robyn Foret, Charter, General Manager, AB, East

I'll start with the service provider, if I may, just because that's the backbone that everyone builds their enterprise networks upon. And one of the things that we do with service providers [is] two pieces: I'll talk about security and AI, starting with security. There's a lot of security solutions in the marketplace and there's a Cybersecurity event that happens annually. [14] I think it still goes on after Covid[-19,] but it attracts about 900 of the top vendors in the world. And those 900 vendors show up at this wonderful trade show and there's not one of them that encompasses all aspects of security. So, to say that security is complex is an understatement. 

Now, from a service provider perspective, we treat security differently - because everyone knows about the firewalls; everybody knows about appliances; everyone knows about different things that address different parts of security. But the interesting thing that a lot of our, I’ll say, enterprise customers, [and] mid-market customers don't realize is that the network should be the first step in your Cybersecurity posture. The network sees all of your traffic. “How do you capitalize on that?” And what we see today, in advanced routing technology, for example, we're seeing those core routers, those provider-edge routers, playing a role in analyzing that traffic on behalf of those Cybersecurity appliances. So, the network becomes the very first line of defence. 

Cybersecurity is not something that sits on the side of your network and then responds five minutes later because attacks are probably volumetric attacks [and] short duration attacks and you have to be real-time analyzing your traffic to do that. We do that in the service provider network. It’s par for the course.

The other thing that's big in that sector is Artificial Intelligence (AI.) One of the trends, that we see, is a lot of companies moving away from the traditional IT infrastructure, where they have a team of people behind a wall that are taking care of everything, and they're moving towards a managed service. Where they have SLAs with some kind of a service provider - something that we do, as an example. But, where a Managed Service Provider, like Charter, will take care of the things behind that wall, that that IT company may have done, or that IT group may have done in the past. Artificial Intelligence gives us the ability to do that more efficiently, with less resources, for a more positive outcome for everyone involved - for the end user [and] for the service provider. 

And [here are] some examples. We're seeing 90% of the operations costs associated with providing a service inside an enterprise organization disappearing with the use of AI - just because of the visibility it gives us and the extent of that visibility within the network, and outside of the network, and troubleshooting, and understanding root cause whenever there's an issue. 


[21:18] Alnoor Karim, Charter, Solution Expert

So, I think, from an AI in ML perspective, it's become a necessity. And, specifically, because we have a people debt. That there are no longer enough people in the marketplace to, actually, operationalize the complexity of the environments that we implement today. I don't see AI and ML as something that would sit there and necessarily take away a job of a person, but I think it's become the necessity of a tool that is required (because there aren't people available anymore.) 

And when Robyn talks about a targeted attack that is short in duration, that is, sort of, a blip inside your environment, that's exactly what's happening, right? It’s a blip in the environment that needs correlative analytics. It has to have a level of sophistication that is not available to a single person monitoring your screen anymore because what happens is that the attack happens and then there's a dwell time. And when we talk about a dwell time, we're talking about months, if not years, before that vector is activated. 

So, an organization is compromised, but they're compromised into their backups; they’re compromised into their business continuity strategies; they’re compromised in such a way that the attack will have devastating outcomes to the day-to-day operations. 

And (because we've, sp.) let's take a look at some of the downsizing that's happening. You're already a lean organization today. I think CFOs and CTOs have already sat there and said, “You know what we will run our organizations as lean as possible to ensure productivity and profitability.” And, for the most part, for for-profit companies, this is an outcome of the nature of the business that we operate in - and they already were lean. So, when you have attrition and then you have a vector that affects your organization, it's disproportionately going to affect you, especially when you're looking in the narrow-term outlook. 

So, having organizations that you can leverage, that have the expertise; the point-in-time, that have the capacity to take you on, is increasingly part of your operational business-continuity strategy. Because it's not “if,” it's “when.” And when that happens you need a strategic relationship with an organization that understands, not only, your technology footprint, but also your operational footprint. This is where Managed Service starts to become even more of a requirement - more than a “nice to have,” more than just somebody that you outsource your stuff to.


[23:36] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

So, Luke, to lots of companies they either have a very limited IT staff or nonexistent. And they hear things about “I need to have a Cybersecurity strategy; I need to understand how Artificial Intelligence can apply to my business.” One of the themes we talk about in every Charter podcast is “Start Small.” So maybe, in those two areas, do you have some ideas about how a company, or a client, could “Start Small” in looking at Cybersecurity, or AI, or any other [initiative]?


[24:11] Luke Scrymgeour, Charter, Account Manager

Knowing what you have, I think, is probably the most efficient way to be able to get some output about what you need. 


[24:17] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

And does Charter help in that space? Can Charter provide assistance?


[24:22] Luke Scrymgeour, Charter, Account Manager

Absolutely. That's where I was going there. We provide, as part of our CMS service (Charter Managed Services,) to start working clients, we provide infrastructure assessments; security assessments on the networks; on firewalls; on the ISPs - to be able to efficiently implement our service and help our customers out. 

