The digital transformation train is now on

This text is part of the special section Business transformation

“If we look at the rate of adoption of advanced technologies by Quebec companies compared to that of the rest of Canada, Quebec is certainly not behind. There would even be a small Quebec advantage, even more visible when we consider the adoption of emerging technologies, such asartificial intelligence, for example, ”underlines Benoit Dostie, full professor in the Department of Applied Economics at HEC Montréal.

A good thing when we know that, according to the OECD, artificial intelligence, like mobility, cloud computing, the Internet of Things and big data analysis “are among the most important levers of digital transformation”.

Conscious companies

According to a Léger survey published last February and carried out on behalf of TALSOM among executives and managers of companies in several provinces, 84.3% of Quebec companies consider that they are putting themselves at risk if they do not accelerate their transformation. and 94% believe that digital transformation is an important element in their business. Finally, 66% consider it to be both important and urgent. “Obviously, the message got through, and people know it’s not just important, it’s practically a requirement. Therefore, the issue is rather: where to start? »Analyzes Pascal Monette, CEO of the Association for the Development of Research and Innovation of Quebec (ADRIQ).

Because if large companies are generally well equipped and can count on the means and personnel necessary to implement their digital transformation, the task can be more difficult for smaller structures. “In SMEs, it is very often the head of the company who must already take care of production, recruitment, talking to the banker, holding fairs and exhibitions, etc., and there, this same person is being asked to convert their business and transform it digitally? It gets a bit complicated, ”says the CEO of ADRIQ.

Multidisciplinary support

Launched last February, the Trans Num program developed by ADRIQ is precisely intended to support these business leaders. The idea? Offer a hundred hours of support to a company to help it create its digital transformation plan and put it into action.

“Since we launched Trans Num, we have seen that there is demand. This type of support meets a particular need for companies that already have a certain technological and digital maturity as well as strategic thinking. We can not work with a company that does not know exactly where it is going, ”summarizes Pascal Monette, about his program funded quarter by the company helped and three quarters by government funds.

In fact, both federal and provincial governments have made digital transformation a key objective, especially in the context of post-pandemic economic recovery. As part of its digital transformation offensive unveiled last March, Quebec plans to invest $ 130 million by March 31, 2022 in projects aimed at accelerating the digital transformation of businesses and fostering the growth of innovative SMEs through to specialized support. On the federal side, an envelope of $ 1.4 billion was allocated last July to the Canadian Digital Adoption Program. Among other investments, the latter plans to provide Canadian SMEs with grants to access consulting services.

The crucial issue of digital skills

According to the Léger survey, the main obstacles that companies say they encounter in order to carry out their transformation relate more to alignment with the business model, the difficulty in establishing key performance indicators or the lack of internal skills and of employee motivation.

“The development of digital skills is a fairly important issue for many organizations at the moment. We started a research project with the Blue Cross on this subject. They realized that it was fine to deploy all the technology, if people are not ready to receive it, it will not work in the end, ”explains Simon Bourdeau, professor in the Department of Analytics, Operations and information technology at UQAM and researcher at the Center interuniversitaire de recherche en analyze des organizations.

“We start with technology, but in the end, if we want a digital transformation to succeed, the key is people”, concludes the researcher.

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