By Andru McCracken
Big technology companies had projections for how the digital economy would advance but when COVID-19 hit this year, it grew faster than anyone imagined.
That’s according to Michael Daykin, a Prince George-based digital resilience analyst with Hubspace, who stopped in on some local businesses in Valemount last week to see how things were on the ground.
The rapid growth of the digital economy is great for big tech, but it is a problem and an opportunity for small businesses adapting to COVID-19.
Enter a new program called DER3 from InnovateBC. DER3 stands for Digital Economy: Rapid Response and Resiliency. Locally it is delivered through Hubspace. The consultation part is free.
“The tagline they use on the marketing material for this program is that it is intended for the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker… it’s for every kind of business,” said Daykin.
Daykin said when the program was developed on Vancouver Island, the surprising result was a number of businesses saved money, businesses had to invest less than they imagined to get online.
So far the program has been operating in the North since September 15, and it’s having some impact.
He gives the story of an artisan in Prince George who started selling crafts online, Daykin asked him what type of product was creating the best margins ie: making the most money for the inputs involved. The artisan said it was specialized supplies that he was getting direct from a manufacturer. Daykin said the art supplies weren’t listed on the artist’s website.
“The digital economy, by all accounts, moved five years in the span of about eight weeks,” said Daykin.
“Obviously that has significant implications for local business.”
He said the program was designed to help businesses move into or expand in the digital economy.
An example of expanding into the digital economy is setting up a website and e-commerce platform to sell to customers online.
Many businesses don’t even know where to start, but that’s okay, Daykin said. They interview the business owner and figure out what their needs are.
“We do an assessment of where they’re at and we produce some immediate action items that they can undertake, depending on the business and depending on the needs.”
Daykin said it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. In many cases businesses can make changes on their own, but in cases where they will need help, they try and line up the business with local tech companies.
The program is for small and medium sized businesses in any sector. If you think your business could use some help, contact Michael through the website: hubspace.ca/der3