Change is Coming as Canadian Businesses Prep for Widespread Transformation

Canadian businesses are going to look completely different in the very near future.

A new report details how a massive wave of transformation will soon hit almost every single Canadian business and industry, and the focus on digital transformation will be the on top of how these companies push into the future. Capturing the Change Wave: How Canadian Businesses are Transforming is a new MNP report that shows 86 per cent of Canadian businesses are currently experiencing or anticipate a business transformation in the next 12 months.

Beyond that, 83 per cent say that at least one kind of tech advancement is already underway at their company, and many companies are planning to increase tech investments over the next year as well.

“Canadian businesses have long been criticized for being digital laggards,” said Trent Bester, SVP of consulting at MNP. “Our results indicate the start of an important shift but there needs to be a real sense of urgency. In terms of technological readiness and digital competitiveness, Canada is languishing behind.”

The survey asked 1,200 business leaders in multiple industries all about how their company was shifting and adapting to new technologies. Over nine out of 10 companies reported there was some kind of barrier preventing them from transforming as they want to—42 per cent say it is their budget, 32 per cent say available time and staff, and 27 per cent say they need different skills and expertise.

As far as optimism goes when it comes to transforming a business, there is generally a lot of enthusiasm surrounding change. The chart below shows exactly how different sorts of businesses react to transformation.

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When digital transformation is split down by industry, one sector pops out above the rest. For energy and natural resources companies, 97 per cent say they will see a transformation over the next year. This is a huge amount, but it makes sense given the current climate of renewable energy and shifting attitudes towards traditional resource use. On the other hand, 80 per cent real estate and construction companies believe a change will happen.

Something has to drive transformation though. When it comes to an internal force, profitability reigns supreme, as 48 per cent believe that is the major factor pushing change. Next is strategic planning at 44 per cent and employee skills or attitudes at 41 per cent. As far as the different external forces behind a business transforming, technology is the obvious first factor at 45 per cent, followed by consumer demand at 41 per cent and competitive forces at 39 per cent.

The study points out a few obvious points: the drive to stay profitable and competitive will keep a business abreast of new ways to transform and thrive. What’s more interesting is that the employees within the companies themselves are also important forces driving change; that might mean younger generations forcing legacy companies to change their ways, or new companies utilizing their brilliant minds to push boundaries.

The point of transformation is varied though. Besides internal or external forces all boiling down to profitability, the primary nature of a transformation, along with additional benefits, are shown below.

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It also seems many companies consult outside entities to facilitate transformation. Only 6 per cent do not use an external service, while 94 per cent use at least one and 68 per cent use at least three. Examples of these third-parties could be tech support, business consultants or tax expertise.

The study goes on to dive into what kinds of digital transformation initiatives are already underway, with platform integration (mainly cloud services) leading the way. A close second is the development of digital enhancements for existing products such as apps or cloud delivery.

Technology will shape how Canadian businesses make money and thrive—that’s a given, But it is interesting to see how these companies react to specific changes and make the transition from legacy tech to a brand new frontier.