Coffee Briefings are timely deliveries of the latest ITWC headlines, interviews, and podcasts. Today’s Coffee Briefing is delivered by IT World Canada’s editorial team! 

Missed the last Coffee Briefing? We’ve got you covered.

The Ski and Snowboard CyberSecurity Conference to take place on Feb. 29


Cybersecurity experts who are also avid winter sports enthusiasts will convene at the 2nd Annual Ski and Snowboard CyberSecurity Conference on Feb. 29 at the Heights Ski & Country Club in Barrie, Ontario.

Attendees will be able to ski, snowboard, snowshoe and apres-ski, with rentals and instructors available on site, while networking with industry leaders. Additionally, the event will feature thought leadership and customer story sessions, as well as an executive panel.

Attendees requiring accommodations can call Horseshoe Resort directly to benefit from a special conference rate. Reservations must be made by Jan. 28, 2024 in order to qualify for the group rate.

General admission tickets can be purchased here at C$79.73.

Federal government says it’s on track to exceed connectivity targets


The government of Canada has said it is on track to exceed its goal of providing access to high-speed internet to 98 per cent of Canadian households by 2026, and 100 per cent by 2030, with projections showing that 98.6 per cent of Canadians will have access to high speed internet by 2026.

So far, 93.5 per cent of Canadian households have access to high-speed internet.

The $3.225 billion Universal Broadband Fund (UBF), as well as other federal and provincial investments, have been largely responsible for this progress.

Since the launch of the UBF in November 2020, 295 projects have been announced across Canada, including 45 in 2023 which will serve more than 200,000 households. In 2023, 40,000 households also gained new access to high-speed internet through completed UBF projects.

Additionally, the government has secured more than C$2 billion in co-funding with the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta, British Columbia, and Prince Edward Island, allowing for more households to be connected.

“The Government of Canada will continue working with provinces and territories, municipalities, Indigenous communities, and internet service providers so that all Canadians, no matter where they live, have access to high-speed internet as fast as possible,” said Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development.

Semiconductor capacity to reach record high 30 million wafers per month in 2024

Microelectronics association SEMI announced in its latest quarterly World Fab Forecast report that global semiconductor production capacity is expected to increase 6.4 per cent in 2024, reaching record levels of 30 million wafers per month (wpm).

The growth will be driven by capacity increases in logic and foundry, AI and high-performance computing  (HPC) applications, as well as the recovery in end-demand for chips. 

“Resurgent market demand and increased government incentives worldwide are powering an upsurge in fab investments in key chipmaking regions,” said Ajit Manocha, SEMI chief executive officer.

He added, “The heightened global attention on the strategic importance of semiconductor manufacturing to national and economic security is a key catalyst of these trends.”

Covering 2022 to 2024, the World Fab Forecast report shows that the global semiconductor industry plans to begin operation of 82 new volume fabs (fabrication plants), including 11 projects in 2023 and 42 projects in 2024, spanning wafer sizes ranging from 300mm to 100mm.

A sample of the report can be downloaded here. (Registration required)

Business leaders pouncing on private, secure generative AI tools: Report


Over 60 per cent of business leaders say their companies have deployed private, secure generative AI tools to the workforce, a survey conducted by Insight Enterprises, in partnership with The Harris Poll, found.

More than half (54 per cent) report improved productivity as a top outcome expected from the technology, as well as improved customer experience (42 per cent), improved customer service (40 per cent), and/or reduced human error (37 per cent).

However, employee knowledge or training on generative AI tools remains a top barrier to implementation.

“It’s remarkable that most IT budgets did not even anticipate generative AI a year and a half ago. But now, as we enter 2024, just about every business leader is fixated on how this technology can reinvent their operations and create new business models,” said David McCurdy, chief enterprise architect and chief technology officer at Insight. “That said, there’s a certain ‘finesse’ that many employees still need to acquire in order to effectively leverage generative AI in their work. As we shift gears into the next phase of adoption, advanced training will be crucial to success.”

Other insights from the report:

Generative AI tools are used for data analysis and visualization, task collaboration such as using as a copilot for research or email summarization, generating written content like reports or presentations, and to help with personalized learning.
Deeper applications to improve the business, like product design and development, are being readily explored.
Business leaders are being tasked to define return on investment for implementing generative AI
Security concerns when it comes to generative AI remain top of mind for business leaders
Only 15 per cent consider costs of implementation –  technical debt, initial implementation and ongoing maintenance costs – a barrier.

Montreal company secures large pre seed investment to fuel AI growth


INTO AI, a technology company that specializes in conversational AI solutions, has announced that it has secured a pre-seed investment of $400,000.

The company said that the pre-seed investment will be instrumental to further developing its technology, expanding its market reach, through sales and marketing efforts, as well as expanding its research and development team. 

“We firmly believe that AI is revolutionizing the way businesses engage with their customers,” said Sebastien Brault, CEO of INTO. “This pre-seed investment will enable us to further innovate and refine our solutions, empowering businesses to provide personalized, efficient, and seamless customer interactions.”

The company’s conversational AI technology has gained significant traction, particularly in the hospitality industry.

More to explore

Microsoft disables feature after abuse by threat actors

Application developers relying on Windows’ App Installer feature for distributing software over the web will have to find another vehicle, after Microsoft disabled a key protocol because it is being abused by threat actors.

HR Predictions 2024: Generative AI, employee experience, remote work and more

Generative AI will continue to influence how HR teams increase productivity and optimize employee experience in 2024, a new report from McLean & Company which surveyed 1,373 business professionals in September 2023, found.

A look back at Quantum in 2023

The field of quantum sciences is booming and has been prominent in the media throughout 2023. With the year coming to an end, let’s look back at what has happened in the last twelve months in the quantum field in Canada.

Predictions 2024: Artificial intelligence

The hottest topic of 2023, artificial intelligence (AI), has not only generated lots of interest this year, it has pundits of all descriptions coming out of the woodwork with predictions of what will happen in 2024.

2024 Telecom predictions: 5G, AI, sustainability and messaging trends to guide innovation

Next year, the telecommunications ecosystem will be guided by four key themes: 5G, artificial intelligence, sustainability and the messaging evolution, a report by Juniper Research identified.

Predictions 2024: Probing what’s in store for PC channel, MSPs

It is always good to have something to look forward to, and such will be the case next year for anyone in the channel involved in the selling of personal computers and accessories. We thus start off this particular crystal-ball gazing session with an upbeat prediction from Canalys.

Channel Bytes December 22, 2023 – National procurement standard published; Cisco to acquire Isovalent; Okta to acquire Spera Security; and more

Staying informed is a constant challenge. There’s so much to do, and so little time. But we have you covered. Grab a coffee and take five while you nibble on these tidbits.

Listen to the latest episode of Hashtag Trending

OpenAI Predictions for 2024: Hashtag Trending Holiday Bytes December 27th, 2023

Listen to the latest episode of Cybersecurity Today

Cyber Security Today, Dec. 29, 2023 – Get cracking on your cybersecurity strategic plan

Listen to the latest episode of Hashtag Tendances

If you live in Québec, or prefer to consume the latest technology news in French, our sister publication Direction Informatique has you covered. Follow them on Twitter as well.

The post Coffee Briefing Jan. 2 – Ski and Snowboard Cybersecurity Conference; Federal government provides update on connectivity targets; Montreal company secures pre seed investment to fuel AI growth; and more first appeared on IT World Canada.

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