Majority of Canadian executives see outdated technology as barrier to innovation

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A recent report by PwC Canada has found that Canadian organizations and businesses need to focus on building skilled teams to adapt to — and keep up with — emerging technologies.

The Digital IQ report was produced by PwC Canada, which has been conducting Digital IQ research since 2007. The 2017 edition, which was fielded September to November 2016 and includes 100 Canadian and 2,216 global respondents, provides data about what Canadian executives think about digital culture and hiring people with the right skill set. It also looks at emerging tech investments and digital strategy.

Looking at the importance of addressing and adopting digital skills within organizations, the report found that only 46 percent of Canadian executives (versus 63 percent globally) rank the issue of a lack of properly skilled teams among the top barriers to getting results from digital technology.

“Canadians are less focused on creating a digital culture and supporting initiatives meant to promote a digitally savvy workforce,” the report reads. “With digital skills as an apparent blind spot, we may neglect to make the necessary investments to thrive. Does this leave us vulnerable to disruption?”

The report also suggests that a lack of attention to skilled employees leads to a “digital skills gap,” which can put organizations and companies at risk and make them less competitive. It found that currently, Canadian executives consider digital strategy, cybersecurity, and data analytics to be “quite or highly important” skills to a business.

But when asked if these skills are developed enough, Digital IQ found a capabilities gap. This gap was especially notable in tech architecture and design industries and evaluating emerging tech and digital strategy.

When it comes to investing in the right skills and talent internally to keep up with digital changes, the report found that one-quarter of Canadian respondents said they use external resources, even when they have skilled workers in-house because it’s “too slow” or “too difficult” to work with internal teams.

“Organizations that invest in the right skills and foster a strong digital culture will emerge as winners in the digital era.”

The report revealed that Canadians view better employee experiences, and improving talent retention and recruitment as secondary goals for digital investments, ranking them below all other business objectives. With that, the report said that integrating digital practices internally should be a priority because “organizations that invest in the right skills and foster a strong culture will emerge as winners in the digital era.”

When it comes to how Canadian organizations are embracing rapid technological change and digital disruption, the Digital IQ report highlighted eight essential technologies that Canadian organizations should consider as part of their technology uses and practices: Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, augmented reality, drones, blockchain, and virtual reality. The report also revealed that 28 percent of Canadian executives say AI will transform their industries and businesses over the next five years, while IoT (52 percent) and robotics (15 percent) hold the most potential to cut costs.

Digital IQ also revealed that 62 percent of Canadian respondents regard outdated technology as emerging and existing barriers to achieving results from digital technology initiatives. Fifty-eight percent of Canadian respondents regard integrating new data and solutions as a barrier in a similar vein.

In addition to analyzing the state of digital talent and Canadian organizations’ investments into technology, Digital IQ looked at Canadian executives’ digital strategy and how to evolve their enterprises through tech. In Canada, 8 out of 10 respondents named revenue growth as the biggest outcome from their digital investments. While Canadian execs saw digital as a more customer-facing activity, the report emphasized that this could hinder the process of fully integrating digital practices into the culture of different parts of their business.

The report suggested that adoption of digital practices and tech should account for a larger portion of the organization’s strategy that goes beyond customer-facing activities. While seven out of 10 Canadian executives in Canada already incorporate digital strategy into their corporate strategy, “they’re not as focused as they should be on the details of its implementation,” such as developing roadmaps and improving decision making.”

Overall, PwC’s Digital IQ report suggests that in order to keep up with Canada’s growing commitment to becoming a global leader in innovation, Canadian organizations and executives must gain a better understanding of what it means to be digital, commit to a strong digital strategy, ensure that they can foster a strong digital culture among employees, and constantly search for new sources of innovation.

“Organizations that invest in the right skills and foster a strong digital culture will emerge as winners in the digital era,” said Nadir Hirji, partner strategy and lead at PwC Canada’s digital services. “Training their workforces and attracting skilled talent, translates into better employee experiences and improve talent retention. Digital and technology is not a future agenda item, rather, leaders need to create a digital culture now if they want to stay ahead of the competition. It begins by setting a vision for the transformation that is meaningful and holistic.”

This article was originally published by BetaKit.

Image credit: Flickr — Christiaan Colen

Source: PwC