The Great Greenfield North – Canadian Business IT Market
Sometimes people are surprised to discover that Canadian adoption of modern Information & Communication Technology (ICT) methods, lags behind our American counterparts. How can a country that scores high on the global digital economy scale, with a solid technology and software industry and a high proportion of skilled ICT practitioners, be slow at adopting the next wave?
There are a few factors that have contributed to slow adoption of technology here. Let’s discuss what those factors are, what the resulting gaps are in the market, and how this scenario provides a significant opportunity for ICT channel businesses.
So why do we lag?
For the most part, ICT consumption in Canada has remained a tactical exercise for most businesses. Rather than directly tying technology activities and consumption to the business strategy and outcomes, IT departments generally approach fulfilling IT needs at a project level and mostly in a reactive fashion.
Bluntly, this has been due to a lack of options. The dominant providers of IT for most businesses are the major Canadian telcos. This is because, due to data-residency requirements for most businesses operating in Canada, the global providers of infrastructure are often not a viable option. This is starting to change with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure now hosting cloud facilities located in Canada, but such providers have only recently established presence here and are still early in the adoption cycle.
As a result, the regional telcos are the main resource for most business IT purchases, none of which have a full national reach or network that covers the country coast to coast. So, the IT buying conversation has remained at the regional or department level with no providers that can outline, much less fulfill, a true IT/Business vision for their customers.
Without nationally focused facilities or networks to enable a more consultative and strategic approach to businesses operating in Canada, the channel and agent ecosystem remained stagnant, leaving the Canadian market undeveloped. This offers a great opportunity for agents to change the game with the right Canadian partner. Small as Canada is, it’s a huge opportunity. Let’s look at some rough estimates – note these are my “back-of-the-napkin numbers”:
Looking at these numbers, Canada presents a great greenfield opportunity: basically, an entire nation of businesses looking for the same cloud and managed services solutions that have already been provided in other countries for years, with one-tenth the competition to deal with as below the 49th parallel.
How to change the game
So, you’re probably thinking, “the opportunity is sizeable, and the competition is sparse. That’s great, but what’s the formula for success?” The answer for skilled IT agents and channel providers is, quite simply, do what you’re already doing, but do it here in Canada with the right partner. Rather than focus on fulfilling tactical one-off needs through the regional providers, work with a national provider that offers a unified approach and ownership across the country- one that offers a broad catalogue of network & infrastructure services, as well as a complete set of managed and professional services. These services, along with a variety of cloud or hosting facilities, is what makes a true Hybrid IT solution.
With the right partner and this approach, you can not only change the game in terms of value offered, but change the conversation from a tactical, IT department purchase to a true strategy that delivers IT value and business alignment for any enterprise.
Written by: Nabeel Sherif
Nabeel has spent his career working in product development/innovation, business planning, and change management for the ICT sector, as well as in consumer and industrial electronics. Over the past 20 years, Nabeel has launched dozens of new ICT products and services around the globe, from metropolitan WiFi and Enterprise & Industrial networks to fully automated cloud IT infrastructure and applications.
Additionally, Nabeel is a Curriculum Lead and Instructor at the University of Toronto (U of T) School of Continuing Studies. He is the owner/creator and lecturer for U of T’s Cloud Computing Certificate program and President of Player 2 Technology Solutions, a consultancy specializing in product strategy and network architecture for ICT businesses. He is also Cloud Specialist at TeraGo Networks and has spent most of his career in technology conceptualizing, developing, marketing, and evangelizing computing and communications products for a variety of ICT providers and global electronics manufacturers. For the past 15 years, his focus has been in developing and creating the next generation of services and products in hosting, cloud computing, data centre services, and application networks.
He holds a B.Sc (Hon) from the University of Ottawa, an MBA from Queen’s University, and has designed and managed dozens of communications products and hundreds of global networks for the past two decades.