By: David Coletto
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The pandemic was deeply disruptive for small and medium-sized businesses across Canada. More than half had to shut down their workplace and many had to adapt to a remote workforce. According to our recent survey conducted for Shaw Business – a leading telecommunications provider to businesses in Canada – owners and leaders of small and medium-sized businesses believe that connected technology played and will continue to play a vital role in their business success.
SMEs in Canada have had to shift course during the pandemic. They needed to adapt to new internal team dynamics – especially with remote work becoming the norm – and to new ways of connecting with their customers.
Almost half (45%) of SME business owners/executives told us they implemented new connected technology tools during the pandemic. The implementation of new connected technology tools was more frequent among larger SMEs (56% for those with 20 or more employees) and was more likely to be embraced by younger business owners/executives.
While some businesses were able to avoid adding new tools because they were already in place, 22% of businesses did implement new technology and expect to update their investment again within the next 12 months. Only one-third of businesses did not implement new tools.
SMEs told us that the technology they used over the last 19 months is critical to their success going forward. This is particularly true for retail & hospitality (88%) as well as manufacturing, construction, and resource industries (85%). Business leaders who are younger, 18 to 34 years, are more likely to agree that their investments in new connected technology tools were positive.
Businesses that have implemented new connected technology tools are even more positive about the results of their investment. In fact, 91% of those that implemented new tools say that the technology they have used over the past 17 months will be critical to their success going forward.
In fact, SMEs clearly embrace the role that technology is playing in their business both in terms of getting through the pandemic but also for their future success.
When it comes to getting through the pandemic, 72% agree that being connected and using technology has helped their business adapt to the pandemic. Larger (more than 10 employees) and younger business owners/executives (under 30 years of age) are particularly likely to agree.
But the future is equally important: 73% agree that being connected and using technology is critical for success moving forward. Again, we find that younger owners/executives are more likely to see technology as critical to success. The retail and hospitality sectors are the most likely to embrace technology.
The backbone to connected technology tools is the internet, and SMEs in Canada clearly place a premium on a fast and reliable internet connection. Three-quarters of owners/executives of SMEs say a fast and reliable internet connection is fundamental to the success of their business. Those owners/executives in the retail/hospitality sector are the most likely to view their internet connection as fundamental to their success.
SMEs have, partly out of necessity, had to adapt their business to the realities of the pandemic that has stretched out over 18 months and counting. Many have invested in new connected technology tools to address the changing needs of their employees and customers. Those that did invest in connected technology feel it made their businesses stronger and more competitive.
While the pandemic forced businesses to react and some to accelerate plans to digitize their business, others changed direction completely, recognizing how connected technology could help them manage through the pandemic but also refocus their business, improve productivity, and better serve their customers. These shifts in business practices will only intensify further as a younger generation of business leaders start new businesses, transition into leadership roles, and embrace connected technology in all aspects of their businesses.
The survey was conducted with 500 SME Canadian business owners/execs from September 2nd to 6th, 2021. A random sample of panelists was invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are typically double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.
The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 4.38%, 19 times out of 20.
The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s SME population. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.
The survey was paid for by Shaw Business.
Abacus Data follows the CRIC Public Opinion Research Standards and Disclosure Requirements that can be found here: https://canadianresearchinsightscouncil.ca/standards/
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