Because these customers, (it goes back to what Robyn and Alnoor were talking about, a little bit on the employee side,) there's not a lot of talent out there for them to hire. And the SLAs are important, and the outsourcing of their IT is important, now, because they weren't getting that internally. 

I've brought on about two or three new Managed Service customers by doing assessments like that; giving them 3-, 6-, 9-, [and] 12-month roadmaps to get to where they want to be - from a digitization strategy. And these customers, when Alnoor, and myself, and you, Mark walked into to chat with them, they were lost. They had no reporting; they had no traffic analysis; no cybersecurity roadmaps or strategies. And that's where our CMS comes in. We can accurately assess the environment, put a plan together, and come in, and deliver on that.


[25:29] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

And Alnoor, I think the advantage that Charter brings to the table, in this space, is that our company looks at it from an IT perspective and an operations perspective. Because those two worlds seem to be blending in lots of different customer environments today. Do you agree?


[25:46] Alnoor Karim, Charter, Solution Expert

OT in the context of the “OT in the SCADA networks,” those types of [environments?]


[25:51] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

Correct. Yes, because you need to have a Cyber strategy that goes over the whole enterprise, not just individual [enterprises.] And, maybe, one’s more sophisticated than the other. That's not acceptable anymore.


[26:01] Alnoor Karim, Charter, Solution Expert



[25:32] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

I think our vulnerability to attacks, like you said earlier, especially when they hide in your network for some time before they pop up their nasty head, at the end of the day, you need to have a very overarching view of your network environment. 


[26:18] Alnoor Karim, Charter, Solution Expert

Yeah, we do not have the luxury in organizations anymore to have castles and silos. All organizations need to be strategically invested in the operational success. Because what we, as organizations from a business perspective, need to do is to be able to adapt to the emerging market conditions. So, whether that's a financial market condition (we’re feeling a contraction,) or a sentiment of contraction, right now. I certainly, from my perspective, I’m sure we're talking about a recession, but I think that's more sentiment than reality, from what I'm actually seeing. I think we're seeing strategic investment in areas that, for organizations to set themselves up for growth, rather than actual contraction. 

But, when we talk about your asset, it's no longer a hardware asset. A lot of the assets that you, as an organization, have are digital. A lot of the assets that you have, as an organization, is the intellectual property you have in the context of data - not necessarily patents, or this, or that, it's actually the data associated to the services that you're providing to your customers. And that's what you really need to analyze. You need to analyze the data in the context of what your current client base is consuming so that you can identify gaps in the market that you want to go and address. 


[27:29] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

So, different ways you could grow revenue, or “How do you contain costs better; increase profitability; maybe enhance the customer experience?” Those are the things I think all four of us are hearing every day. And the underpinning, or the underlying factor, of like you raised earlier Robyn, is the infrastructure that's in place and the services that a company, like Charter, can provide. 


[27:53] Robyn Foret, Charter, General Manager, AB, East

There's another aspect to that, that is somewhat unique to Charter, because we encompass, or embrace, such different sectors in the market - including the service provider sector. There's a real B-to-B opportunity between service provider and end customer because we're helping service providers build these very resilient, reliable networks that are highly secure. And not every service provider does that. Not everyone takes those steps to ensure that they differentiate themselves. And it's difficult because it can be an expensive proposition for a small service provider, but it can become a differentiator for them as well. 

And there's a company that, for example, we helped them build a business model to serve the business community in their province. They were wildly successful. They killed the incumbent. Outside of the big cities, they owned the marketplace for the business community to the point where a national organization bought them and adopted the business model that we helped them build. 

We can help our customers, and we can bring customers from other service provider sectors together with our enterprise customers so that there's a holistic approach to this security and managed services collectively. Charter, our enterprise customers, our service provider customers, and our manufacturing partners, we can build more resiliency, more security, and more reliability than anyone focusing on one of those sectors can do. 


[29:06] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

It's amazing. You must have looked at some of the storyboard ahead of time, Robyn, because to wrap up our podcast today, I want to ask each of you a question. And that is, “When you're out working in the marketplace, what is the one distinguishing thing that, you think, Charter brings to the table to help a client?” Luke?


[29:27] Luke Scrymgeour, Charter, Account Manager

Robyn went back to it earlier. It comes back to the family approach and really caring about your business and caring about your business outcomes. And I think the unique thing that Charter brings is a holistic view of your IT environment and a strategy to get to where you want to be, as a business. And we're also going to help you get there. We're going to give you ideas. We're going to really delve into what your business does, [and] what you do, and then apply a digital strategy to that. 


[29:51] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

And by partnering, Robyn, you talked earlier about service providers, but ultimately it depends on the solution providers that you can work with; whether there are other hardware partners, or software companies; or people that do specialized consulting services to deal with secure connected workers - whatever that is. The fact that Charter is one of the leading solutions integrators in the marketplace that brings together the enterprise world and the service provider world is very, very, very valuable. 

And, Luke, as you said earlier, by starting and looking at an issue like Cybersecurity and not getting overwhelmed by it. But sitting there and bringing in a company, like Charter, to help you do an assessment, help you build a road map (I think were the words that you used,) and that, then, will allow you to figure your way through this. (As opposed to how to figure out how to remediate once you take in the cyber hit.)


