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SME Digital Maturity: See the results of the survey

SME Digital Maturity Survey: Positive Impact of Audit 4.0 and Digital Transformation Driven by Operational Necessity

MONTRÉAL, April 28, 2022 – As a firm that is constantly alert to the needs of local businesses in order to support their growth and help them become more innovative, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton surveyed managers and business leaders to find out how far they have come in their digital shift and to determine their interest in this essential business priority. Main findings: SMEs are aware of the importance of a digital shift, but they underestimate its potential.

The survey (available in French) was conducted by SOM on behalf of the firm with some 300 respondents from Québec SMEs having 30 to 499 employees between November 11, 2021 and January 14, 2022. It generated findings that are both interesting and troubling, in the sense that many organizations are undertaking a digital transformation without first conducting a diagnosis (4.0 audit), one of the crucial steps of a successful technological shift.

Audit 4.0: an essential diagnostic to evaluate the organization’s digital maturity and decide on the digital strategy to adopt

First, it should be noted that a 4.0 audit is an important step in the organizational strategy of a digital transformation. This diagnosis determines whether the organization has the digital maturity to achieve the objectives agreed upon during its strategic planning. Then, according to the issues and challenges identified during the 4.0 audit, a digital plan is defined, including a structured approach to select solutions and plan change management in connection with the prioritized digital projects.

The survey revealed that organizations having conducted a 4.0 audit have a statistically higher positive impact than those that skipped this step, particularly in terms of strategic decision-making. SMEs are therefore encouraged to conduct a 4.0 audit, because even though nearly 80% of them say they have begun their digital transformation, only 33% have completed or started such an audit.

Fortunately, government funding is available for organizations that want to innovate through digital technology. Both in Québec and federally, leaders have access to significant financial assistance to deploy their digital strategy such as the ESSOR program that includes 4.0 audit. The recent federal government announcement regarding the Canada Digital Adoption Program also provides for various measures to assist SMEs develop their digital strategy.

“In addition to making it possible for leaders to be supported by accredited experts, such as the ones we have at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, the available funding promotes the implementation of an efficient digital strategy adapted to the organization’s needs, while helping to alleviate the labour shortage through strategies such as the automation of administrative processes or robotization. It is clear that the digital shift, which has become a necessity rather than a choice for organizations, is generating very positive impacts at multiple levels,” says Nancy Jalbert, Partner, Business Transformation Advisory and 4.0 Practice Leader.

Education and awareness of digital transformation: there’s still work to be done!

The vast majority (78%) of SMEs say they have begun a digital shift and 94% of them consider it a medium-term strategic priority. Operational necessity is the main driver of this transformation which seems to be an indicator of the need to catch up. Moreover, it should be noted that a quarter of Québec SMEs consider that they have made little progress or lag behind in this area. The obstacles are generally due to the organizational culture or insufficient knowledge of the process.

“To stay competitive and sustainable, all organizations must make digital transformation an organizational priority. Having this intention is not enough, investment and governance must also be aligned to achieve this strategic objective. There are significant benefits to such a shift on multiple levels. Technology’s contribution to organizational success must be an integral part of effective change management. This is why we must continue our efforts to raise awareness and communicate with our economic drivers to give them every means to achieve their technological ambitions and make them increasingly productive,” says Simon Cloutier, Vice-President, Strategy and Transformation Practice, Management Consulting.

Want to know your organization’s digital profile?

Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton invites SMEs to assess their digital maturity and identify priority areas for action at no cost by answering the Digital Profile diagnostic tool here.

About Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton

Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton is a professional services firm that has been dedicated to the success of organizations and their leaders since 1948. The firm’s advisors are committed to helping clients thrive by obtaining a deep understanding of what is important to them, their business and their industry. This knowledge, combined with a team of motivated and talented professionals, helps accelerate growth.

A Québec and Canadian leader in the areas of assurance, tax, advisory services and business recovery and reorganization, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton relies on a team of more than 2,600 professionals, including approximately 200 partners, working in over 100 offices across the province and in the Ottawa and Edmundston regions.

Together with Grant Thornton LLP, another Canadian firm, and the Grant Thornton global organization, our global footprint spans across more than 140 countries with over 62,000 people who provide real insight, a fresh perspective and agility to keep clients moving ahead.


Francis Letendre
Head, Public Affairs
Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton
Tel.: 514-390-4201
[email protected]

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