By Karen Graham

New research from IDC Canada finds that Canadian executives need to embrace digital transformation and risk-taking to remain globally competitive, and the rate of adoption varies widely when it comes to major tech trends.

Toronto-based IDC Canada is a provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets.

IDC Canada found that many Canadian retailers are at risk of falling behind in embracing digital transformation, with 77 percent of companies having no strategy for innovation.

“Building Success in the Digital Economy” is based on interviews with 31 representatives from Canadian enterprises with revenue of more than $500 million, supplemented by other insights from IDC Canada. The study was sponsored by SAP Canada, one of the largest enterprise software companies in the world, helping businesses of all sizes, in all industries run better.

The whole basis of the research brings home the fact that digital transformation seems to have hit a low point, possibly due to poor leadership, disconnects between IT and the business, lagging employee engagement, and substandard operations.

Tony Olvet, the vice-president of research at IDC, said they found in case studies that the real front-runners in digital transformation stand apart, suggesting that people within the company have embraced the technology and are comfortable enough with it to sway other people’s opinions.

“There were individuals, not necessarily at the very top, but key players within the organization that are able to connect the dots and facilitate innovation in different business units,” Olvet said.

“They’re learning from those early implementations and also bringing those to other parts of the business, so digital front-runners are effectively building out their capabilities once they’ve done those proofs-of-concept.”

And while this is all well and good, what about the companies that have remained complacent, figuring on keeping the status quo simply because they are doing alright the way they are? The report says companies need to pick a strategy.

“Organizations will need to choose between weathering the storm, developing digital transformation competencies and becoming a disruptor, and becoming a fast follower of disruptors,” the report says.

Competition and customer demand

As Forbes points out, there is nothing as easy as shopping at Amazon. And Amazon is one business entity that has not only embraced digital technology, but it has transformed the way businesses and customers interact.
Olivet is very blunt in the report – and uses retail stores as an example, citing the success of Amazon against all its competitors. He says that while it is important to be aware of the international competition, it is also important to be attuned to shifting customer demands.

“I think the message is that you cannot be complacent,” he said. “Even though Amazon is not a Canadian-based organization, it just shows the international flavor of digital disruption.”

The report also points out that of the five big digital technologies, Cloud, IoT, big data analytics, artificial intelligence and blockchain, the common denominator is data. And keep in mind that in every sector of today’s economy, businesses can find more value and insights in their data to improve profitability, particularly when it comes to industrial applications.

But IDC Canada found that only 32 percent of Canadian enterprises see IoT as an important need for maintaining a competitive advantage.

“I would say we still have a bit of a conservative streak in us, in that we are dipping our toe in the water,” said Glenn Sawyer, director of IoT digital transformation with SAP Canada. “I don’t think we have adopted the technology as aggressively as the U.S. has, or in Europe.”

Conservative streak? It may be more than that. Research by the Information and Technology Council (IOTC) suggests one of the principal reasons for this conservative streak is the lack of skilled workers who can assess and implement technological innovations.

As the workplace becomes more digital, the requisite skills for a successful worker are evolving. In this dynamic environment, every professional needs to be comfortable with both digital technologies and business processes.

Original article can be found on

Written July 22, 2018