During the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses in Canada have proved that investing in workplace technology makes a business more resilient. As SMEs continue aiming to build businesses that can adapt to changes in the market, they are wondering which tech trends will be the most beneficial in 2022.
To help small businesses predict the smartest ways to invest in technology in Canada in 2022, we asked 150 business leaders throughout Canada what software they plan to invest in (scroll down for the full methodology).
With our survey data, we can understand which tools are currently most used, which ones have significant growth potential, and which tech trends Canadian SMEs are planning to budget for. In this article, we’ll analyze the top three tech trends business leaders plan to implement in 2021 and which trends are on the decline.
The top growing technology trends in Canada for 2022
As businesses around the world continue to be affected by the ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions, they’re asking themselves what changes they need to make to adapt. According to the majority of respondents to the survey, application integration, conversational user interfaces, and blockchain are the most cited technologies in terms of potential impact over the next two years.
1. Application integration
Over one-third (38%) of respondents said their companies are planning to adopt application integration software: more than any other technology in our survey.
Put simply, application integration is when your digital tools work and communicate together. Since the COVID-19 pandemic sped up the pace of digital adoption, businesses are working with more digital tools than ever before. It has become more important than ever to ensure that applications are integrated and are:
- Keeping data consistent across separate locations (within different applications.)
- Orchestrating a streamlined flow of the activities performed by disparate applications.
- Providing access to data and functionality from different applications through a single user interface.
To give an example of this, imagine a local bar or restaurant has built a mobile application for takeaways and deliveries from their locations. From a single application, customers can view current menus and past order information, both of which are managed by separate technologies (inventory management and order management software, respectively). Application integration within a tech stack is what facilitates this data transfer between platforms.
With every new technology added to a company’s toolbelt, IT departments must ensure it will function correctly with the existing ones. Many apps have built-in integration capabilities for other well-known tools. For connections not already supported by the apps themselves, an integration platform-as-a-service (iPaaS) could be needed to help integrate data, applications, and processes. Once the connections are made, an application management strategy should follow to ensure their tech infrastructure is functioning as planned.
2. Conversational user interfaces
Building on the theme of doing business in new ways, conversational user interfaces are the second most cited technology planned for implementation in 2022, as reported by 36% of respondents. A conversational user interface (CUI) is any space where users can interact and chat with a machine the way they would with a human.
There are two main types of CUI, one being voice assistants that you speak to like Amazon’s Echo or iOS’s Siri. Another example of a CUI are chatbots, which you converse with via text —usually in an instant messaging format.
Chatbots are becoming helpful to SMEs for many reasons. For example, chatbots enable businesses to:
- Provide 24/7 service
- Respond to customer queries instantly
- Create personalized experiences for users
- Collect customer data
- Provide information in multiple languages
Canadians’ internet usage grew during the pandemic; reaching customers with an interactive online platform is now vital. The increased digital habits also mean that competition for user attention is fiercer, which is where conversational user interfaces become useful. Conversational mechanisms like chatbots can respond to user queries quickly, successfully interacting with target customers in real-time.
Unfortunately, with increased digital business activity also comes an increased risk of cyber attacks. With a raised risk of a malicious cyber event, businesses want to keep their data safer than ever. That could be why 36% of business owners report wanting to invest in blockchain technology over the next year.
Blockchain technology creates records in decentralized ‘blocks’ that are unable to be altered, which means all recorded data is safe and verifiable. It can create records of numerous activities, such as monetary transactions, supply chain movement, and even contact verification. No matter what data is recorded, it becomes protected by the blockchain network, which can positively influence consumer trust.
With a boom in eCommerce already underway, blockchain technology provides an extra layer of cybersecurity for digital shops. Hackers must successfully hack into multiple ‘blocks’ of data to access information, which is virtually impossible, thus reducing the likelihood of data breaches for organizations using blockchain technology.
Mobile business applications become a must
According to the survey, 27% of businesses plan to invest in mobile business applications over the next 12-18 months. Combining that with the 45% of companies who report currently using this technology suggests that 72% of Canadian SMEs could have a mobile app by the end of 2022.
Canadians have been spending a significant amount of time on their mobile devices since the start of the pandemic, using them for entertainment, research, and online shopping. These increasing digital consumer habits have led to a 31% increase in mobile app spending since 2019. With a growing number of Canadians spending money within mobile applications, SMEs are beginning to see the importance of having an app. Luckily, innovations in application development have made it easier to create apps with the help of no-code and low-code platforms.
In addition to Canada, GetApp also surveyed small-business leaders in the U.S., UK, and Australia about technology adoption. Mobile applications showed to be a strong trend globally. In fact, 42% of Canadian decision-makers plan to invest between $10,000-$50,000 in this area in the next 12 months. Fewer leaders from other countries plan to invest as much: only 33% of U.K. and U.S. businesses plan to match this level of investment, and 32% from Australia.
The augmented/virtual reality trend is slowing
Although 22% of business leaders say they’re contemplating investing in augmented and virtual reality technologies, they are part of a diminishing trend. In our previous survey on Canadian technology trends of 2021, 32% of managers said they were contemplating investing in the software.
The 10% year-over-year dip in interest could be attributed to the disappearing physical distancing requirements. Technologies like augmented reality and virtual event software helped businesses engage their audience when physical meetings were prohibited amid the pandemic. However, as restrictions are lifted and COVID-19 cases continue to drop, businesses may no longer be feeling the need to create virtual experiences for customers.
Expanding business has replaced competitive pressure as the main motivator for tech adoption
One of the main reasons that business leaders reported adopting new technology in 2021 was competitive pressure. This year, SMEs seem to have switched focus from their competitors to their own income streams, with 38% of leaders citing expanding business locations as their main motivation for trying new tech. However, those locations could refer to physical locations or digital locations for doing business, such as social media platforms.
In the context of the growing tech trends of 2022, it seems businesses are seeking to expand their online income streams as opposed to physical locations. The technologies listed by decision-makers point to building secure, multi-experience online presences that can be customized for maximum engagement while remaining protected from cyber attacks.
GetApp conducted this survey online from August through September 2021, among 1,000 small-business leaders from the U.S. (548), Canada (150), the U.K. (150), and Australia (153). The goal of the study is to understand what technology investments small businesses are making and the drivers and challenges that influence their decisions.
Respondents were screened by:
Number of employees: 2 to 500 employees
Annual revenue: $5M to $250M
Industry: Manufacturing, Natural Resources, Communications, Media & Services, Education, Retail, Banking & Securities, Healthcare Providers, Construction and Hospitality
Respondents were required to be involved in purchasing technologies for the organization and hold a manager-level position or above in the company.
Disclaimer: Results of this study do not represent global findings or the market as a whole but reflect the sentiment of the respondents and companies surveyed.