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Emerging technology and innovation

Next-generation digital and the reality of disruption

Digital IQ 2017—Canadian insights


of Canadian and global executives see outdated technologies as barriers to getting results from digital initiatives


of Canadian executives see lack of integration of new and existing technologies as emerging and existing barriers to their digital initiatives


of Canadian and global executives say their culture embraces rapid change and disruption

Sizing up disruption

It’s important to get ahead of disruption, but according to our 20th CEO Survey, Canadian organizations don’t see disruption being as big a threat to growth as their global peers. In Digital IQ, Canadian and global organizations are aligned, with 69% embracing rapid change and disruption.

Despite the reality of disruption, a majority of Canadian respondents see outdated technology and integrating new data and solutions as the biggest current and emerging barriers to getting expected results from digital technology initiatives. Although Canadian organizations are significantly less likely than their global peers to see integration as a current problem, nearly half foresee it being a challenge in the future. Find a better way to break through barriers by committing to change and investing in creating a culture of technology innovation.

Exploring digital innovation

Q: Functions most engaged in emerging technology exploration and innovation.

 IT 92% (93% globally) Operations 49% (61% globally) Strategy 29% (44% globally) Product development 43% (27% globally)
Canadian stat: 54%
of Canadian vs. 43% of global organizations have a dedicated team for digital innovation

Innovate boldly to uncover opportunity

In our CEO Survey, only 10% of Canadian CEOs said they want to strengthen innovation in order to capitalize on new opportunities. That’s less than half as likely as their global counterparts. This reluctance about new ideas continues in Digital IQ, with Canadian organizations tending to follow the herd rather than branch out into new areas. Despite the fact that more than half of Canadian organizations have dedicated teams for innovation, 47% consider new technologies by looking at already-available tools rather than by proactively exploring new innovations with specific business needs in mind.

While Canadians say they’re doing a lot with digital, they’re often hesitant to move ahead boldly in terms of innovation. In addition, Canadian firms rely heavily on industry analysts (82% vs. 78%) and competitive intelligence (76% vs. 69%) instead of taking innovation into their own hands by engaging with open-source (8% vs. 17%) or maker (4% vs. 11%) communities. Even with great uncertainty around change, ideas that challenge convention often never come to fruition—or come too late. Bring game-changing ideas to market that are built for tomorrow’s customer.

Emerging technology investment trends

Tech making substantial investments

   Tech making substantial investments: Today IoT 92 AI 45 Robotics 10 3D printing 10 Augmented reality 4 Drones 2 Blockchain 1 VR 0  Tech making substantial investments: In 3 years IoT 47 AI 51 Robotics 42 3D printing 16 Augmented reality 25 Drones 18 Blockchain 12 VR 12
Canadian stat: 52%
of Canadian vs. 47% of global executives say Internet of Things will be most important to cutting costs, followed by robotics at 15% (18% globally)
Canadian stat: 28%
of Canadian vs. 30% of global executives say artificial intelligence will be most disruptive to their industries

Making emerging technology a priority

Are you ready for the next wave of emerging technologies? It includes the “essential eight”: Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, 3D printing, augmented reality (AR), drones, blockchain and virtual reality. While these emerging tools hold promise, they must compete for attention with today’s game changers, such as cloud, mobile and analytics.


As it stands, the most meaningful investments in emerging technology today are flowing to IoT and AI. Over the next three years, growth is expected across a broader spectrum of technologies, with robotics, AR and drone technologies poised for the greatest near-term growth. As far as disruption goes, 28% of Canadian executives say AI will shake up their industries and businesses over the next five years. And IoT (52%) and robotics (15%) are seen as holding the most potential to cut costs.


Business considerations

Make better, faster decisions: In today’s fast-paced business environment, the time to make decisions has shortened. Companies need to make changes to projects and get products to market faster than ever before. Harnessing the power of analytics, AI and machine learning will help support the volume and frequency of decisions.


Find new sources of innovation: Instead of looking in the same places as everyone else, reach out to underused sources. This includes engaging with startups, participating in open-source development and joining the maker community.

Take ownership of innovation: Who in your organization can take ownership of emerging tech? Leadership should view it as a core competency because if it’s only viewed as a side project, it’s not likely to last long.

Crowdsource ideas: The best ideas often come from customers, employees and partners. Create an internal innovation pipeline by encouraging them to identify new opportunities.


Contact us

Nadir Hirji

Nadir Hirji

Partner, Digital Services Leader, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 416 687 8417

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