[30:45] Luke Scrymgeour, Charter, Account Manager

Yeah, and I think from an account management perspective, that's what we do. We work and try and plan with the customer. We're not going to leave you. Were going to put a plan together and execute that plan - all the way through. 


[30:56] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

Well then, thank goodness we have Alnoor, here, because he is the solutions expert. And it's through all of the experiences you've had in your career, whether it's on the operation side or the IT side, that allows you to take all the puzzle pieces, put them together, and actually make it look like a piece of art. 


[31:12] Alnoor Karim, Charter, Solution Expert

Yes, where Luke referenced that we bring a strategic, long-term view and partnering with your organization, from a Managed Services perspective, this is, by nature, what we do from a corporate culture perspective. We instill this from the senior-executive level all the way down to the mentoring that we do for our new hires, when we pull them directly out of the community colleges and the universities. So, from a corporate-culture perspective, we try and instill the ethics and the organizational practice of making sure that we are invested in partnering with you as an organization. So that's kind of like table stakes. 

The one thing that would be a differentiator, from a Charter perspective, is that we've got employees that have been here a very, very long time. In IT, it's not unusual for somebody to switch positions within 18 months. The average length of an employee’s time at Charter is years, and years, and years. We have people here, that have been part of Charter, for the last 22 years. 


[32:17] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

Well, Robyn, just to tie this up, then. You've been in the marketplace for 4X-plus years. That wisdom that you bring to the service-provider market, the wisdom that you bring in working together with Luke and Alnoor every day in the marketplace is truly valued. And that's a unique part of the business proposition that Charter embraces every day. Would you agree? 


[32:41] Robyn Foret, Charter, General Manager, AB, East

Absolutely. And to your initial question about what's different about Charter, of course we have a short-term view. If a client has a need that they need addressed immediately, we are able to do that. But we don't lose sight of the future. 

Charter has been in existence for 26 years. We've got clients that have been our clients for 26 years. Typically, when we have a client, we have a client for a very, very, very, very, long time. Because we're not focused on selling the client something tomorrow. We're focused on that client's business and the important outcomes for that client. And that typically goes three years, five years, ten years. 

And our long-term view and our long-term relationship with our clients is very different in the marketplace. IT can be a short game. We see a lot of churn. We see a lot of [it,] with employees moving from place to place - because people want to grow. That's another nice thing, with Charter, because we have so many growth opportunities within the organization. With a primarily client focus on everything that we do, it really sets us apart. 


[32:36] Luke Scrymgeour, Charter, Account Manager

Well, even as well as the advisory and consultancy services that we've invested in over the last, I'm going to say 6- to 12-months, really brings a new set of offerings for us to offer our clients - to be able to look further ahead, as well. 


[33:50] Robyn Foret, Charter, General Manager, AB, East



[33:51] Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator

Well, I want to thank Robyn, Alnoor, and Luke for the tremendous insights that you've shared with our audience today. We hope today's podcast has been valuable and thank you for investing the time to listen to our program. The Charter team is already working on the next episode of “Charter Engage – Know IT.”



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Presenters: (Listed in speaking order.)

Mark George, Charter, Director – Energy, Resources & Industrial Markets, Moderator
Mark George is a proven business leader with global experience across multiple industries. He currently serves as the Director – Energy, Resources and Industrial Markets for Charter. Prior to that, he worked for five years as Managing Partner and Founder of EdgeMark Capital and Advisory Services Inc., a capital markets and financial advisory services firm.  Mark’s in-depth energy markets experience developed through leadership roles with Environmental Refueling Systems Inc. and with PricewaterhouseCoopers.  From 2000 to 2010, he served as the Founder and President of the Cielo group of companies, a fully integrated residential and commercial construction and real estate development company in Arizona. Mark has an intense interest in emerging technologies, having spent 15 years with Nortel, Bay Networks, DEC, and Honeywell in progressive sales, management, and executive roles throughout the Americas and Asia Pacific. [] Mark proudly serves on the boards of several privately held companies and not-for-profit organizations. 

Robyn Foret, Charter, General Manager, AB, East

Alnoor Karim, Charter, Solution Expert
Alnoor is a key Charter Solution Expert, Manager, and hybrid cloud Infrastructure specialist with over 20 years of experience in a project-based environment; having negotiated vendor contracts, assisted legal teams with responding to and assessing licensing entitlements, and implemented IT infrastructure capital projects. He has considerable experience working in an OT environment. Alnoor also is an Instructor at SAIT.

Luke Scrymgeour, Charter, Account Manager
With over 15 years of experience in the IT Industry, Luke has gathered extensive experience providing his clients with IT solutions to meet short- and long-term business requirements. As a business-focused Account Manager, he is tasked with Managing Mid-Market and Enterprise accounts across all verticals focusing on Business Outcomes for his clients. He continuously builds trust with new and long-term clients as well as internal business units within Charter to deliver high-quality IT solutions to his customers.