Growing our value to the community

This past 2020-21 fiscal year was a record-breaking one for Cybera, both in terms of the number of services we now offer to our expanding member community, but also the savings achieved by those services. 

Between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, Cybera’s combined services achieved over $16 million in gross savings for its 106 members.

Many of these savings were fueled by new projects, including new cybersecurity offerings for the education space, as well as expansions to existing services. For example, the Virtual Firewall Service (Cybera’s virtual alternative to expensive and/or time-consuming physical hardware setups) is now serving 31 school districts / post secondary institutions — a 29% increase in participation over the previous year. The Rapid Access Cloud now supports over 3,500 Albertans (largely researchers and students) — a 42% increase from 2019-20.

Meanwhile, the Alberta ShareIT Program continues to expand its IT procurement program, as well as roll out new cybersecurity and professional development / training services. The program added seven new contracts and hosted 29 information and knowledge building webinars for members in the last fiscal, the most it has ever accomplished in a single year.

Looking beyond the numbers

Of course, what these numbers don’t adequately highlight are the non-financial benefits that come from our services. The time that members save from using our platforms, the skills and knowledge they gain from our training sessions or collaboration meetings, the threats that are halted when our team spots an issue and works with an institution to address it before it escalates, the technology solutions they discover through our regular communications and events.

And of course, one of the greatest values Cybera offers is the partnerships, communities and collaborations we foster. It’s impossible (and impractical) to put an ROI number on how we are building our foundational support model for collaboration. But this is by far the most important work we are doing for our members.

Planning for the new wave of members

In 1994, when Cybera (originally called WurcNet) was created, we initially served our founding members, the Universities of Calgary and Alberta. By 2011, our community had grown to 18 organizations. After that, membership increased dramatically, growing by over 480% in the last decade. This sudden uptake can largely be attributed to the new services introduced by Cybera to increase digital efficiencies and opportunities in Alberta, particularly for the post-secondary and K-12 sector.

To further support the latter group of members, we recently created a K-12 Advisory Group to brainstorm projects / services that will specifically benefit this sector. Our goal is to action one or two of these services within the next year.

Cybera staff are also starting to think about the next three-year strategy (to commence in 2022), and what services we can introduce to benefit all members. We would welcome your feedback, so please be on the lookout for our member survey in the fall. Or, if you have any ideas for services that you would like to discuss now, please reach out to us.

Ultimately, while we continue to find ways to increase cost savings for members, Cybera will focus further on finding ways to be more efficient with our time and resources, and deepen our model of trust and partnership with our community. It’s not just about growing our membership base and offering new services — it’s about rethinking how we solve problems by working together more through partnerships, and creating shared models of expertise.

This is where our value will really lie as we move into our next three-year mandate.

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