Almost nine out of 10 Canadian businesses admit they aren’t fully utilizing digital technology and their own lack of knowledge may be partly to blame, a new Microsoft Canada survey reveals.

Although half (49 per cent) of the 700 C-level executives surveyed believe technology helps their business stay competitive, 85 per cent said they’re not fully utilizing the technology. When asked why, 70 per cent blamed cost, 56 per cent named integration issues and 28 per cent cited security concerns.

Other parts of the survey revealed another potential reason Canadian companies haven’t fully adopted digital technologies: a lack of awareness or understanding about them among the executives themselves.

For example, the survey released Wednesday states that “many C-suite executives fail to understand the importance of the cloud, with 62 per cent giving it an importance rating of five out of 10 or lower.”


About half of Canadian businesses feel “intimidated” by the cloud, according to this Microsoft Canada survey graphic.

While the number of businesses considering or implementing cloud hit 52 per cent – up nine per cent from last year’s survey – half of the executives (49 per cent) said they still feel “intimidated by the cloud.”

When queried about the Internet of Things (IoT), nearly two-thirds (72 per cent) said it’s “a confusing concept” and more than half (53 per cent) were “completely unaware of it,” according to the report, which polled businesses across Canada ranging in size from SMB to enterprise.

Over half of surveyed Canadian executives are “completely unaware” of IoT. (Source: Microsoft Canada)

At a Toronto event held Wednesday to publicize the survey’s release, panelist John Ruffolo called the findings “both enlightening and a little depressing” for Canadian businesses.

“It’s absolutely fine to ignore (digital technology) but you will die,” warned Ruffolo, CEO of OMERS Ventures, the venture capital arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System.

He said although Canada has more startups per capita than the United States, American startups enjoy greater productivity than their Canadian counterparts just five years after launching.

“Why? It’s the embracing of technologies (by U.S. startups) to increase their efficiencies and ability to compete,” Ruffolo said.

“Most Canadian businesses are not prepared for IoT at all,” says Amber MacArthur of Konnekt Digital Engagement.

“Most Canadian businesses are not prepared for the Internet of Things at all,” added keynote speaker Amber MacArthur, president of Konnekt Digital Engagement.

While that’s partly due to the fact IoT is simply a much newer technology than something like cloud, she said many people have a hard time wrapping their heads around the idea of a world with limitless connectivity everywhere at all times.

“I think the tipping point (for IoT) is in the home first,” said MacArthur, predicting that once consumers start to see “real savings” from IoT applications on personal items like their home energy bills, wider business adoption will follow thereafter.

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