Innovation Blog: Seizing the Opportunity of the Cloud

Posted by Peter Wilenius, Vice President, Business Development

A global phenomenon

Even for those of us who’ve been deeply involved in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry for 20+ years, it’s sometimes difficult to grasp the magnitude of change and the truly transformative impact that internet technologies have had. Try to think of an area of your personal or professional life that hasn’t changed over the last 10 years in particular as a result of advances in ICT technologies.

Since the humble beginnings of the internet as a research network 40+ years ago and the development of the World Wide Web some 30 years back, the change has been truly astonishing.

Today, if the internet economy was its own country, it would represent the 5th largest global economy behind only the US, China, Japan and India. According to Boston Consulting Group, the internet sector represents 4.1% of GDP in the G-20 countries – well ahead of traditional industries such as agriculture, mining and forestry. With more than 3 billion users (1 billion added in less than 5 years), the internet represents a means of reaching markets with tremendous potential.

Is Canada falling behind?

By almost any measure, Canadians are at the forefront in terms of affinity for and adoption of internet technologies. We visit the most webpages on a monthly basis, watch the second most on-line video, have the highest per capita use of social media, and are eagerly adopting mobile payments and e-commerce technologies.

Yet our business community has lagged many other global counterparts in the adoption of these technologies, which are causing a drag on our economic growth prospects. The relative position of the internet economy in Canada’s GDP lags well behind that of its counterparts and we’re losing ground.

And the internet isn’t just for big multi-national technology companies. A recent McKinsey Global Institutes study found that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who rely heavily on internet technologies grow their businesses at twice the rate of low adopters.  The potential reaches across all sectors with 75% of the internet economy’s impact in traditional industries.

Every company needs to be a tech company

The message is “Every company needs to be a tech company” to leverage the capabilities of the global internet to grow their businesses.

Fueling this transformation, cloud computing can help small businesses harness the opportunities to develop new goods and services, gain insights from customer interactions and reach global markets.

In lay terms, cloud computing provides a means of access computing, software and data storage technologies in a utility or subscription type service over a network; typically the Internet but private networks as well. While many well-known companies such as Netflix, Amazon and Facebook are built on these technologies, cloud computing’s flexible, on-demand nature is also ideally suited for SMEs who need reliable pay as you go infrastructure that can rapidly scale to meet the demands of growing businesses without tying up scarce capital or human resources.

How can Canadian businesses exploit this opportunity?

CANARIE’s DAIR (Digital Accelerator for Innovation and Research) program leverages Canada’s investment in the CANARIE national backbone research and education network to accelerate product development and market competitiveness of Canadian SMEs.

DAIR helps Canadian entrepreneurs develop new products and services via free access to cloud-based (virtual) compute and storage resources.

By participating in DAIR you can:

  • Rev up product development and get to market faster
  • Reduce your product development costs
  • Show your prototype quickly to potential customers and investors
  • Have the freedom and flexibility to experiment in your design and development, to discover the optimal way to build your product

Nearly 350 Canadian companies developing applications covering a wide range of industry sectors – e-commerce, healthcare, education, security, gaming, social media to name just a few – have used DAIR to move their ideas from concept to commerce.

“I cannot imagine what or where I would be, if we didn’t use the DAIR program. Providing this service is driving innovation, by allowing entrepreneurs & SMEs, the backbone of our economy, to access top of the line IT infrastructure – unlike any other kind I’ve seen or heard of, internationally.” Adreece Akrouche, Co-Founder, Proxishop

“The DAIR program was excellent for us. With it we were able to build a scalable cloud solution capable of expanding elastically to handle peak hours with a large number of concurrent requests. We have since moved to a commercial cloud and are ready to go to market with a robust product that represents an innovation in voice biometrics with applications in finance, proof-of-life, voice login, to e-commerce and security.” Roanne Levitt, Vice President, Perceive Solutions

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