The new year provides a great opportunity for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to consider potential future-focused investments. Companies of all sizes are increasingly embracing digitalization to reduce costs, increase productivity, and enhance customer service and the user experience. This shift has been significantly accelerated as a result of COVID-19 and shows no sign of slowing down. Customers and clients now expect more seamless, accessible, and responsive digital interactions at all times.
For SMEs in particular, digitalization can help them compete by driving their growth potential, reducing labour costs, and creating leaner internal processes. Digitalization can provide enhanced access to information, which ultimately helps these organizations grow and scale faster.
In Deloitte’s Catalyst 2030 report, we share how SMEs require not only innovation, but also investments in digital infrastructure including data, AI, automation, cloud software, and other technologies and tools to improve productivity. However, making the shift to digital business requires investment both in time and money, and Canada is lagging in making these investments. Even before the pandemic, Canadian businesses trailed behind their global counterparts in software investment by a considerable margin – Canada is 5.2 percent behind the US in this respect. Canadian businesses are also more likely to report slowing down their investment in AI due to perceived cyber risks, compared to their global counterparts.
For the new year, my advice to small and medium-sized business owners is to start taking the necessary steps to make the investment now and to be careful when evaluating and selecting technologies and vendors to provide long-term and sustainable solutions. Companies that fail to keep up with technological advancements such as these may find themselves obsolete and simply unable to compete in the future.
This cannot be the sole responsibility of entrepreneurs; government participation, through funding and access to digital training and tools, is also key to ensuring that our SMEs continue to thrive and that we build a competitive and resilient future economy.
By Duncan L. Sinclair
Chair of Deloitte Canada & Chile
Duncan Sinclair is the Chair of Deloitte Canada and Chile, and a member of the Deloitte Global Board. Throughout his 32-year career, Duncan’s professional activities include serving public and private global businesses in the mining, telecommunication, consumer business, manufacturing, real estate, and construction industries, as well as national and regional governments.
Duncan is passionate about developing those around him and building a better future for Canada and Chile. Duncan currently serves as Chair of the Long Term Investment Organization and sits on The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation Board of Directors.