Canada’s biggest obstacle to innovation is attitude

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The Globe and Mail |  | Apr 30, 2017

James MaynardCanada is at a crossroads. Look one way and you’ll see enormous opportunities presented by the Digital Revolution. The other way is business as usual. But in fact, that’s not even an option. If we stand still, Canada’s future prosperity is at risk. There is an urgent need for our country to move beyond extracting natural resources and capitalize on the opportunities presented by the knowledge-based economy.

"There is increasing awareness of the need to build digital competitiveness."

Our country is well positioned to succeed in the digital era – if only we adopt the right attitude. And that is all about thinking like a startup. Large or small, Canadian businesses must adopt the mindset of a startup. Not tomorrow, not next week. We need to start now.

Our federal government recognizes the urgency of this situation. Its Innovation Agenda is aimed squarely at helping Canadian businesses compete globally. But where I see hope, is with our country’s many small and medium enterprises (SME). SMEs with fewer than 500 people comprise 97.9 per cent of Canadian businesses and employ 91 per cent of Canada’s private sector work force. In the past, the large number of small businesses has been seen as a disadvantage; SMEs often don’t have deep pockets or the resources to make a mark globally. But in a time of digital disruption where a team of 55 people at What’sApp can capture a market of half a billion people, SMEs have the agility to pivot with their products and services, to seize opportunities. Think of an 18-foot ski boat and an aircraft carrier. Which would you rather be on when it’s time to quickly change course?

See:  Alternative, Traditional SME Finance Spheres See Growth

There is increasing awareness of the need to build digital competitiveness. Digital transformation is the top strategic priority for 50 per cent of CEOs and investing in new technologies to enable digitization is the top investment priority over the next two years, according to a 2016 survey by Forbes Insights and Hitachi.

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