Canadian entrepreneurs have a new tool to help build and grow their small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) using digital technology.
Announced in the summer, the Digital Adoption Compass (DAC) was recently launched online by various partners: CIO Association of Canada, Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and IT World Canada. It’s an Internet portal full of resources (more on that in a moment) to help SMBs acquire and use digital technologies.
The site was created after a study released earlier this year concluded that “Canadian enterprises, and especially (SMBs), have not embraced emerging technologies to the degree necessary to fuel the economy to go full speed.”
As ICTC’s president and CEO Namir Anani told me in an interview, many SMBs want to use new technologies but aren’t sure how to go about it; many others simply aren’t aware that going digital can dramatically boost their businesses. The DAC aims to fill that knowledge gap, he said.
“(SMBs) having a better understanding of how technology relates to their business and what value that would provide to their business is very important,” Anani said.
So what’s in the DAC portal? Case studies and videos on how small businesses can save time and money by using digital tools. Vendor profiles to help SMBs acquire that technology. Links to government programs that help SMBs find IT-related financing and talent.
There’s more to come, Anani said. An interactive map called eTalent Canada will be added in February to help SMBs locate skilled labour and post-secondary programs to support their businesses. Another section called Community of Practice will hit the site in May. It’ll be a forum where SMBs can tap into academic research about digital technologies and share best practice tips with each other on using those tools for business.
What’s not in the DAC portal, however, has got me wondering about a few things.
You won’t find any links to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), a major SMB organization and lobby group with 109,000 members. (For the sake of disclosure, Allstream is the exclusive provider partner of long distance and Internet services to CFIB members.)
I asked Anani why the CFIB is not involved with the DAC. He pointed out that CATA and Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) are involved in the project, saying both organizations represent and assist SMBs on many levels. That’s certainly true. But the DAC targets SMBs from every industry sector and its goal is to help them adopt new digital technologies. CATA mainly serves the tech sector; BDC’s mandate is to assist with financing. Wouldn’t some connection with a group like CFIB widen awareness of the DAC portal among smaller businesses operating outside the technology sector?
I also wonder if many SMBs know the DAC portal is online. As of Dec. 15, a Google search of “Digital Adoption Compass” takes me to some press releases related to the DAC … but not to the actual DAC website itself. I’m sure this is just an SEO issue that will soon be improved. Yet a Google News search on the DAC site launch also comes up empty. Although a news release went out, it’s a shame it wasn’t picked up more widely.
So I’m doing my part. There’s a new technology resource for smaller businesses. Let’s get the word out in as big a way as we possibly can.