In today’s increasingly competitive marketplace, Canadian businesses are constantly facing an array of new challenges. Chief among them is how a company can effectively respond to rapid advancements in technology and ensure they can thrive and remain relevant into the future.

“Technology-driven innovation is a key issue for Canadian corporations,” says Scott Greenlay, National Director of Technology Solutions at MNP, a leading national accounting, tax, and business consulting firm in Canada. “Technology is a disruptive force. In the past, it tended to impact us slowly. Now, however, technology is bringing in new competitors at a high speed. Society is so engaged with technology that we’re communicating and learning about new products and services at an incredible speed. To succeed, companies need to transform quickly to meet these changes.”

Greenlay has good reason to emphasize the demands technology advances play in precipitating business transformations. In a 2017 survey of 1,200 corporate leaders entitled CAPTURING THE CHANGE WAVE: How Canadian Businesses are Transforming, MNP found that 83 percent of Canadian companies are currently experiencing technological-based change. The report goes on to state that “successful companies are those that embrace change and are focused on making ongoing improvement part of their DNA.”

Technology’s overarching influence

Greenlay underscores that evolving technology isn’t just a challenge in and of itself. It also influences two areas vital to corporate prosperity: skilled staffing and an appropriate business model. “The ability to access skills and talent in areas of technology and disruption are at an all-time low. Additionally, business models used to be very stable, but what we’re seeing with technology-driven innovation are incredible rates of change on how business models work.”

While companies are aware they must evolve to survive, many are not sure what steps to take for a triumphant transformation. “Technology has really changed the game, and it offers both an opportunity and a threat to Canadian business,” says Greenlay. “Knowing you need to change isn’t enough. You must also be effective at making changes and many organizations just don’t have the experience to know how to go about it. They are uncertain about developing the right strategy.”

Steps to successful transformation

Although Greenlay acknowledges that cost and time can be an issue, having skilled people and a solid vision can go far to ensuring an effective corporate evolution.

“It’s vital to have the right team with the right experience because with those two elements in place, many barriers can be overcome. For example, cost can be balanced against returns and investment decisions. Staffing challenges can be addressed through recruiting expertly skilled people or partnering with firms with experience in technology and innovation,” explains Greenlay. When it comes to adopting new technology and innovation, executives need to be fully committed to the transformation. “If they don’t know how to approach the process or have the expertise in-house, they must be willing to reach out to those who do,” notes Greenlay. “It’s important to look beyond quick and easy, as success is about investing in innovations and changes that will work for the business in the long run.”