Canadian businesses slow to seize digital tools

Google Canada boss says digital leaders outperform competitors in every industry.

June 3, 2015   by CANADIAN PRESS

Sam Sebastian, an American transplant leading Google Canada says Canadian businesses are moving ``bad slow'' in adopting digital technology. Photo: Google

Sam Sebastian, an American transplant leading Google Canada says Canadian businesses are moving “bad slow” in adopting digital technology.
Photo: Google

VANCOUVER — An American transplant leading Google Canada says Canadian businesses are moving “bad slow” in adopting digital technology.

Managing director Sam Sebastian says only half of small and medium businesses in Canada have their own website, while fewer than one in three use cloud computing.

“Does not compute. I don’t get that. We have to fix that,” he said in a keynote speech to the Vancouver Board of Trade.

Sebastian, who spent eight years with Google in Chicago, told the group there’s resistance to change north of the border.

He urged Canadians to embrace virtual office infrastructure that has diminished substantially in cost over the last 20 years to about $5,000 for a startup from $5 million on average.

Digital leaders outperform their competitors in every industry, he said.

“They have higher revenues, productivity, better market valuations. They just do better,” he said. “Canadian businesses need to be embracing these tools.”

He noted a divide between Canadians using the Internet for their own interests versus for business, giving the example of how the general public employs YouTube, which Google owns.

Every month, Canadians upload more content to the online video-sharing portal than all of the country’s major national television networks and broadcasters did over the last 10 years combined.

Canadians are the third-largest exporter of content on YouTube in the world, he said. Some 90 per cent of views of Canadian content are coming from outside our borders.

“But this is something that Canadian businesses are only barely beginning to take advantage of.”

Despite the snail’s pace Sebastian has encountered in the year he’s lived in Canada, he’s observed strong relationships, empathy, openness and tolerance for new ideas, he said.

“That is the hard part. The technology just makes all this go a lot faster and a lot smoother.

“In many ways I think Canada is the fastest team on the ice. We’ve just got to harness those skills.”

© 2015 The Canadian Press

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3 Comments » for Canadian businesses slow to seize digital tools
  1. John R says:

    Cloud computing sucks – no privacy, hidden costs, and your data is in the hands of you don’t know who! “Smart” devices are a joke – more like overblown dummy terminals in your pocket!
    I’ll stick to my local LAN and will continue to urge others to do the same! It worked yesterday, it works today, and it will work tomorrow!
    Last question with the same twist: What u going to do when ur wifi, cell tower, etc is down?

  2. Greg S says:

    Clearly this guy is not familiar with Canadian privacy laws.
    It is actually illegal in most cases to type your clients personal information into a Google based cloud service. It is illegal to export your clients information from the province, which is technically what you are doing as soon as you give it to Google.

    Google is a US based company that has to follow US based laws and those government organizations that enforce those laws such as the FBI, CIA, NSA, IRS and more. Any of of these can request information from Google (by legal means), regardless of where Google tells you it is.

    And also remember, Google is an advertising company first. The search stuff is just a means to generate ad revenue.

  3. John Doak says:

    Wait until a major sunspot wipes out telecom for a few days, weeks or months, (not to mention power grids around the world) and let’s see how well our websites work, and cloud computing? Let’s hope there’s a big back-up generator in the sky!
    A blanket, bad-English jingoistic statement that fellow Canadians are ‘bad-slow’ to adopt digital, may be a reflection of our national reputation for caution in adopting new things, (i.e. ‘tech’), not just a xenophobic ‘slowness’ of things foreign. We, and many I know, are not averse to change.
    Our little firm has been “in the cloud” for years; we were first in our local industry with a website of products and services(1998).

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