Digital EconomyDigital Transformation

TECHNATION urges bold public sector policy to fuel economic growth and drive digital economy

Angela Mondou interviews Kevin Peesker to explore how Canada can address it's declining innovation standing and prosper after Covid-19.

In their September press release industry body Technation captures the zeitgeist defining the stark challenge facing Canada’s digital economy right now.

Canada’s digital economy generates over 1 million jobs, contributes over $120 billion annually to GDP, invests $7.5 billion annually in R&D, and has taken over as the biggest sector driving Canadian economic growth.

Innovation Laggard

In the first of their ‘Back on Track’ series of videos, from 3m:30s Angela Mondou, CEO of Technation, and Kevin Peesker, President of Microsoft Canada, explore the most fundamental of challenges the Canadian economy faces.

Canada ranks 22nd on the 2020 Bloomberg Innovation Index and 21st on the World Economic Forums ranking of technology adopters.

It’s a puzzling challenge for Canada. Peesker summarizes the massive ecosystem Canada boasts in terms of technology innovation, from the universities through the many startup clusters. However, quite simply, Canada’s competitors are doing more to adopt technology to drive competitiveness. For example Canada ranks 3rd for creating AI but 9th for adopting it.

Recovering from Covid

From 7m:40s Angela zooms in on the specific gap of SMEs not scaling up as fast as they might, a challenge she believes can be addressed through the government enabling more agile procurement. Technation has presented its Innovation Adoption Program (IAP), which addresses this challenge, to Ministers of the Crown and opposition parties over the past few months, and they explain the program in detail in this Globe and Mail opinion piece.

Kevin responds by identifying digital skills as the most fundamental advance needed to achieve this, highlighting a report stating 85% of Canadian CEOs are placing more technology capital investments, versus 67% at a global level, however when it comes to skills development, while 33% of global CEOs are investing into tomorrow’s workforce skills, in Canada this is only 16%.

Microsoft is setting out to address this gap through:

  1. Providing young people and future leaders with the skills they’ll need.
  2. Upskilling those currently in the workforce.
  3. Reskilling job seekers.

Top Trends

From 11m:05s Angela asks what the biggest tech trends and opportunities are Kevin foresees for the next 12-18 months for Canada, that would achieve the most impact on these challenges.

Kevin answers that through his experiences of interacting with the nation’s top executive leaders these are adopting Cloud computing, the second is Data, harnessing the platform the Cloud provides to make use of powerful tools like AI and Data Analytics, and third the major trend he sees is ‘The Virtualization of Everything’, such as greatly improving and modernizing Canada’s Healthcare industry.

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