An estimated 410,000 people are employed in Canada as a result of wide adoption of mobile technologies. In my research that I conducted with my colleagues at the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), we find that the adoption of mobile technologies and the opportunities that have created for employment creation, incremental efficiency and productivity gains, cost reduction, and revenue generation in all sectors of the Canadian economy is quite striking. In the mobile technology labour market, some occupations are invariably more crucial than others and demand for such jobs will continue to rise in the medium term. Nearly 12,000 new jobs will be created in five key occupations between now and 2017. When all the other relevant technical and non-technical occupations are taken into consideration, the total number of new jobs expected to be created by 2017 in mobile technologies and related services is approximately 40,000.
Growth in Canadian workers’ productivity levels has fallen by half between 2001 and 2011. An average Canadian worker today produces 23% less output than a worker in the U.S. and 45% less than a worker in Norway – the nation with highest labour productivity in the world.
Given a relative dearth of publicly-available data with respect to adoption of mobile technologies in the enterprise, this is the first study of its kind and it explores the benefits and costs of mobile technologies adoption at the enterprise and macro-economic levels; adoption and use of mobile technologies by employees; challenges to greater enterprise mobility adoption; specific costs associated with adopting, maintaining and upgrading mobile technologies; and, recommendations for enterprises and policy-makers to capitalize on opportunities and minimize cost and risks.
Chief among our findings, we have calculated on the basis of new primary and secondary research that businesses that adopt mobile technologies enhance their productivity and establish sustainable competitive advantage. This is of particular importance as growth in Canadian workers’ productivity levels has fallen by half between 2001 and 2011. An average Canadian worker today produces 23% less output than a worker in the U.S. and 45% less than a worker in Norway – the nation with highest labour productivity in the world.
Our econometric results suggest that a 10% increase in adoption of mobile technologies translates to a contribution of $25 billion to the economy. Much of the estimated contribution to the economy is a result of embracing mobile technologies by Canadian businesses. 51% of all Canadian businesses have adopted mobile technologies, as 100% of their employees use at least one form of mobile technology for work purposes. The other 49% of Canadian businesses have adopted mobile technologies to at least a certain extent in some businesses processes by some of their employees.
In their search to effectively position themselves to benefit, businesses are adopting mobile technologies for a variety of purposes. 91% of Canadian businesses use mobile technologies for anywhere connectivity (e.g. checking emails etc.), 69% use these technologies to enable employees to work from remote locations, 66% to network with clients, 56% for business development, 55% to access documents off-site, 51% to modernize business processes, and 46% to input data for faster information flow.
Mobile technologies adoption by province
Adoption and use of mobile technologies among workers across organizations and the provinces are not uniform. 55% of the workers in Quebec use mobile technologies for work purposes, while the corresponding ratio in Saskatchewan and Manitoba is 80%. Overall, 72% of all Canadian workers currently use at least one form of mobile technology for work purposes.
Canadian workers and employers report an average productivity gain (time savings) of 1.2 hours each week per worker. For business entities, this productivity gain translates to a 3% reduction in salary expenses or increase in output. Since the average worker salary Canada-wide is $24 per hour per, 3% is a sizeable savings on the whole.
The smartphone penetration rate reached 62% in 2012, implying over 17 million Canadians use smartphones. Many more will swap their cell phones for smartphones in the near future. The more the smartphone users, the bigger the impact of mobile technologies becomes. Mobile technologies are, without doubt, a significant contributor to the digital economy in Canada. Nearly three out of four (73%) Canadian businesses employ mobile technologies and digital platforms for marketing purposes. It is also estimated that company revenues increase between 12% and 15% as a result of strategic marketing using mobile technologies.
We consider that this is the first time such wide-ranging research on the impact of mobile technologies adoption has been conducted in a Canadian specific context. As think tanks and statistical agencies worldwide begin to generate more of this data following our lead, there will be a future opportunity to create useful international comparisons. While we consider that this report offers much needed clarity with respect to this topic, further work remains to be done.
I invite readers to engage with ICTC with respect to concrete actions that might be taken by all stakeholders to achieve new opportunities. In addition, stakeholders would benefit from further research efforts to study the economic and labour market impact of mobile technologies adoption in province- and sector-specific contexts.