Trends Canadian Firms Need to Watch in 2018

The time to future-proof your business is now. According to a 2017 BDC survey of 1,400 business leaders, 38 per cent of Canadian business leaders said they've changed the way they do business following the integration of new technologies. 

A new BDC survey, Future-proof your business, has found that shifting demographics and new digital technologies are changing the Canadian business landscape in profound ways.

Here are the trends and strategies for leveraging them.

The trend: An aging workforce

As boomers retire, the working-age population will grow at a slower pace and even shrink in some parts of Canada.

The strategy: Difficulty attracting and retaining skilled employees will no doubt become more acute, particularly in Eastern Canada. As the talent pool shrinks, companies will need to position themselves as “employers of choice” in their market.

The trend: Rise of millennials

Millennials and Gen Z-ers will account for half of the workforce by 2020.

The strategy: Canadian businesses that adapt management practices to take advantage of this generation’s strengths will reap the benefits.

The trend: A more culturally diverse population

By 2032, immigrants will account for up to 80% of Canada’s population growth.

The strategy: A winning recruitment strategy in a tight labour market includes embracing diversity and reaching out to immigrants. Openness to diversity requires buy-in from top management and a willingness to root out unconscious biases in the workplace.

The trend: Growth of virtual marketplaces

E-commerce is growing fast in Canada. Businesses are increasingly using these platforms to sell products and services worldwide becoming, in effect, micro-multinationals.

The strategy: An online presence has become a must, even for businesses that don’t sell online. The most competitive businesses will be those that can leverage their digital platform to exceed customer expectations and expand beyond Canada’s borders.

The trend: Automation of business activities

Adoption of robotics by Canadian manufacturers lags behind other developed economies, but global demand for industrial robots is booming.

The strategy: To stay competitive, Canadian entrepreneurs must embrace automation, which boosts productivity, reduces costs and helps maintain a flexible business by reducing time to market and increasing responsiveness to customers.

The trend: Rise of the data economy

Businesses that use insights from data to optimize their operations will become more competitive.

The strategy: Businesses can use mobile and the Internet of Things to redefine their models, i.e., a company that sells machinery can shift to a “product-as-a-service” model, charging based on usage, rather than simply making one-time sales.

The trend: Assisted development

One of the top five trends listed in’s Consumer Insights 2018 report looks at the post-demographic trend of delayed adulthood and smart ways businesses can respond to this growing Gen Y and Millennial market need. In 2018, these consumers in young adulthood will expect brands to help them craft the narratives of adulthood that suit them.

The reason: Sky-high home ownership and rental prices, stagnant wages and high youth unemployment have put the traditional staging posts of adulthood on hold for many people, often until they are in their 30s.

The strategy: Ask how the life-stage narratives are changing for the people your business serves? What life goals and life staging posts would they look to you to help achieve?

Co-working spaces are one example of meeting the needs of the assisted development generation. In the U.K., Selfridge’s department store is offering homemaking courses. In the U.S., Loftium provides home down payments up to USD 50,000. The no-interest loan is repaid by splitting the revenue of short-term Airbnb rentals in the home with Loftium, which also offers hosting support services such a pricing guidelines, a digital lock and hosting supplies.

 This article is from the December 2017/January 2018 issue