Canadian SMEs lag in Internet uptake

When it comes to adopting Internet business solutions, Canada’s small and medium-sized enterprises – key drivers of the economy – are falling behind their international counterparts, warns the Canadian e-Business Initiative (CeBI), a private-sector-led group focussed on advancing Canada’s e-business usage.

Two recent CeBI studies found that while Canadian SMEs in leading sectors such as financial services and communications are adopting e-business aggressively, many of the same-sized firms in the retail, wholesale and manufacturing sectors are not moving beyond basic technologies such as e-mail and Internet use.

According to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s e-Readiness Rankings, Canada placed fourth out of 64 countries in electronic commerce in 2001; by 2002, we were ninth; and by 2004 we had fallen to eleventh place.

“Canada must work to address these weaknesses, which are holding us back from creating a more dynamic and productive digital economy,” said Terry Walsh, president of Cisco Systems Canada and co-chair of CeBI.

In order for Canada to reclaim its position as a leading global e-economy, CeBI believes a concerted effort by government, private sector leaders and academia is required. It advocates that The Government of Canada pursue a strategic plan to stimulate e-business adoption amongst SMEs, which could include annual sectoral benchmarks, industry roadmaps and coordinated and consistent leadership to build awareness.

The group also believes that the federal government should “…clarify and review marketplace rules to facilitate long-term economic growth. All opportunities should be taken to support and communicate Canada’s technological know-how to key investors and trading partners.” Copies of the reports can be downloaded at

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