This text is part of the Business Transformation section
“If we look at the rate at which Quebec companies are adopting advanced technologies compared to the rest of Canada, Quebec is certainly not behind. There will also be a small advantage in Quebec, which is even more evident when you consider the adoption of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, for example,” emphasizes Benoit Dosti, full professor in the Department of Applied Economics at HEC Montreal.
Good thing when we know that according to the OECD, artificial intelligence, like mobility, cloud computingThe Internet of Things and big data analysis are “among the most important tools for digital transformation.”
According to a Léger survey published last February and carried out on behalf of TALSOM among executives and corporate directors in several provinces, 84.3% of Quebec companies consider themselves to be putting themselves at risk if they do not accelerate their transformation. And 94% believe digital transformation is an important component of their business. Finally, 66% consider it important and urgent. “Obviously, the message got through, and people know it’s not just important, it’s a practical requirement. So the issue is: where do we start?” Analyzes Pascal Monet, CEO of the Association for the Advancement of Research and Innovation in Quebec (ADRIQ).
Because if large companies are generally well-equipped and can rely on the means and personnel needed to implement digital transformation, the task may be more difficult for smaller structures. “In SMEs, it is often the head of the company who has to really take care of production, staffing, talking to the banker, setting up fairs and exhibitions, etc., and there, that same person is being asked to transform and digitize their business?” ADRIQ CEO says It’s a little complicated.”
The Trans Num program developed by ADRIQ was launched last February and is specifically aimed at supporting these business leaders. The idea? Provide a hundred hours of support to a company to help them create and put their digital transformation plan into action.
“Since we launched Trans Num, we have seen that there is demand. This type of support caters to a particular need of companies that already have a certain level of technological and digital maturity as well as strategic thinking. We cannot work with a company that does not know exactly where it is heading,” sums up Pascal Monet , for his quarter-funded program that was aided by the company and three-quarters of government funding.
In fact, both federal and provincial governments have made digital transformation a key goal, particularly in the context of the post-pandemic economic recovery. As part of a digital transformation drive unveiled last March, Quebec plans to invest $130 million by March 31, 2022 in projects aimed at accelerating corporate digital transformation and promoting the growth of innovative SMEs through specialized support. On the federal side, a $1.4 billion envelope was allocated last July for the Canadian Digital Adoption Program. Among other investments, the latter plans to provide Canadian SMEs with grants to access advisory services.
The critical issue of digital skills
According to Léger’s survey, the main obstacles that companies say they face in order to implement their transformation have more to do with alignment with the business model, difficulty setting key performance indicators or a lack of internal skills and employee motivation.
“Developing digital skills is a rather important issue for many organizations at the moment. We started a research project with the Blue Cross on this topic. They realized that it is a good idea to deploy all the technologies, if people are not ready to receive it, it will not work in the end,” as Simon Bordeaux, professor in the Department of Analytics, Operations, and Information Technology at UQAM and researcher at the Interuniversity Center for Research and Organization Analysis, explains.
The researcher concludes, “We start with technology, but in the end, if we want digital transformation to succeed, the key is people.”
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