Canadian Organizations Face Barriers to Digital Adoption and Transformation

A recent report from Deloitte LLP points out that “As some organizations begin to reap the benefits of the digital revolution, the disparities that threaten progress have become more apparent for others.” The report, Digital equity: Empowering all organizations to succeed in the digital era, finds that not all Canadian organizations are equipped to seize the opportunities created by digital technologies.

The research reveals that small and medium enterprises (SMEs), Indigenous-owned and -led organizations, public sector organizations and not-for-profit organizations, face disproportionate barriers to digital equity. “Existing and emerging digital technologies carry huge potential to benefit Canadian organizations and spur economic growth, but a lack of in-house specialized technology experience to shape digital strategies or guide digital investment decisions, digital skills shortages in the labour market, and a constantly evolving regulatory and cyberthreat environment, interfere with these organizations’ ability catch up, keep up or thrive in a digital era.”

According to says Anthony Viel, CEO, Deloitte Canada, “our people are the lifeblood of a resilient economy, and we must first identify, then work to eliminate barriers and ensure they have the skills needed for the future. Thriving organizations create the foundation for thriving people, communities, and societies. The current convergence of cutting-edge technologies underpins a future of possibilities, promising enhanced efficiency, growth, and innovation for all Canadians, and organizations of all sizes across the country. If we act now, Canada’s future can be bright, with outcomes for government, business and people.”

Some of the survey findings include:

  • Two-thirds (67%) of survey respondents describe the cost of software licences and subscriptions as somewhat or very challenging, with one in four (25%) describing it as a great challenge.
  • 56% say choosing between competing software vendors or cloud service providers is somewhat or very challenging.
  • A majority (58%) of survey respondents say uncertainty about which technologies would be most beneficial to the organization is somewhat or very challenging.
  • 67% of organizations with over 10 employees say hiring digitally skilled workers is somewhat or very challenging, which rises to 70% for medium (100-499 employees) and large organizations (500 employees or more).
  • 59% of organizations permit employees to use personal mobile devices for work, while almost a third (32%) permit employees to use personal computers or laptops for work – increasing attack surface for cybercriminals. Meanwhile, 20% of Canadian business leaders surveyed say their organization has not invested in any cybersecurity software or applications.

Some of the recommendations from the report include:

Connect every organization with the right digital tools

  • By creating a digital investment strategy clearly linking digital investments to business objectives, employers can participate in the digital economy as they see fit.
    • Attending conferences, trade shows, summits, and seminars will help employers address knowledge gaps around digital solutions and keep them on the pulse of what digital tools are available in the marketplace.
    • Participating in peer networks and industry groups, are ways for leaders to learn from one another and share best practices.

Ensure organizations have the skills to thrive in the digital economy 

  • Organizations, especially smaller ones and non-profits, that are facing challenges finding and retaining digital talent need to think strategically about their talent value proposition and how it can speak better to digital and tech talent – including by being purpose/mission-forward.
  • Employers can leverage massive open online courses (MOOCs) for on-demand learning paired with informal learning experiences (e.g., lunch-and-learns, mentorships, work-shadowing arrangements) to round out a low-cost upskilling program.
  • Participating in industry advisory groups and working with partners to create industry training hubs are ways organizations can catch up, keep up, or thrive in the digital era.

Build a secure and inclusive digital ecosystem
Government policy decisions that mandate tech-enablement (such as e-invoicing and open banking), can be real force multipliers for digital adoption, and specifically accelerate small business tech adoption. By designating data protection and privacy champions and educating the workforce on data protection and related vendor management practices, employers can ensure the organization is staying abreast of the latest in the regulatory environment.

Click here to read the full report.