BDC-sponsored survey shows SMEs are well connected but not taking full advantage of the Internet and ICT

Highlights

  • Most Canadian SMEs (92.8%) are now connected to the Internet. 
  • Few companies use management software packages. One quarter of the companies surveyed have computerized their processes by using an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software package (24.9%) or a customer relationship management (CRM) system (23.9%). Only 12% of these companies have a supply chain management (SCM) software package.
  • Two thirds (69.8%) of SMEs have websites, but only 8.2% have adapted them for use on mobile platforms. Selling online is not very popular with SMEs - only 17.9% of those with websites engage in it. 
  • SMEs connected to the Internet have not yet been won over by social network applications, as only 15.2% incorporate them into their marketing strategies, 14.3% apply them internally with their employees, and 17.5% use them with partners and suppliers.
  • The size of the business and the activity sector influence the adoption of ICT. ICT is better rooted in medium-sized SMEs, i.e. those with 100 to 499 employees, and in SMEs in the manufacturing sector.

MONTREAL, Nov. 16, 2011 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadian SMEs are well connected to the Internet, but are not taking full advantage of the Web and information and communications technologies (ICT) to increase their productivity and their revenues. These are the main conclusions of a recent national survey conducted by CEFRIO and sponsored by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). The key highlights of the survey, which aimed to evaluate SME's use of ICT in their business practices, were presented today during a panel discussion hosted by Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D).

"The impact of ICT on SME productivity, innovation and competitiveness is now recognized as very real," said Michel Bergeron, BDC Vice President, Corporate Relations. "In fact, Canada's productivity gap is largely explained by the lower level of ICT investment.  According to a 2011 Institute for Competitiveness & Prosperity report, our businesses invest $2,400 less per employee, per year, in computers, software and training than do American companies.  In a globalized economy, where competition is getting more intense all the time, we need to see an increased ICT investment by Canadian SMEs. This is why BDC recently launched financing solutions as well as online web and technology assessment tools to help companies better integrate ICT in their daily operations."

The survey shows that 92.8% of Canadian SMEs are connected to the Internet. More than 59.3% have mobile devices such as smart phones or digital tablets, while 40.1% have none.

In the past twelve months most SMEs (88.3%) have made investments in ICT. Purchases of computer equipment (77.8%) and licenses (40.5%) are the most frequent investments.

Little use of management software packages
Few companies use management software packages. One quarter of the companies surveyed have computerized their processes by using an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software package (24.9%) or a customer relationship management (CRM) system (23.9%). Only 12% of these companies have a supply chain management (SCM) software package.

The survey showed that ICT is clearly better rooted in medium-sized companies (100 to 499 employees) and, to a large extent, in manufacturing companies. These companies have the highest Internet connection rate (97.6%) and make the most use of office suites (92.3%), ERP management software packages (34.4%) and websites as Internet tools (78.2%). SMEs in the manufacturing sector also use Open Source software the most (36.3%), as well as collaborative tools such as email (95.2%), project management tools (36.5%) or shared editing tools (40%).

"SMEs that succeed best and conquer new markets are often on the cutting edge of technology," said Michel Bergeron, BDC Vice President, Corporate Relations. "Some management software can be used as powerful tools for business growth. The costs of these products having decreased, it becomes very advantageous to acquire them.  In a context where companies must always do more with less, more SMEs should consider adopting such tools."

SMEs slow to take advantage of selling online
In 2011, 70.9% of SMEs connected to the Internet made online purchases. However, selling online is a much less popular activity as only 17.9% of SMEs owning a website engage in it. Despite the major development of Web 2.0, SMEs have not yet been won over by social network applications, as only 15.2% incorporate them into their marketing strategies, 14.3% apply them internally with their employees, and 17.5% use them with partners and suppliers. Those that engage in these activities use Facebook (60.9%) and the LinkedIn network (32.9%) more often.

"Considering how the Internet and Web 2.0 can contribute to increasing a company's revenue and profitability, SME executives have every interest in further exploring the opportunities these platforms offer their companies. If they do not take action in this field, they risk losing out on a major potential for growth and innovation," Michel Bergeron concluded.

BDC recently announced it had earmarked $200 million for loans to help entrepreneurs invest in ICT. BDC also made available at www.bdc.ca a new array of online tools specifically designed to meet small business needs, and, more specifically, to boost their productivity and accelerate their growth.

Download a copy of the survey report

Methodology
Slightly more than 2,000 leaders of Canadian SME were questioned (company executives, owners or managers, or the people in charge of administration, ICT, communications or marketing, as applicable). The SOM research and survey firm conducted telephone interviews from April 11 to May 24 2011. Surveyed SMEs had between 5 and 499 employees and were randomly selected from the Dun & Bradstreet database. The survey response rate was 27.7%. The margin of error for the overall sample was ±3.4%. This is the maximum margin of error for an evaluated proportion of the total sample.

About the survey
The 2011 NetPME survey is the fourth edition. Conducted exclusively in Quebec in the past, it was expanded this year to cover the entire country, due to the financial support of Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). The survey was also made possible by the financial support of the Ministère du Développement économique, de l'Innovation et de l'Exportation, the Secrétariat du Conseil du trésor du Québec, Desjardins Card Services, Services Québec and TELUS.

About CEFRIO
CEFRIO is the centre for research on innovation for organizations through the use of information and communications technology (ICT). It has over 150 members from government, industry and the academic sector, as well as 60 guest and associate researchers working in social and organizational innovation. CEFRIO's own activities generate 64% of its funding, with the remaining 36% provided by its primary financial partner, the Ministère du Développement économique, de l'Innovation et de l'Exportation.

About BDC
Canada's business development bank, BDC, puts entrepreneurs first. With almost 1,900 employees and more than 100 business centres across the country, BDC offers financing, subordinate financing, venture capital and consulting services to 29,000 small and medium-sized companies. Their success is vital to Canada's economic prosperity.

SOURCE BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT BANK OF CANADA

For further information:

Maria Constantinescu
Advisor, Media Relations
BDC
514-496-1876
maria.constantinescu@bdc.ca

Claire Bourget
Director of Marketing Research
CEFRIO
(514) 808-6149
claire.bourget@cefrio.qc.ca

Profil de l'entreprise

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT BANK OF CANADA

Renseignements sur cet organisme

CENTRE FRANCOPHONE D'INFORMATISATION DES ORGANISATIONS (CEFRIO)

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