Posted February 11, 2010
Clare Mellor, Staff Reporter, Chronicle Herald: Thursday, February 11, 2010
A Canadian leader in information technology says this country is seriously lagging behind other major countries when it comes to the adoption of new information technology.
“There is what I call a crisis in Canada,” Tom Turchet, the chairman of the Information Technology Association of Canada, said in a telephone interview Wednesday from his office in Toronto. “It is irrefutable that we are not keeping up.”
As an example Turchet, a vice-president with IBM Corp., pointed to a Canadian company he heard about that was debating whether to invest in technology or a new truck.
“People running that company are comfortable that they understand what a new truck would provide them… versus what technology can provide in terms of larger region marketplaces or movement of goods,” Turchet said.
A number of studies support the theory that Canada is lagging behind its competitors including one by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that was released late last year, he said.
It “ranks Canada ninth in the world as a country to live in, which is fantastic. However, it ranks us 21st in the world in our absorption of technology.”
Canadian firms, mostly in the medium- and small-business sector, are estimated to be about 20 per cent behind comparable firms in the United States when it comes to adoption of new technology, Turchet said.
“They don’t really think of technology as a competitive tool or a competitive advantage,” he said.
The Atlantic provinces are investing less than the rest of the country in information and communications technology, a report released in January by the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council said.
The Atlantic provinces invested about $1.85 billion in information and communications technology in 2007, the report said.
“This amounts to $1,690 per worker, only 80 per cent of the national rate of $2,110 in (information and communications technology) investment per worker.”
The largest component of Atlantic ICT investment - about 40 per cent - is in computers and related equipment, the report added.
Some might say, “so what?”
But Turchet said the adoption of new digital technology is directly linked to Canada’s competiveness and prosperity.
Turchet hopes the federal budget will support the implementation of a country-wide technology strategy, which his association has been pushing for.
“Government, (educators) and private sector really need to step this up in terms of a co-ordinated approach,” he said.
Turchet will be speaking in Halifax today at the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel to members of the Information Technology Industry Alliance of Nova Scotia.
To read this article on the Chronicle Herald website, click here.