The global economy is upon us and emerging digital technologies have the potential to significantly heighten Canada’s competitive advantage.Demographic shifts, globalization of markets, changing consumer habits and expectations, and fierce competition are all radically altering how markets function and businesses operate. At the heart of this rapid transformation are innovative technologies – a critical enabler behind any modern economy such as Canada. Over the next 5 years, the adoption of smart and connected technologies powered by hyper-scale cloud computing will reshape all sectors of our economy including manufacturing, natural resources, financial services, health, transportation, and many others.

As ICTC asserts, a 1% increase in labour productivity as the result of adopting advanced technologies would yield $8 billion to the Canadian economy. Despite the compelling argument for greater technology adoption, Canadian enterprises, particularly small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), are slow to adopt new technologies.  This contributes to Canada’s well-known and persistent productivity gap relative to the U.S., our largest trading partner.  And while differences in scale economies and access to capital have historically been cited as inherent disadvantages for Canadian businesses with global aspirations, cloud computing is ushering in a new era in which technology is more affordable, secure and scalable than ever before.  Cloud computing is the great equalizer of our era.

Although greater technology adoption holds tremendous promise for the Canadian economy, we need to ensure that we have the right talent to lead the adoption and use of these new tools. However, the ICTC’s labour market report indicates that by 2019, over 182,000 critical ICT positions will be left unfilled.  This at a time when young Canadians are facing unemployment levels of approximately 12.8%.  We must not miss the opportunity to train young Canadians to fill the digital jobs of the future, a central theme of Microsoft’s YouthSpark initiative in Canada. Talent is critical to our ability to leverage the full potential of exciting new technologies that will drive the future growth and prosperity of the Canadian economy.

Microsoft is committed to empowering people and organizations to do more and achieve more. We are grateful to the ICTC for its insightful analysis and look forward to expanding and deepening this discussion to address the key catalysts and policy measures needed to secure Canada’s future prosperity in an increasingly global and competitive environment.

Janet Kennedy

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President, Microsoft Canada Inc.