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The future of digital

Six predictions for Canadian entrepreneurs

2 men watching a woman sitting on a wheelchair and using a VR headset

Woman in wheelchair using virtual reality glasses at modern office. Photo by LightField Studios.

Today, entrepreneurs can build global digital businesses at an unprecedented speed. The
Internet, digital tools and technologies together also enable startups to compete with
established global giants. Startup Canada, the voice of Canada’s entrepreneurship community, has six predictions for Canadian entrepreneurs. In the next three years, we see technology transforming business in these ways:

E-commerce will force retailers to focus on the full customer experience

With the sharing economy and solo entrepreneurship growing, platforms like Canadian powerhouse Shopify will continue to expand. E-commerce sales will increase for large companies and small businesses alike, as businesses take an omni-channel approach to sales and hire talent with creative backgrounds to build great customer experiences (CX).

Meanwhile, retailers turned e-tailers will double-down on innovative approaches to engage their customers. Social shopping, augmented reality and virtual reality, customer service bots, BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick Up In Store), BORIS (Buy Online, Return In-Store), and voice search with virtual assistants like Google Assistant, SIRI and Alexa will all contribute to mobile e-commerce optimization. Consumers will be delighted with the mobile, social and engaging shopping experiences of the future.

As new cryptocurrencies emerge, blockchain will expand

Cryptocurrency is already changing the way private data are exchanged by financial services
companies, government agencies and even the medical cannabis industry. Bitcoin will continue to fluctuate on speculation and the number of upstart cryptocurrencies, such as ethereum, will continue to grow.

Cryptocurrency is a tool or resource used extensively on the blockchain network, which means
any buying, selling, investing or trading requires a blockchain native token.

Thus, as new cryptocurrencies emerge, blockchain will also grow, with Canada continuing to
play a leading role globally—which is no surprise, as Canadians Don and Alex Tapscott wrote
the book on the blockchain revolution.

Social marketplaces will lead on transparency

Canadian company Hootsuite will continue to be the platform of choice for central digital channel management. Digital social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat will vie for more significant market share by rolling out more robust online marketplaces, as well as social community and customer tools like video chats, live broadcasts, polls and gamified interactions. Companies offering users the highest transparency and data security will be the leaders in this domain.

Data integrity, security and privacy will dominate digital discussions

Data integrity, security, reliability and privacy have moved to the forefront as big firms sell data,
hackers breach data and “fake news” disrupts everything from elections to credit card data
transmission and storage. Organizations of all sizes will need to go above and beyond by developing anti-theft policies and following the best security practices to keep their IP, and their customers’ data, safe.

AI will become more pervasive and facilitate remote work

Canada will emerge as a leader in AI, particularly in cyber-security, fintech, agritech, cleantech
and advanced manufacturing. The Canadian government is currently making crucial super cluster investments in organizations like CGI, Optel, Aldo, CN, Next Canada and the University
of Waterloo.

Through Scale.AI, the Government of Canada will bring the retail, manufacturing, transportation, infrastructure, information and communication technology sectors together to build intelligent supply chains through artificial intelligence and robotics. These investments will help Canadian small and medium-sized businesses scale up. It will also help ensure Canada is a globally competitive export leader, with an expected economic impact of $16.5 billion and the creation of more than 16,000 jobs over ten years.

Practical VR/AR applications will transform business and human interaction

Freelancers and remote teams will increasingly benefit from technology allowing them to work
anywhere in the world using teleconferencing technologies, especially those with augmented
and virtual reality capabilities. With the right hardware and software, from companies like Sulan
, teams can have an entirely submerged VR experience by logging into a shared digital space to work face-to-face in a hyper-connected virtual reality. And more businesses will find new ways to use such tech in their day-to-day operations.

In the next few years, small businesses can become leaders in their industries by embracing the possibilities offered by such rapid and transformative technological advances.


Mark Burdon is a digital technology writer with Startup Canada and an expert specializing in
cyber security, AI, analytics, e-commerce and big data.