TORONTO—A new paper from the Business development Bank of Canada (BDC) has identified six major emerging changes that the bank believes are fundamentally reshaping Canada’s business environment
Key findings from the study, Future-Proof Your Business: Adapting to Demographic and Technology Trends, suggest the impact from these changes will be profound and offer much opportunity for those companies that embrace them.
“Our survey clearly shows that businesses can’t afford to ignore the major changes in Canada’s workforce and digital technology,” says Pierre Cléroux, vice-president, research and chief economist at BDC. “Those who get ahead of the changes are building stronger, faster-growing and more profitable companies.”
“Digital technologies are already transforming how we live, learn and work,” says Bardish Chagger, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism. “This trend is only going to accelerate further. And while this technology represents tremendous opportunity, it also requires that we adapt to these modern realities.”
Here is a brief look at some emerging trends:
Embracing cultural diversity: a winning recruitment strategy
While several studies emphasize that companies with an ethnically diverse labour force perform better financially, only six per cent of Canadian entrepreneurs reported relying on immigrant workers to fill their needs for skilled employees. Immigrants will account for two-thirds of Canada’s population growth in 2022 and up to 80 per cent by 2032, according to Statistics Canada data.
“Our survey shows that entrepreneurs need to do more to understand the contributions that new Canadians could make to their business,” says Cléroux. “Many business owners are missing out on this important pool of talent.”
Businesses that took action to facilitate hiring skilled workers, such as new Canadians, expect higher annual sales growth.
Use of e-commerce platforms expected to double by 2020
Digital platforms are making it simpler and more convenient for customers to get what they want, when they want it and how they want it. And consumers are making purchases armed with more information than ever before. In fact, BDC found that nine out of 10 consumers systematically visit a company’s website before contacting it for information, and more than half of the business-to-business buying process is done online before a salesperson is contacted.
According to BDC, businesses that have embraced digital technologies have improved their customer experience (49 per cent), boosted revenue growth (34 per cent), and enhanced their efficiency through lower costs (36 per cent) and better productivity (45 per cent).
Yet, survey results suggests that, social media aside, digital technology adoption remains quite low among small businesses, with less than one quarter of businesses with fewer than 20 employees currently using e-commerce platforms. Fortunately, this proportion is expected to rise to about 48 per cent by 2020.
BDC’s survey was conducted online with 1,413 business leaders across Canada. The survey was sent to members of a BDC panel as well as to a group of panellists recruited by Maru/Matchbox.