Fast 50 companies shine light on tech trends

Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 has a few things to teach CIOs this year. The annual award, which highlights the most innovative and high-growth firms in Canada’s tech industry, showed a marked shift in the types of technology used by companies making the list.

“Digital media companies represent 18 per cent of this year’s Fast 50 winners with nine companies in the subsector, a considerable increase from previous years,’ said Pascal Lamoureux, Partner and Leader for Deloitte’s Fast 50 program.

Digital media is becoming an increasingly important part of the Canadian technology landscape, from social media through to advertising. The top company in the Fast 50 was Toronto-based Chango, which focuses on programmatic advertising. This technology matches advertisers with their audience in real time, and it does it across multiple channels, including TV and social media.

“The potential market for programmatic advertising is as big as digital advertising itself,” said Ben Plomion, VP of marketing at the firm.

“Today, most Canadian marketers are using programmatic in some form. It is evolving from being used just for display advertising into areas such as video,” he continued. “And with the move towards streaming content, many marketers are showing an interest in programmatic for television advertising.”

Other digital media players include Vancouver’s Hootsuite, which moved from the ‘Companies to Watch’ list to place second this year, also scooping a place on Deloitte’s Leadership list.

Those on the Companies to Watch list are earlier stage growth companies that can also offer a sight line into technology trends, said Lamoureux.

“Technologies are evolving at an extremely fast pace in today’s world,” he said. “CEOs and CIOs from all industries can benefit from understanding those cutting-edge technologies and how to apply them in their organisations.”

So, what did the Companies to Watch list hold this year? Marketing and retail were big draws, with Askuity, which provides retailers and product suppliers with analytics, and Hubba, which makes it easier to get product information from manufacturers to retailers.

Influitive also helps companies to identify customers who act as advocates for their products and services. And Datacratic provides artificial intelligence for real-time decision making in areas like ecommerce and ad networks.

But these were not the only emerging technology areas that CIOs might want to watch in the future. Mnubo provides data management for the Internet of Things, including wearables. Axonify uses gamification to enhance the eLearning experience specifically for corporate clients.

One resource that Canada’s next-generation companies need to flourish is funding. Deloitte interviewed the Fast 50 CEOs and found a positive attitude to Canadian funding. More funding is creeping back into the Canadian tech scene, it said, and 89% of respondents said that the ability to access capital for tech firms here had stayed the same or improved in the last five years.

Al Karim Somji, CEO of Zafin, appreciates the need for good funding. The company, which ranked 16th on the list this year, produces product and lifecycle management software, with a specific focus on the financial services sector.

“Access to capital is very important to a vibrant technology industry in Canada,” he said. Zafin recently raised $15 million in growth capital from US-based Kayne Partners, in addition to the $5 million from BC’s Beedie Group. “This investment leads to new products and a growing R&D team in our Ottawa office,” he said.

As digital media and software dominate the Fast 50, CIOs would do well to look to these subsectors for innovation. Tomorrow’s companies are offering traditional businesses a way to improve revenues by gaining insights into their markets and reaching valuable customers in new ways.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Danny Bradbury
Danny Bradbury
Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with over 20 years' experience writing about security, software development, and networking.

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