Canadians are technology followers, not leaders: report

A new report by the Centre for the Study of Living Standards (CSLS) shows that Canadian businesses are not very forward-thinking when it comes to technology, and, on a whole, spend far too little on machinery, equipment, and software to improve workers’ productivity.

The study’s author note that there has been an “investment gap” between Canada and the U.S. for years, and this investment gap has only grown. In 2009, for example, the difference between spending on machinery, equipment, and software grew from 37.2 per cent to 40.5 per cent. The CSLS says that this low level of spending is negatively affecting economic productivity.

Findings like these are backed up by other studies. For example, the Council of Canadian Academies in 2009 released a report that says Canadian businesses are more likely to follow the lead of U.S. counterparts instead of innovating themselves.

“The ICT investment picture is consistent with the view that Canadian businesses on the whole … are technology followers, not leaders and are reluctant to adopt new practices until they have been well proven south of the border. In today’s fast paced world that strategy is unlikely to work as a well as it once did,” the report said.

The low level of investment isn’t just hurting the productivity of businesses, says The Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity; it’s affecting consumers’ pocket books. In their June 2010 report, they assert that the average Canadian household would have $12,200 yearly in additional disposable income if the gap was closed.

The Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) has a free copy of the CSLS report available here.