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Canadian Businesses Need Innovation

It seems as if technology improves and develops with the passing of each day. As a result, businesses need to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of the technological world. Just a decade ago, it may not have seemed imperative to have a business website. By today’s standards, not having a website means that you may as well not even be in business.

Yesterday, Josh Rubin of The Toronto Star highlighted the fact that if Canadian entrepreneurs want to stay relevant in their markets, it is important to spend more money on high-tech equipment. To close the gap in productivity with the U.S., the Business Development Bank of Canada feels that Canadians simply need to be more innovative.

BDC’s president and CEO, Jean-René Halde, feels that too many small business owners in Canada underestimate themselves. They often feel that innovation is something only for larger technology firms that can afford such forward-thinking strategies. Halde believes, however, that innovation can be as simple as taking an existing idea or product and tweaking it slightly.

One example of this is a company that added a second level to its cargo containers. This ended up doubling their productivity. Said Halde: “We’re trying to get entrepreneurs out of their comfort zone. We need to get them into the mindset of thinking of innovation…as part of their business strategy.”

The opinion that Canadian entrepreneurs need to get more innovative comes hot on the heels of the news that their American counterparts have been outproducing them as of late. According to Statistics Canada, Canada’s productivity grew by 0.5 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2010 while productivity in the U.S. grew by 0.6 per cent.

For the entire year, productivity in Canada grew by 1.4 per cent compared to the U.S. which saw a figure of 3.8 per cent. Rubin notes that this is a gap that has been steadily growing over the past 30 years. Evidently, the attitude of business owners towards competitiveness in this country needs to change.

Along with Halde, BDC vice-president Ian MacFadden feels that small Canadian companies need to invest in information and communications technology. Also known as ICT, spending towards this strategy can help to boost productivity and make small business more efficient.
Said McFadden: “To understand the value of investing in ICT, you really need a strategic approach, and a lot of small companies don’t have that approach.”

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