Canadian businesses get ‘digital transformation’ memo, but still only 38% executing digital strategies

TORONTO, Canada — April 12, 2017 — IDC Canada research conducted in partnership with SAP Canada today reveals that while awareness among Canadian businesses of the opportunities of digital technology has reached critical mass, only 38% are acting on that knowledge.

The study of 300 Canadian executives at large and mid-sized organizations found that, alongside those already executing digital strategies, 50% are planning and building their strategy and 12% are still determining their plan. Compared to last year, awareness of the digital economy among executives has increased from 49% to 89%, indicating an almost universal readiness across the Canadian business world to consider digital technology.

Further supporting the notion that Canadian executives have woken up to the opportunities and threats presented by digital technology is that 76% of executives already see non-traditional companies invading their competitive space. This is in contrast to IDC Canada research at the end of 2015 that revealed 66% of executives did not see the digital economy having an immediate impact on their business.

The new study also found that:

  • 74% said their industry faces a tsunami of change over the next two years.
  • 72% believe Canadian organizations are lagging in productivity.
  • Despite these feelings, 51% of executives say their organization is only on par with its peers on commitment to digital transformation, with a further 27% falling behind and only 22% with a sense that they are exceeding or ‘best in class’.

John Graham, President, SAP Canada, said: “The good news is that most Canadian executives have now grasped the urgency of embracing digital technology, so this is not just another story of doom and gloom for Canadian businesses. The new cause for alarm, however, is that nearly two-thirds are still in planning mode, and I would suggest that in 2017 that means they aren’t moving fast enough.”

Tony Olvet, IDC Canada, said: “Our study shows that organizations really paid attention to the digital transformation message in 2016, but this year they need to turn that thinking into doing. Canadian leaders must also take a broader view of digital transformation and competition, look beyond Canada and outside of their industry.”

The Aldo Group, a Canadian retailer growing its business with a forward-thinking omnichannel strategy, is setting an example in an industry that has generally lagged in digitizing the customer experience and fixated instead on logistics, pricing and basic ecommerce.

Jennifer Maks, VP eCommerce, Aldo Group, The Aldo Group, said: “Our investment in creating a strong eCommerce platform and building on that with a comprehensive omnichannel strategy was a relatively early move by Canadian retail standards. We’re now seeing it bear fruit with increased conversion rates and sales growth, and with this foundation in place we’re able to continue innovating to drive an even better experience for our customers.”

The IDC Canada study, which includes comparisons between Canadian businesses and their global peers, statistics on the digitization of Canadian industries, and transformation stories from City of Toronto, ALDO, Maple Leaf Foods and others, can be read here. The survey was conducted by IDC Canada in November and December 2016, and included 300 senior management respondents from organizations with revenues of $250M or greater.

In February 2017, SAP Canada co-launched DXagents, a first-of-its-kind national digital transformation accelerator made up of a consortium of business leaders and technologists from leading private, public and not-for-profit organizations in Canada. The year-long partnership including Deloitte, Amazon Web Services, Intel and other organizations aims to help Canadian businesses better understand and get on the path to realizing their digital transformation opportunities.

Click here to read the IDC Canada report.

For more information, visit the SAP News Center. Follow SAP on Twitter at @sapnews.

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