Disrupt or be disrupted

of Canadian executives say competitive intelligence is a major source of insight for their organization in applying new technology

Canadian organizations are more focused on cost savings than supporting innovation and growth. While Canadian executives place a higher level of importance on agile skills than their global counterparts (32% of respondents put it at No. 2 in terms of the most important digital skills to their organization, versus 26% globally), they aren’t quite ready to make the cultural changes necessary. Canadian executives need to look at the speed of change and new operating models to become agile at scale throughout their organizations.

Operations over agile

Because they’re focused more on improving operations than becoming more agile, Canadian businesses are at a slight disadvantage when compared to their global counterparts that are using agile methodologies for innovation to gain a competitive edge.

This puts Canadian organizations in a position where they’re more likely to be disrupted than to be the disruptors. A reason may be many Canadian companies are satellite operations of global corporations headquartered in the United States. As a result, many of their functions focus more on operations than research and development, which naturally support fostering innovation.

Agreement with statement about organizations’ digital culture and operating model

Canadian organizations are in a position where they’re more likely to be disrupted than to be the disruptors.

Be a digital leader

Unlike their global counterparts Canadian organizations are not just informed by cost savings when making digital investments but also in large part by what their peers are doing. One-quarter of those surveyed said pressure from industry peers is the top factor affecting their organization’s decisions about when to make strategic decisions. Because Canadian organizations are so tactically focused on their local markets, they’re competing against a small group of peers, rather than on a global scale.

Opportunity for AI

Canadian organizations have the opportunity to be leaders in AI and robotics. In the past, the conversation was around “if” there were disruption, then it moved to “when” and “how” to react.

Canadian organizations should already be acting on these opportunities. The Greater Toronto Area is creating a name for itself as an innovation hub for the future. Projects like Google Sidewalk Labs are setting up shop, and Amazon and Google are expanding their operations in what The Economist has dubbed “Maple Valley.” Montreal is also becoming known for emerging technology companies focused on AI. Out west, there are provincially funded initiatives like Alberta Innovates, which has a mandate to enhance the well-being of Albertans through research and innovation.

Emerging tech and innovation (Canada only)

When it comes to emerging technology and innovation, respondents said AI is about staying ahead of disruption, whereas the Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics are seen as potential cost-cutting technologies. On a global level, AI is seen as more of a focus, with 54% of executives saying it’s a priority spend, versus only 45% in Canada. Also, while 92% of Canadian executives cited IoT as a priority spend, only 73% did so globally. This indicates Canadians are more focused on mature technologies like IoT that can help them realize operational efficiencies, compared with AI that can help them become innovators on a global level.

To be a leader on the global stage, it’s essential to take AI applications to the next level. This involves introducing them more widely to organizations, instead of keeping them in limited pilot projects. Until Canadian organizations can appreciate the importance of digital experience to their success, they’ll continue to show low digital maturity relative to their global counterparts. Canadian executives need to make emerging technology a priority in their budgets, so they’re ready to innovate and compete on a global scale.

Emerging tech and innovation 

Emerging tech and innovation
Key takeaway

Innovate for the world

Canadian organizations have the opportunity to be leaders in AI and robotics. It’s time to look at the speed of change, new operating models and how to be agile at scale.

If it doesn’t make sense for one part of the business to move to an agile way of working, that’s not necessarily a problem. Canadian leaders need to determine where they can adopt agile methodologies and not be afraid to fail by embracing the “progress, not perfection” mantra. To be truly innovative, business leaders have to try things differently. But they need to have the buy-in and culture in place first which allow for that.

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Contact us

Nadir Hirji

Partner, Digital Services Leader, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 416 687 8417

Joe Ryan

Partner, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 604 806 7220

Sue Sharp

Partner, Experience Centre Lead, Eastern Canada, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 416 687 8488

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