How Canadians Feel About Digital Transformation

According to a recent study conducted by international auditing firm, Klynveld, Peat, Marwick, and Goerdeler (KPMG), Canada has the highest internet penetration by population of any other G20 nation, but among the lowest rates of online purchases.

Is this influenced by how Canadians feel towards online shopping in general, or are businesses just missing their mark when implementing and promoting digital transformation?

What is Digital Transformation?


If you ask the average man or woman in the street their opinion of digital transformation, your question will likely be met with a blank stare. The problem is that it’s one of those industry buzzwords that means little to normal people.

It does, however, affect all of our lives whether we’re aware of the concept or not.

Digital transformations are both practical and intangible. They are, by definition, the migration of legacy data and integration of current digital processes in order to enhance business functions and customer service. The goal is to bring companies into the 21st century by using emerging technologies like machine learning, big data, and other AI-driven processes to transform the way they do business.

digital transformation image

On a broader, more subjective note, digital transformation signifies a cultural sea change from both sides of the customer service equation. It’s what drives, and is driven by, changes in consumer expectations and behavior. Such technology also informs corporate attitudes toward, and engagement with, their customer base on all levels.

Digital transformation is the natural progression from digitisation to a complete re-imagining of all business processes and how they affect service delivery.

More businesses realize the importance of successfully acquiring and implementing digital platforms, which is indicated by larger portions of annual budget allocations; 97 percent of businesses plan on increasing their technology investment. The goal is to remain competitive while providing the highest possible level of service in a targeted, more personal way.

canadian dx spending 3D chart

The forecast for digital transformation spending in 2018 was about $16 billion dollars, an increase of about 20 percent over the previous year. Startups have the advantage of utilising this technology by incorporating the cost into their budgets during the initial planning phase. Existing companies must reevaluate and retool in order to make the switch.

MNP digital transformation report

According to research, about 90% of Canadian companies are gearing up to implement some form of digital transformation, and the same percentage are increasing budgetary spending in this area. This migration is taking place in at least one of three categories, tactical, operational, or strategic, with larger companies initiating change in all three. Most business owners are looking forward to the prospect of this drastic change.

However, are such expenditures worthwhile if most workers and customers don’t understand the concept or its implications?

What’s Causing Digital Hesitancy Among Canadians?


The goal of any business is to identify a problem and offer solutions,  Consumers want personal service, convenience, and savings built-in to their overall shopping experience (For more statistics, check out The State of the Internet). It’s up to business owners to figure out how to deliver.

Currently, online shopping accounts for only nine percent of overall retail sales in the provinces. What’s more, the majority of companies surveyed, about 93% foresee problems with their digital transformation planning and implementation.

Businessman jumping over hurdle with the weightThe biggest challenges are:

  • Budgetary priorities and limitations
  • Resources, human and financial
  • Skills and training
  • Public relations and marketing

These problems are especially common among small business owners, who are less likely to have the funds available for large-scale digital migration or the time and money for staff training. Even those who do manage to allocate funding for comprehensive transformation may face problems with perception.

Common Myths About Digital Transformation


Misinformation and misunderstanding about the purpose and benefits of digital transformation doesn’t just affect consumer attitudes–companies are also struggling to cope with the process. This can be overcome by laying to rest myths about digital transformation and clearly stating what it is and is not.

  • myths vs facts vectorDigital transformation is not just an “IT problem”. It affects all facets of business function and service.
  • It’s not just for Blue Chips; former SMBs like AirBnB and Netflix grew because of their commitment to embrace and optimise technology.
  • It isn’t about reducing workforce, but making them more efficient.
  • It’s not about invading privacy, but improving service by analyzing and anticipating consumer trends
  • Successful transformation is also not an end in itself, but an ongoing evolution.

Overcoming Staff Hesitation


One of the main fears driving staff resistance is the fear of redundancy, especially among older workers. There’s a fear that adding technology means reducing staff. Retraining or updating skills is also typically met with resistance. Remember, scaling up your tech is not just a cold, mechanical process or an IT function. Successful implementation involves your whole organisation.

Don’t just spring change on your workforce at the last minute. When implementing any new procedures or technology, it’s essential to engage staff early in the process. Those who feel included are usually more about learning new skills and being a part of your business evolution. This is especially true as automation takes over routine functions and job roles shift to focus more on people skills.

Addressing Privacy and Security Concerns


privacy and security site infectedOne of the biggest hurdles businesses need to overcome is fear and hesitancy among consumers about security and online privacy.

While they like the idea of e-commerce that anticipates their needs and offers a truly personal shopping experience, many have issues with tracking mechanisms and the practice of having their data sold or shared without their knowledge or permission.

The Bottom Line


Online privacy is an issue for all of us. Companies can reassure customers by using the latest encryption and privacy mechanisms, and making sure they’re prominently displayed on their websites. Consumers can protect their online identity and habits by using virtual private networks and other security and privacy tools.

In the end, successful digital transformation requires careful planning and implementation. Communication, education, and exhaustive PR will go a long way towards informing staff and consumers alike about its benefits.