Picture this: 600 of the world's preeminent thinkers on small and medium business issues (scholars, policy makers, researchers) from 61 different countries, and little bitty me (ok, so I'm 6'4", 225lbs, which isn't too little given how much I love cookies lately, but I think you get my point – I'm the one on the left in the photo).
Well, that was the situation last week at the 2008 ICSB World Conference I attended in lovely Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The theme of the conference was "Advancing Small Business and Entrepreneurship: From Research to Results". The goal of the conference is to find a way to bridge the gap between research and action in driving small business growth and success around the world.
The International Council for Small Business (ICSB) was the first international membership organization to promote the growth and development of small businesses worldwide. I was part of a global dialog series focused on technology transfer and usage for small business. One thing is certain, experts from Botswana to Korea– and Argentina to Germany– recognize how the small business market is large, vibrant, and eager to embrace technology to manage and grow small businesses.
Here are some preliminary findings from the conference research I thought were interesting:
- 98% of the experts reported that IT is important for small business growth;
- 92% said that keeping up with the competition, with regard to IT, is important;
- 99% said that investment in the use of IT by small businesses would bring long-term benefits, and
- 81% felt that those benefits would be great or very great;
Also at the event, Kevin Peesker, Vice President and General Manager Small and Medium Business, Dell Canada, announced the 10 finalists from the Canadian Small Business Excellence Awards which honors small businesses that have used technology in innovative ways to drive their businesses. Each of the finalists will receive a Dell business-class laptop computer, and a national winner will be named in August following another round of judging. The national winner will then be considered from among 12 country winners for the first global Dell Small Business Excellence Award that will be announced in fall 2008.
In addition to all that fun, I had some of the best lobster ever (they actually even serve lobster at McDonald's up there). I had a conversation with the Deputy Head, Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs & Local Development, Head of the SME Division (I loved that title for some reason), and I had an opportunity to spend time with some of our small business customers to hear first-hand how they are using our products and solutions to run successful businesses.