Embrace collaboration and technology to create meaningful change

By March 6, 2023

We’ve seen over the past year or so how businesses in Greater Vancouver and across the province are grappling with the challenges posed by economic uncertainty, rapid technological change, skills shortages, supply change disruption, increased demand for sustainability and more. In the face of these challenges, government, industry, and business leaders must improve collaboration to cultivate an environment that supports business development and growth, while also leveraging provincial resources in a sustainable and effective manner.

I had the opportunity recently to participate in an executive panel discussion at the Vancouver Board of Trade’s 34th Annual Economic Forum, along with Prem Gill, CEO, Creative BC; Walter Pela, Regional Managing Partner, KPMG; and Susan Yurkovich, Senior Vice President, Global Business Development, Canfor. As we shared our unique, sector-based viewpoints, a few common themes surfaced as to how greater collaboration and investment could drive future economic growth and resiliency.

In the technology industry, there are some key areas where organizations should be focussing efforts:


Accept the acceleration and transformation of tech

Organizations look to technology to drive business results and competitive advantages in the quest for innovation and sustainable growth. Technology has sped up value creation through business transformation, from decision-making analytics and costs reduction to process optimization and business continuity in a competitive environment.

Technology is no longer just an IT tool. To reap its full advantage, it should be integrated within an overall business strategy, shifting focus from merely cost reduction to one centred on growth and value creation.


Fill the skills gap

There are more and more opportunities for new STEM-related roles (those related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in Canada, especially as organizations adopt new technologies like AI and hybrid cloud; however, many job seekers, students, and career changers aren’t pursuing these opportunities because they either don’t realize the potential or they don’t believe they are qualified. In fact, a study released this month from IBM reports that 66% of Canadians don’t feel they can work in STEM because they don’t have the right academic degrees.

To fill the skills gap, a focus can be on reskilling and upskilling. Businesses should consider sharing skills and resources with ecosystem partners and outsource workstreams that partners can manage more efficiently. Additionally, they should consider mining internal operational and employee data to discover untapped skills and talent in the existing workforce and searching for talent with the right skills rather than the right degree.


Adjust to the new supply chain reality

In 2023, leaders expect supply chain breakdowns to continue to threaten business continuity. Natural disasters and geopolitical disruption have forced leaders to rethink their supply chain models and automate business ecosystems for greater predictability, flexibility, and insights into operations and decision-making. Integrating AI can also help organizations monitor quality, track performance, and generate more accurate forecasts in almost real time.


Make sustainability central to business strategy

Increasingly, ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) is being used to evaluate a business’s operational performance. Companies can grow resiliency and profitability through the confluence of digital and sustainability transformation by using data, technology, and standardized metrics to advance sustainability goals through overall daily operations.


Looking forward

To provide an attractive environment for businesses and job creation, our region must embrace collaboration and technology to create meaningful change. Bottom line? If business and government in the Greater Vancouver region are ready to act fast, stay flexible, and think long-term, the uncertainty of 2023 could soon be replaced with renewed economic growth and business success.


Eric Johnson, Partner, Public Sector Western Canada, IBM Canada



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