Cisco Canada Blog

Why small businesses should attend Cisco Connect Toronto: Q&A with Pierre Cléroux, BDC

September 12, 2018

Next month, on October 18, we will welcome more than 3,000 customers, partners, and technology enthusiasts to Cisco Connect Toronto – one of Canada’s largest annual IT and business conferences.

I’m proud that this year, for the first time, we are partnering with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to deliver an experience exclusively for small and mid-sized business owners and leaders. Through sessions that cut through the complexity and focus on the business value of technology, our goal is to help every Canadian business be successful.

I recently sat down with Pierre Cléroux, BDC’s chief economist and vice president of research, to talk about what attendees can expect at Cisco Connect Toronto, the results of BDC’s latest research on technology adoption, and his advice for business owners.

BDC is co-presenting our track for small businesses at Cisco Connect next month. Can you preview what attendees will learn at the event, and why small business owners should attend?

Pierre Cléroux: In the first session, we will explore emerging trends that are disrupting Canada’s business landscape. From the increasing importance of e-commerce, automation and data, to shifting demographic trends including an aging population and an increasingly diversified labour force, doing business in Canada is changing in profound and unprecedented ways. We want to help entrepreneurs navigate this changing landscape.

In another session we will focus on this year’s BDC Small Business Week topic, digitization, and will close the day with a panel discussion on how technology has helped entrepreneurs grow their business.

The theme of this year’s BDC Small Business Week is Digitize now: Transform your business. Why did you choose this topic?

PC: We live in an increasingly connected, automated and data-driven world. These changes are having an important impact on every sector of the economy. Some industries are being redefined; other are being created. The accelerating pace of technological change is one of the most significant economic events of the 21st century.

In this environment, Canadian businesses need to embrace new technologies or risk falling behind. This is what we want to tell Canadian entrepreneurs during BDC Small Business Week this year. We want to create a sense of urgency about the need to adopt digital technologies. And we want to give entrepreneurs the tools they need to implement the digital shift in their business.

Why should Canadian entrepreneurs care about digitization?

PC: We surveyed 2,000 Canadian small and mid-sized business owners and decision makers to understand how they were adapting to the rapid pace of technological change. We found that, over the past three years, digitally advanced companies were:

  • 62% more likely to have enjoyed high sales growth
  • 52% more likely to have enjoyed high profit growth
  • 329% more likely to have innovated

These results show that Canadian small and mid-sized businesses need to embrace digital technologies to keep up with the competition.

Explain what digital technologies are for our readers.

PC: Digital technologies refer to any information and communication technology (ICT) that is used to support or accomplish a business activity.

We’ve created this table to provide an overview of the major technologies we are talking about.




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