Productivity into profits: A guide to digital technology adoption for SME productivity leaders

To compete with foreign companies that produce goods at lower labour costs, Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) need to improve their productivity. They can do this by cutting the input costs (time, material and labour) of the products and services they sell. The fastest, most effective approach to competing successfully in this area is to adopt digital technology. The general Canadian population is well ahead of other countries in adopting digital technology in their personal lives. However, Canadian SMEs lag behind in adopting it for their businesses. And that is one of the primary contributors to Canada’s productivity problem. SME management must take a leading role in accelerating digital technology adoption toward increasing enterprise productivity and profitability—and government must support them for the national benefit (Goss Gilroy Inc., 2013). The National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) and Digital Technology Adoption Pilot Program (DTAPP) deliver on-the-ground support to Canadian SMEs exploring or embarking on this journey. This white paper explains how to capitalize on digital technology by following a seven-step process: