Entrepreneurs and senior business managers, this column is for you.

It’s not about money per se, it’s about who is buying your goods/services, what they are buying, and how they are thinking.

Last week, business consulting company Deloitte Canada brought its director of research Duncan Stewart to town to deliver his annual Deloitte’s TMT (Technology, Media and Telecommunications) predictions for 2014.

On the same day, Ipsos market research/polling company CEO Darrell Bricker delivered the keynote address at the Alberta’s Industrial Heartland annual Stakeholder Update. Bricker’s talk was about the “new” Canada, which, ironically, had the undivided attention of the “old” Canada (regional municipal politicans, 90% white, over 55 and male) in his audience.

There’s a thread here, an obvious one, a cliché fast moving to reality.

If your organization doesn’t adapt to the “new” Canada, it will die.

The new Canada’s not a bit like the old one, and the new Canada is all about new communication technologies.

Change, or die.

In point form, an interspering of the two analysts’ observations: “DS” stands for Duncan Stewart, “DB” for Darrell Bricker.

•The ‘old” Canada, circa 1970, was English, French and white. The average family — average — had four children. We are moving from white to brown. Most immigration in 1970 came from Europe and the USA, in 2010 from the Philippines, India and China. A global middle-class sees Canada as a land of opportunity – 30% of Edmontonians are foreign-born, 49.7% of Torontonians, 39.6% of Vancouverites. (DB)

•Without immigrants, Canada would  be in a population decline. Our average family now has 1.7 kids. But just to keep the population steady (without immigration), we’d need 2.1 kids. As it is Canada has grown from 19 million in 1960 to 34 million today — We lead the G8 countries in population growth. Within Canada, however, Quebec and Atlantic Canada continue to shrink. While other urban centres  grow, Montreal and Halifax remain flat. (DB)

•Global sales of electronic devices has jumped from $200 billion sales 10 years ago to $750 billion today. But such growth is plateauing. Maturing technology means smartphones no longer need constant upgrading. The spending will continue, however, on purchases of software, services and content. (DS)

•Despite growing immigration (291,000 in 2010 compared to 100,000 in 1986), we continue to age. Next year, for the first time, Canadian seniors will outnumber children. (DB).

•Medical eVisits (Skype-like consulting between a doctor/nurse and patients for minor ailments) will take off. The savings and efficiencies are such that public health systems have to embrace this now-proven technology. (DS)

•Political trends look good for the Harper government. The centre-right coalition of conservative immigrants in Toronto suburbs, plus urban and rural westerners, now outnumbers the centre-left coalition of Atlantic Canada, Quebec, urban Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal – a coalition split between New Democrats and Liberals. Since 1961, Canada has seen a massive shift of population to Ontario and the west.  “You guys in the west are now running the joint!” (DB).

•Canadian exports have quadrupled since 2000, when the USA took 85%. Today the USA takes 71%. Last year China moved ahead of the United Kingdom to be our #2 trading partner. (DB).  Any Edmonton company starting to export should have a sales presence in Asia as well as the USA (DS).

The message to Edmonton businesses from  these two speakers is strikingly clear.

The experience and wisdom of the 55+ crowd may be a valuable asset. But to be effective, this generation must relentlessly study, understand and absorb both new technologies AND study how younger generations think and act. (“Retire Retirement” by Tamara Erickson, is an excellent book on the topic.)

All organizations should, without regard for individual self-preservation, critically review the age, gender and ethnic makeup of senior management, and, just as important, boards of directors.

Change, or die.  And as soon as you’ve changed, you must start changing again.

 

 

Factoids

(from speeches by Deloitte director of research Duncan Stewart and Ipsos CEO Darrell Bricker)

- Phablets – any smartphone with a screen 13 centimetres or longer – are poised to take off in sales. Over half the consumers buying phablets also have smaller smartphones.

- Despite the prolific growth of mobile devices, 70% of all Internet page-views in 2013 still came from personal computers.

- Canada leads the G8 (advanced economy) nations in population growth. The populations of Russia, Japan and Germany are shrinking.

- With 78.6% of Canadians computer-savvy, Canada leads the world in per-person Internet use.

- When it comes to economic confidence, Canadians are fifth in the world after Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Germany and China.

- With many Western European countries in economic shambles, expect more immigration of college-educated young Europeans to Canada.

- Despite Internet-based video-on-demand services, 11.8 million Canadians still subscribe to cable/satellite channel providers – the same as 2011 and 2012. On average, Canadians continue to watch 26 to 28 hours a week of “traditional” TV.

- Rather than cord-cutting (unsubscribing to cable TV), Canadians are cord-stacking (adding subscription based video-on-demand services and premium cable offerings).