A consortium of the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), CATAAlliance and the CIO Association of Canada (CIOCAN) have today released a new manifesto and roadmap urging industry, policy makers, and educators to invest in the benefits of greater digital adoption, particularly by small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The paper outlines the economic and social benefits of digital adoption, and asserts 11 catalysts to help achieve those. In addition, the partners note that they are currently building a Digital Adoption Compass – a one-stop shop for research, resources and case studies for SMEs. Stakeholders wishing to make a contribution to this effort are invited to contact the partners for further details. The Compass will launch fully in late October 2014.
“The global economy is upon us and emerging digital technologies such as mobile apps, digital platforms, and cloud architectures have the potential to create Canadian competitive advantage and boost productivity and innovation – but only if the advanced capabilities of those technologies are adopted by Canadian enterprises in the private and public sectors,” says Namir Anani, President and CEO of ICTC.
“Large organizations in Canada often have the capacity to fully embrace technology as a competitive advantage. But, the composition of Canada’s industry is one of small and medium enterprises. In fact over 75% of Canada’s industry is represented by organizations of less than 10 employees,” says CATAAlliance President John Reid. “These organizations have limited resources and find it the hardest to adopt technologies. This paper is intended as a roadmap for such organizations to assist them to understand the catalysts and chart a path forward.”
“Just a 1% increase in labour productivity as the result of adopting mobile technology would yield $2.5 billion to the Canadian economy – $8 billion if multiple emerging technologies were well-adopted. Yet, today, just half of Canadian enterprises have enabled mobile solutions across their entire workforce,” notes Gary Davenport, President of CIOCAN.
Put simply, technology, in our assessment, is not yet seen as an important enough part of executive and managerial discussions in most Canadian enterprises.
This paper explores in a short space the opportunities that exist to accelerate digital adoption by Canadian enterprises, the challenges to greater adoption, concrete solutions for overcoming those, and suggested next steps. We invite all stakeholders to get involved to make our Digital Adoption Campaign a success.
View the Digital Adoption Roadmap in English here, or in French here.
The bullets below are a summary of the action items for which ICTC/CATAAlliance/CIOCAN are advocating. Each is explored in greater detail in our full report: Digital Adoption, Advancing Canada’s place in a global economy.
The adoption roadmap paper is the most recent initiative of the Digital Adoption Consortium, following the submission of an advocacy paper in February 2014 to Industry Canada’s consultation on innovation. Once published, the Consortium partners will begin the selection of organizations and case studies to be contributed to a Canadian Digital Adoption Compass – a collaborative, information-rich, one-stop shop for digital adoption learning and resources.
Catalysts for adoption:
• Large companies should consider assisting smaller Canadian ones by helping them adopt the technology necessary to integrate into global supply chains, or adopt technologies that strengthen the whole ecosystem.
• Canadian enterprises are able to avail themselves of excellent programs such as the Scientific Research and Experimental Development tax credit, but a patent box or innovative mechanisms such as crowdfunding should be implemented to bolster the pool of capital available to innovative, early-stage technology companies that are otherwise not as well served by risk-averse Canadian financial institutions.
• SMEs should be encouraged to build links with the educational system in schools, colleges and universities to ensure a healthy supply of the skills necessary to create and adopt innovative technologies.
• For corporate and business managers, up-skilling and continuous learning will be a critical factor in maintaining competitiveness. Digital leadership competencies will be critical. Business leaders should seek opportunities to continuously train their staff, and even more importantly themselves, about the state of technology and its benefits.
• At the university and college level, greater use of vocational training including through co-ops and placements should be employed to ensure skills are immediately relevant when students graduate into the workplace.
• In a manner similar to how the Government of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program has approximately 250 experienced Industrial Technology Advisors on the ground to coach/advise/educate tech-based SMEs on how to grow their business and develop new technology products and services, the most direct way to help non-tech SMEs is with a dedicated network of “Digital Technology Adoption Advisors”. This network should be set up as quickly as possible.
• From high-powered computing to access to open data sources and the training necessary to take advantage of those, policies at research institutions and by governments should consider small business in their operating models and offerings to have the greatest impact for the largest number of Canadians. Further, the necessary funding to acquire technologies to enable new offerings in this arena should be made available.
• When adopting new technology, enterprises should pursue security-by-design and privacy-by-design enterprise architecture approaches.
• More of Canada’s populations under-represented in ICT careers (Aboriginal Canadians, for instance, and women) should be encouraged to pursue tech careers to boost the supply of talent available to companies adopting emerging technologies. Digital skills should be taught from the earliest age in public schools, in partnership with industry to understand required competencies.
• Where market forces are not sufficient to entice technology adoption, tax and other financial incentives for priority sectors should be considered by policy makers.
• Not just CIOs, but the whole C-suite and Canada’s cadre of business leaders should take responsibility for having informed digital adoption conversations.