Report: Canadian businesses on the verge of massive wave of digital transformation

Calgary, Alberta, CANADA

The start of an overdue shift for Canadian businesses to improve competitiveness:

  • Nine in ten are experiencing or anticipate a business transformation in the next 12 months.
  • Eight in ten have at least one technology advancement that is currently underway.
  • Three quarters have used a technology support provider to help manage their transformation. 
  • Nearly four in ten are making digital enhancements to products and services or are currently involved in some platform integration efforts.

CALGARY, Alberta, Feb. 21, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- According to a new report by MNP, titled “Capturing the Change Wave: How Canadian Businesses are Transforming,” a massive wave of transformation is on the verge of hitting nearly all Canadian businesses and industries, with digital transformation sitting atop the strategic agenda.  Nine in ten (86%) Canadian businesses are experiencing or anticipate a business transformation in the next 12 months. Almost as many (83%) say that at least one technology advancement is currently underway at their organization, with the majority planning to increase investment in a range of technology innovations over the next 12 months.

“Canadian businesses have long been criticized for being digital laggards. Our results indicate the start of an important shift but there needs to be a real sense of urgency. In terms of technological readiness and digital competitiveness, Canada is languishing behind,” says Trent Bester, Senior Vice President, Consulting at MNP.  

The national report — based on a survey of 1200 Canadian business leaders in multiple industries — highlights that now more than ever, every industry and company faces the pressure to transform in order to survive. The digital revolution and the ongoing technological advancements it brings was cited as the biggest external force driving the transformation, with a majority of Canadian businesses indicating that whole business functions and even the very nature of their businesses are currently evolving.

“Being able to adapt in a world where technological breakthroughs are happening at an unprecedented pace is critical to success for Canadian businesses. Technologies are increasing efficiency, cutting costs and improving competitiveness for companies willing and ready to adopt them,” says Bester. 

But many are struggling to keep up. In fact, over ninety per cent (93%) of businesses surveyed report that they face some form of barrier that inhibits their ability to transform as needed. Canadian business decision-makers see many challenges with budgets (42%), time and staff (32%) and skills/expertise (27%).

As an example, Bester points to the fact that only a third of Canadian businesses (32%) report that they are making technology-driven changes to workforce and workplace models. This includes leveraging existing technologies like online skills marketplaces like Upwork and the use of productivity tools like Skype and go-to-meeting.  

Moreover, despite the fact that data strategies within organizations are fast becoming a key competitive differentiator, the survey found that only three in ten (28%) Canadian businesses are currently using data analytics and business intelligence technology to further their business goals.  

“When it comes to data there will be a growing divide between the haves and the have-nots. The haves will have a clear competitive advantage. It’s imperative for Canadian businesses to leverage these technologies so they can compete. The problem is that many organizations do not have the technical skills, processes or the capacity necessary,” says Scott Greenlay, National Director, Technology Solutions at MNP.   

The survey revealed that over ninety (94%) per cent of companies who are currently undertaking some form of transformation used external services to anticipate or react to the forces of change. Three-quarters of all Canadian businesses have relied on a technology support provider to help manage their transformation.  Nearly the same number (74%) have reached out externally for data collection and analysis.

“Reacting in fear or frustration — or not reacting at all — is sometimes how companies deal with change. A more successful way is to find external expertise, be innovative with the products and services you are offering, leveraging the technology tools we have today and, in some cases, anticipate the technology of tomorrow,” says Greenlay. 

More advanced digital technologies like blockchain are emerging as a business focus for some. More than a quarter (27%) of Canadian business decision makers indicate that they are currently in the process of advancing their digital trust technologies. Of this group, almost half (46%) have considered blockchain technology as a security solution. Still, one in five says they do not know what it is. 

“Some are anticipating that blockchain will become a mature technology so they are ready to make the investment now. They’ve seen what happens when you are late to the dance with a technology innovation,” adds Greenlay.

While Artificial Intelligence is already embedded in one form or another in many mainstream technology solutions, it has not yet caught the focus of Canada’s business decision-makers. Notably, only 16 per cent of Canadian businesses report a current level of activity in the development.

Topping the list of digital transformation initiatives currently underway among Canadian businesses is the trend towards platform integration.  Nearly four in ten (38%) report they are currently involved in some platform integration efforts — particularly cloud-based services (68%). Digital enhancements to products and services, such as the development of new apps or cloud delivery are a close second, with 36 per cent of businesses working on this area.

About the Report

Capturing the Change Wave: How Canadian Businesses are Transforming outlines the key findings from a quantitative online survey of 1200 Canadian business decision-makers conducted on behalf of MNP by Ipsos. The sample was divided between smaller businesses and including a minimum sample of 125 in each of the following industries: Energy & Natural Resources, Real Estate & Construction, Manufacturing & Trade, Financial & Professional Services, Health, Education & NGOs.  To read the full report, visit


MNP is one of the largest national accounting and consulting firms in Canada, providing client-focused accounting, taxation and consulting advice. National in scope and local in focus, MNP has proudly served individuals and public and private companies for 60 years. Through the development of strong relationships, MNP provides personalized strategies and a local perspective to help them succeed. For more information, visit


Angela Joyce, Media Relations
p. 1.403.681.9286

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