At Black Diamond Group, we know we’re living in an ever-changing world; disruption, macro-economics, end-market volatility and government policy changes impact a company’s ability to plan for growth in the future.
At the same time, innovation, government spending, and emerging markets present immense opportunity for business to capitalize on. The key is to be ready for whatever the future might hold. That is the purpose of Onward: A Visionary Summit. We know there is no crystal ball to predict the future, but we also know our network and ecosystem is full of intelligent, experienced professionals who can help guide us as we try to determine what the future might hold.
This year's, conference took place on June 15 and 16 in Calgary, Alberta. Attendees, including Black Diamond Group’s Board of Directors, leaders and stakeholders, had the opportunity to participate in a forward-looking and inspiring day. The presentations and discussions were thoughtfully curated around three key themes – The Economy, Indigenous Perspectives on Major Project Development, and Travel and Technology: Industry Trends, Big Data & AI – to help set the stage for Black Diamond’s leaders to envision the direction of the Black Diamond businesses over the next three to five years.
Our three panelists presented on topics unique to their fields of work, but one common theme emerged: Alberta and Canada will recover from the COVID recession, just as we have recovered from boom-and-bust cycles in the past. The panelists discussed inflation, the housing market and the rise of interest rates as factors that should inform decision-making. Noting that Canadian unemployment rates are reaching nearly 50-year lows, and that there is a lot of publicly funded construction and infrastructure planned for the next few years. New trends, like urbanization – retrofitting a pre-COVID world to fit post-COVID reality – are emerging, while other preexisting trends like investing in conflict-free energy continue to remain important.
Indigenous Perspectives on Major Project Development
From the perspectives of both Indigenous and Corporate panelists, the key ingredient to successful Indigenous partnerships on energy projects, or any major project development is seeking to understand. Active listening and encouraging Indigenous communities to voice concerns before, during and after development, will ensure that all parties are aligned. Merasty and Chief Willson spoke of past challenges, and articulated how organizations can do better, while highlighting the tangible benefits of strong, collaborative corporate partnerships.
Sorenson and Anderson shared corporate perspectives, emphasizing the importance of thoughtful collaboration and respect during consultation with First Nations. Sorenson reminded attendees that there is no project that will erase the more than 200 years of conflict; we must instead focus on shared benefits and what Nations want and need from the projects. Anderson left attendees with the question; “How can we work toward the greater good before, during and after these projects”?
Keynote Address by Minister Doug Schweitzer
Minister Schweitzer’s remarks centered around the government’s investment into the future of the province. Schweitzer discussed the budget assumptions and confirmed that the province is poised to recover well. As the government sees revenue rise, it will continue to focus on paying down debts. The Minister shared the key to success in Alberta is building upon the province’s strengths, like hydrogen, petrochemicals and natural gas, but also to investing in renewable energy, and other industries. For example, he revealed that Amazon Web Services recently invested $4 billion into Alberta, the film industry has been increasingly active in the province, and we have an opportunity to support Alberta’s robust agriculture and tourism industries, further increasing confidence and investment in our province.
Travel & Technology: Industry Trends, Big Data & AI
Our panelists delved into the inner workings of AI, big data and workforce travel to educate attendees on the connections, synergies and opportunities. Although highly technical, the decision to use AI and big data should be a business strategy, rather than a technology strategy. Whether we know it or not, we interact with AI and big data every day. As a result, any AI strategy should focus on helping companies make smarter business decisions that benefit both the brand, values and business direction, while improving the customer experience. By focusing on solving problems and developing a minimum viable product, companies can successfully employ AI.
From a workforce travel perspective, panelists all asserted that travel companies can improve customer satisfaction by focusing on soft attributes – how customers feel, how they receive their information, etc. – and gauging customer readiness by examining success in adjacent businesses and industries.
To learn more about Onward: A Visionary Summit, please visit our Onward webpage, here.