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Embracing technology in a digital age

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The use of social media and other digital tools have become increasingly important in establishing and operating a small business in recent years, with over half of all small firms now utilising social media (like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc…) on a routine basis.

Digital technology from your point of view

To learn more about how you are coping in the digital age, we surveyed more than 6,300 members at the end of last year on their use of, and perspectives on, various types of digital technologies. It was designed to help guide policy makers and stakeholders on the digital challenges your business faces, and to find ways to facilitate their adoption.

Here are some of the highlights of the survey:

  • Since 2009, use of Facebook has doubled from 22 to 54% while use of Linked In has grown from 6% to 32% and Twitter from 3% to 22%.
  • Facebook is used more by consumer-facing businesses while LinkedIn is preferred by businesses that primarily deal with other businesses
  • Younger firms are much more likely to  use social media than more established ones, with 72 per cent of those  that have been in business for less than five years using social media versus 48 per cent of those who have been in business for more than 10 years
  • There was a greater tendency for businesses in sectors that have a consumer-facing focus to have an online store and update their websites more regularly.

Key finding:

We found that the biggest challenge in adopting new digital  technologies is that they are too time-consuming. They require constant updating and management, so larger firms tend to use them more than smaller ones as they have the resources to manage the tools properly. On top of this,   about a third of our members found them too costly to adopt.

Recommendations:

  1. Make it easier to adopt digital technologies by encouraging the development of simple, cost effective, “off-the-shelf” digital tools for small businesses: CFIB already offers its members such services for web development (Bark Builder) and email marketing (CyberIpmpact) at discounted prices.
  2. Introduce a “Digital Technology Deduction”: Allow claims up to $100,000 per year spent on new equipment or technology, in the year of purchase.
  3. Reintroduce a 100 per cent Capital Cost Allowance (CCA) rate for technology purchases: This would spur new investments in new digital technologies and help drive innovation;
  4. Improve competitive options for high speed/wireless services: Require incumbents to provide competitors with wholesale access to Ethernet lines at fair prices, or allow foreign providers to access rural markets.
  5. Create an “innovations lens”: When implementing new regulations, policies and taxes, ensure these do not negatively impact a firm’s ability to innovate or adopt new technologies.
  6. Consider creating a website of digital tools to enhance digital literacy: Government could take the lead on creating a website that contains a database of tech guides and tools to develop digital skills that would help SMEs deal with daunting technology tasks quickly and easily.