AQT Survey Reports on Market Conditions and Strength of Quebec ICT Sector
A recent survey of Quebec-based Information and Communication Technology (ICT) businesses revealed some encouraging results and identified some obstacles to growth and investment. SOM, on behalf of the Quebec Technology Association (AQT), surveyed over 650 Quebec ICT businesses with between 4 to 500 employees and analyzed the data collected from 495 of these businesses. The survey was sponsored by Canada Economic Development and McCarthy Tétrault.
Here is a summary of some of the key results from the survey.
- Most Quebec ICT businesses are currently growing. Of the businesses surveyed, 67% indicated that their revenues had increased during the last fiscal year compared to the previous year, and 86% of the businesses expected their revenues to increase during the current fiscal year.
- Exports are an important source of revenue to many Quebec-based ICT businesses. Only 27% of ICT’s businesses sell exclusively in Quebec, while 29% of Quebec’s ICT’s businesses have sales in Europe and 41% have sales in the United States.
- R&D positions outnumber sales and marketing roles. The survey considered the distribution of employees according to the positions they hold since the distribution of employees can have an impact on business growth. According to the survey results, 33% of employees in Quebec ICT businesses work in R & D, while 18% of employees are assigned to sales & marketing. These results appear to corroborate a commonly held view that Quebec ICT businesses excel in innovation but often fail to fully exploit the commercial potential of their developments.
- Quality management has become a common practice. A large majority of businesses selling technological solutions have implemented a formal process to structure the development of new products and services. Twenty four per cent of these businesses use a quality management method based on international norms (ISO, ITIL, etc.), while more than half of them use a method developed by the business itself.
- A shortage of skilled labour was identified as an obstacle to growth. The shortage of skilled labour was one of the top three constraints identified that may affect the growth of these businesses. However, immigration might be a solution. A third of the respondents which have a strategic plan are considering hiring through immigration.
- Quebec ICT businesses could do a better job in protecting their intellectual property. Eight per cent do not protect their intellectual property at all and 32% protect their intellectual property by constantly innovating, so that they are always a step ahead of their competitors. This means that 41% of ICT businesses do not use any mechanism to protect their intellectual property, either contractually, or by registering their intellectual property rights.
In the AQT report on the survey results, McCarthy Tetrault commented on the best practices that any ICT business should adopt to more efficiently protect its intellectual property assets. In order to consolidate its intellectual property assets and confirm ownership of its intellectual property rights, a business should make sure to obtain written assignments of rights from their employees, freelancers, contractors and consultants. In addition, employees should receive training on the nature and importance of each type of intellectual property for the business. In short, ICT businesses should not hesitate to obtain advice from intellectual property experts on how to protect and use their intellectual property rights to exploit their full fair market potential.
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