Small companies, tech trends shaping the future of business


Source: Winnipeg Free Press

If gauged by the sheer impact on the economy, Small Business Week should be the most important business event of the year.

At a well-attended kickoff event Monday, the significance of small businesses to the national and provincial economy was made clear: there are about 120,000 small businesses in Manitoba (with 50 or fewer employees); they have accounted for 95 per cent of the new private sector jobs created over the last decade — 1.2 million jobs — and they represent 52 per cent of the GDP from the business sector.

Changes to federal tax regulations for private business were the hot topic Monday, but a new study done by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) indicated the two major factors creating a new reality for Canadian small business are the large scale demographic changes that are fundamentally reshaping the labour force and the digitization of the economy that is disrupting entire sectors and creating all sorts of new opportunities.

At the event hosted by World Trade Centre Winnipeg, Loren Remillard, president of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, said, “What’s great about these events is it is so fundamental — especially given some of the rhetoric we’ve heard from the federal government around small business tax changes — to be able to focus in on the value small business contributes to the community.”

The BDC study indicated that close to 40 per cent of respondents said technology has already changed their business and more than 50 per cent said it transformed their business.

Duncan Stewart, Deloitte’s Canadian director of research for technology, media and telecommunications (TMT), was on hand to present Deloitte’s TMT predictions for 2017, noting the declining number of women in the information technology sector (citing incidences of sexual harassment as a major cause) and the absence of any major hardware blockbusters since the computer tablet was introduced in 2010.

Deloitte is not always bang-on in its predictions but it has definitely got a few things right — including its prediction that virtual reality headsets were not going to be embraced by the masses.

Here’s a few of this year’s predictions:

Prints charming: biometric security reaches the billions. Deloitte predicts the active base of fingerprint reader-equipped devices will top one billion in 2017.

5G: Deloitte predicts that more than 200 mobile networks around the world will include elements of 5G network architecture in 2017 as part of a steady progression to full launch of 5G in 2020.

The great indoors: the final frontier for digital navigation. Deloitte predicts that by 2022, at least one quarter of human and machine uses of digital navigation will include or be exclusively indoors enabled by things such as Wi-Fi hotspots, beacons and other emerging technologies.

Brains at the edge: machine learning goes mobile. Deloitte predicts that in 2017 more than 300 million smartphones (more than one fifth of units sold) will have on-board machine-learning capabilities.

TV advertising in the U.S.: flat is the new up. Deloitte predicts that U.S. television advertising will be the same in 2017 as it was in 2016 — US$72 billion.

DDoS attacks enter the terabit era: Deloitte predicts that globally there will be one terabit Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack per month and more than 10 million smaller attacks during the year due to the growing base of insecure Internet of Things devices, online instructions for unskilled attackers and rising uplink data speeds.