The Adoption of Digital Technology by Canadian Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises



digital technology

Research Summary: “The Adoption of Digital Technology by Canadian Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises” By Mark Buell, Canadian Internet Registration Authority (2014)

At Issue: Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Canada have been slow to incorporate internet technologies into their businesses. Canadian SMEs, by adopting even basic internet technologies, can better meet the needs of domestic consumers, access the global marketplace, and position themselves as candidates for foreign investment.

What are Canadians Doing Online?

Research Objective(s): The study’s objectives were to (1) characterize the nature and make-up of Canadian SMEs and (2) gauge the extent to which Canadian SMEs that are already online are utilizing the internet for their businesses.

Scope: The study encompassed Canadian small- and medium-sized businesses. Small businesses comprise more than 98 percent of Canadian employers, and medium-sized businesses account for 1.6 per cent. More than 90 percent of employees in Canada, about 10 million people, work for a small- or medium-sized business.

Approach: The Canadian Internet Registration Authority worked with the Strategic Counsel to conduct a national survey in 2013.

Findings: While 87 percent of Canadian households are connected to the internet, only 45.5 percent of Canadian businesses have a website. Of Canadian small businesses, only 41.1 percent of have an online presence, while more than 91 percent of large businesses in Canada are online. The vast majority of Canada’s SMEs, 89 percent, do not sell their products or services online. Of Canadian SME owners who have incorporated the internet into their businesses, 21 percent spend more than thirty hours per month online. By comparison, 26 percent of “recreational” internet users in Canada spend at least 30 hours per month online. The primary online activities for SME owners are email (89 percent), banking (79 percent), and product research (73 percent). Notably, online shopping is not cited as a primary activity by any internet user group.

Notes: The full results of this study can be accessed at Visit the Canadian Internet Registration Authority at

Researcher Profile: Allie Grace Garnett is a professional researcher and freelance writer with a background in finance and entrepreneurship. A serial entrepreneur who has established numerous businesses, Ms. Garnett previously was a founding Principal of Nexos Resource Partners (NRP), an energy project finance firm in New York. Prior to co-founding NRP, Ms. Garnett provided financial advisory and fund raising services to institutional-scale energy funds with Sustainable Development Capital. Ms. Garnett served as the Vice President of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships for the start-up Rentricity, and additionally founded a nonprofit organization (YAVA) that encourages volunteerism among college students. Ms. Garnett holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree from Northeastern University.


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