In a recent conversation, a client mentioned that she is thinking a lot about the technology needed to take her organization to the next level. She’s not alone. Many CEOs are in the same place, and according to Terri Mann, Vice President of Financing for GTA, Central and East at BDC, that’s exactly as it should be.
I had the pleasure of hearing Terri speak at the Small & Mighty Summit on May 13th. Small & Mighty Summits are one-day events, hosted by Change Connect, designed to connect small business leaders with insights and information on emerging trends and opportunities to help them grow their businesses. At this session, focused on digital technology and AI, Mann warned participants that resisting disruptive technology is the same as resisting electricity. “You need to be thinking about this to survive.”
In her presentation, she shared insights BDC gleaned from its study Digitize Now: How to Make the Digital Shift in Your Business. In the study, BDC assessed the digital maturity of over 2,000 Canadian businesses, plotting them into the categories of techno-shy, advanced, conservative, and techno-centric based on investment and adoption.
They discovered that the majority of Canadian businesses are conservative meaning most have invested very little and don’t have a culture to support transformation at this time.
Mann shared two key findings from the study:
Digital maturity has a massive bottom-line impact
Digitally mature companies have higher sales and profits. They are also more likely to innovate and export. On the opposite end of the spectrum, companies that aren’t investing or adopting have seen sales plummet in the last three years, and many have flatlined.
Not enough small businesses are digitally advanced
Mann noted that while things are changing that will have an impact on maturity, such as the number of ready-to-use, affordable solutions available to small businesses, she cautioned that success is only possible if a culture of change exists. “If your business isn’t ready, it won’t matter how much you spend on technology.”
The study also revealed that Quebec is home to the highest number of digitally mature companies; the bulk of mature businesses fall into the categories of business-to-business service, tourism, and retail; and, not surprisingly, the highest levels of maturity exist among organizations with more than 100 employees.
Her tips for the audience were:
Start small but think big– You need to develop a plan and imagine the path to get there.
Establish a culture of change– Mann shared that BDC spent a significant amount on technology for frontline staff, including building apps and purchasing iPads to help them present scenarios and process loans, but no one was using the technology. In assessing the situation, they realized that they had neglected to evaluate their culture before deploying the new technology and they needed a change management strategy to support adoption.
Never stop improving – She stressed that organizations must commit to continuous improvement, and continually iterate and anticipate what’s next.
In closing, Mann encouraged event participants to try BDC’s free digital maturity assessment tool—a 19-question survey designed to assess digital maturity relative to others and provide tips for improvement. A full report, including additional resources, is available upon completion of the assessment.