Fast Forward 4.0: Growing Canada's Digital Economy

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May 2003
Canadian e-Business Initiative (CeBI)


When we were both asked, just over one year ago, to be the co-chairs of the Canadian e-Business Initiative (CeBI), we could not have foreseen how successful this initiative would be in just 12 months. In such a short period of time, we have brought together some of the brightest and most innovative people from the private sector, academia and government to create one of Canada's most impressive public-private partnerships.

CeBI was born of the need to continue advancing the application and adoption of internet-based solutions in business, particularly in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Achieving this is not something that will happen overnight, but neither is it something that has just begun. CeBI inherited the tremendous groundwork undertaken by its predecessor, the Canadian E-Business Opportunities Roundtable (1999-2002).

In reading this report, you will realize that the spread of Internet-based business networks across the economy has contributed to the high levels of sustained economic growth and productivity improvement that Canada has experienced in recent years. However, you will also understand that despite some gains made by medium-sized and larger firms in specific sectors, adoption and use of e-business by the smallest members of the SME community continues to lag behind Canada's principal trading partner, the United States. This poses a significant challenge to SMEs, who are major exporters and are also facing increasing competition here at home. E-business will assist them to be as globally competitive as possible.

The CeBI team has done extensive work to understand the depth of this challenge and to find solutions that will work. Fast Forward 4.0 presents the effort and creative thinking of the many people who have dedicated their time, talent and enthusiasm to this initiative. The lasting impact and legacy of their ideas rests on the implementation of the recommendations for government, business and academia that are contained in this report. We would like to acknowledge the contributions of Joe Greene and Michael O'Neil of IDC Canada, and Richard Simpson, Sheila Smail and Andre Leduc from Industry Canada. Finally we would like to thank the many individuals, companies and institutions who contributed to this report.

Pierre-Paul Allard, Co-Chair
President and Chief Executive Officer
Cisco Systems Canada

Nancy Hughes Anthony
President and Chief Executive Officer
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce