Canadian companies that lag behind in equipping their employees with technology tools will suffer in their ability to attract and retain workers, says a poll to be released tomorrow.
The survey, conducted by Ipsos-Reid for Microsoft Canada, shows that 75 per cent of Canadians "see technology tools and software as an important consideration" when choosing a place to work.
In B.C. the respondents were ahead of that average, with 77 per cent agreeing.
Regionally, across the country, the figures were: Atlantic Canada, 90 per cent; Saskatchewan/Manitoba, 87; Ontario, 79; Alberta, 75; Quebec, 59.
The survey also found that one in five employed Canadians don't think their company is committed to providing its employees with the latest and best software, technology and tools.
"Canadian information workers are facing a productivity gap now, compared [with] their counterparts in other countries," said Mike
Bulmer, Microsoft Office System product manager for Microsoft Canada. "A lot of that has to do with technology."
This will negatively affect companies on a number of fronts, says an Ottawa sales consultant and a headhunter in an executive search firm based in Vancouver.
"From a sales perspective, equipping your people with technology is key to being successful," said consultant Les Faber of Faber and Associates. "Do they have a cellphone, a mobile device, a laptop computer, the softweare that makes these things run? Is the software collaborative? You want your people to hit the road running, be out there selling, not diddling with things."
Headhunter Kathryn Young of Ray & Berndtson, a search firm that seeks and places top-level executives, said candidates increasingly focus on the technology available in a given company.
"Candidates are asking about technology," she said. "They want to know about the tools that can make them successful.
"We see it all the time recruiting for a [chief financial officer]. They want to know what the budget is, and if it's not in place, is there an appetite with management to get it. It is becoming ever more critical."
Bulmer said more Canadian companies need to understand the importance of integrating people and information.
"You want to automate processes and then make them work together, but the third thing is when you put the people back in," he said. "That's when you get some real magic happening.
"You take a person who used to input the information and now their job is to look at the orders as they go by and look for red flags.
"If you give a person the right tool, they can provide value more than just inputting information.
"Canadian companies need to get on that bandwagon. It's not the document -- it's the information that's stored in that document that has the value. You need to have the tools so that everybody can access that information."
Faber said implementing technology is more than writing a cheque. Money must be spent wisely.
"You have to make sure that all levels of mangement get involved in the process," he said. "Years ago, it was restricted to finance. If a CEO is smart, he will patch into different areas of the company."
Young agreed that technology investments are to a degree a leap of faith, as results are difficult to measure in an abstract way.
"It's hard to correlate the return on the investment," she said. "You have to look at customer satisfaction, employee efficiency. Some of these capital expenditures need to be looked at from 15 years out.
"But a company that is using technology well is going to be successful. [It attracts] better people, who in turn drive the company better."
© The Vancouver Province 2005
© 2005 Ray & Berndtson