Mario ToneguzziThe Business Development Bank of Canada has launched BDC Small Business Week this week with a simple theme – Digitize now: Transform your business.

“In today’s connected, automated and data-driven world, it’s vital for Canadian businesses to embrace new technologies to keep up with the competition,” said Pierre Cléroux, vice-president of research and chief economist at BDC.

“As Canada’s only bank devoted exclusively to entrepreneurs, we see every day how businesses are accelerating their performance by harnessing digital technologies,” added Michael Denham, BDC’s president and CEO. “We want to help, which is why we are making available a new $250 million lending envelope to provide the money entrepreneurs need for projects that are key to their productivity and growth.”

BDC released on Monday a study that reveals the dramatic impact digital transformation can have on sales growth. In How to Make the Digital Shift in Your Business, the bank assesses the level of digital maturity in Canada’s small and medium enterprises.

Based on a survey of 2,000 Canadian entrepreneurs, the study found that only 19 per cent have strongly adopted digital technology and culture, whereas 57 per cent have weak digital maturity.

BDC announced it is also debuting a free online digital maturity assessment that allows businesses to measure their use of digital technologies, compare themselves against other companies and get valuable advice on how to kick off change.

“Digital maturity is a key success factor for SMEs. Businesses with higher digital maturity are 62 per cent more likely to have high sales growth than other businesses, more likely to have high profit growth (52 per cent) and are three times more likely to have innovated. Businesses with weak digital maturity often struggle to grow sales and often see sales fall,” said BDC.

The study identified five steps that Canadian businesses can take to digitize right now:

  • define and share their digital vision, by learning about digital technologies, identifying bottlenecks and production problems that have to be resolved before bringing in digital technologies, and creating an action plan;
  • invest in technology with gradual changes and focusing on customer needs;
  • establish a culture of change by building a change team, training employees and rewarding risk-taking;
  • unleash the power of data and use it for decision-making and keeping track of useful information;
  • work for continuous improvement by measuring performance and adapting the business model.

Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald, including 12 years as a senior business writer.


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