On December 8, 2016, AWS rolled out its Quebec (Canada) region, called Canada Central.
Today’s opening of an AWS region on December 8, 2016, and the recent investments such as in-country delivery of Microsoft’s Azure, could kick start the innovation engine in Canada. For too long, Canada has scored poorly and lacked much of the influence and technology resources of other countries. Recent moves by the federal government to make Canada a more favourable immigration destination; allowing more fluid deployment of out-of-country workers; the emergence of hubs such as the Waterloo technology triangle; innovation centre efforts across the country by corporate Canada; and in particular, the investments being made by multinationals in Canada, move the needle in favour of Canada becoming an exporter as opposed to an importer of technology in the future. The establishment and investments being made by data centre and cloud providers are critical to the progress of innovation. The 2016 opening of AWS as a region in Canada (a region can have between 2 and 5 separate centres and 25+MW of power) and Microsoft’s establishment of a Canadian footprint, generates interest among Canadian business and IT leaders alike. Cloud platforms allow startups and well established companies to improve customer support, drive revenues and transform their companies. These facilities create direct employment and have a ripple effect on local economies. More importantly, they create a technology ecosystem that will expand and deepen over time. These investments provide Canada the tools we need to attract technology leaders from across the globe to establish a base in Canada and for our country to become a destination for immigration and entrepreneurship.
New data centres are not a silver bullet. In fact, Canada could do a lot more to draw more facility builds, particularly in the area of subsidies. But these investments, as well as transformational initiatives and innovation centres, are steps in the right direction.
Canada needs to go much further. While there is tremendous amount of capital vested in traditional ways, the conventional asset-heavy, people-intensive model will not work in the future. Companies need to embrace innovation, including digital technologies such as IoT, mobility, big data and cognitive analytics. Leadership needs to be committed to these technologies and not just give it lip service or celebrate a new app with a press release.
Canadian companies spend 70% of their IT budget supporting the traditional technology model, leaving 30% to invest in advanced, game changing technologies. IDC’s research found that the ROI on digital is 40% higher than legacy technologies. Furthermore, our research showed that shifting to a 60/40 model will increase corporate profits by 100 basis points. This is significant, driving C$1million for every $100 million in corporate revenue. For the average FP500 company, this translates to C$40 million in profit.
In 2017, let’s start with AWS in Canada. Let’s start with more investments in STEM education at all levels. Let’s have more diversity in technology leadership positions and embrace a culture of innovation. IDC believes that these steps will allow Canada to be more competitive and potentially leader in the global digital economy.