New AWS report outlines impact of cloud-enabled businesses

Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are often unsung laboratories of innovation across the globe, supporting about 60% of the gross domestic product in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. In Canada, MSMES make up 98% of all organizations and support over two-thirds of all jobs. These nimble organizations with fewer than 250 employees often position themselves at the forefront of experimentation with cloud-based technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

AWS's “Realizing a Cloud-enabled Economy: How Cloud Drives Economic and Societal Impact Through Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Businesses in Canada” report, conducted in collaboration with Accenture, examines how businesses are addressing societal challenges as they transition to the cloud. The top-line results reveal MSMEs in healthcare, education, and agriculture sectors are expected to drive $9.7 billion in annual productivity gains and support 1.6 million jobs by 2030. That's equivalent to about 8% of total Canadian employment.

Here are six highlights from the report.

  1. AI is driving societal impact globally. Of the businesses surveyed, 77% identified AI, including generative AI, natural language processing (NLP), and ML as the technologies likely to drive the most societal impact by 2030. Businesses can use generative AI in numerous ways, such as assisting medical professionals in analyzing patient data and test results, or helping educators review curricula and education materials to produce better exam questions.
  2. Healthcare value is unlocked through better telehealth. By 2030, cloud-enabled MSMEs providing healthcare solutions are expected to unlock $4.9 billion in annual productivity benefits. These companies will support 29 million telehealth consultations, up from 10 million currently, improving access to healthcare for Canadians, especially the 18% of people living in rural or remote locations. Using AWS, Regina-based company Lumeca provides secure, virtual healthcare solutions that allow patients and providers to easily connect and communicate via phone, chat, and video. Their applications provide Canadians easy access healthcare, regardless of their location.
  3. Education services are more accessible with cloud computing. By 2030, 2 million primary and secondary students and 8 million adults are expected to access online education via cloud-enabled MSMEs, unlocking $3.6 billion in annual productivity benefits. With cloud computing applications, especially those powered by AI, education curricula become more engaging, personalized, and easier to access for students of all ages and stages. It will provide easier and more affordable options for students to access assistance.  For example, Learn offers free tutoring to English-language students in grades 2 to 12 in Quebec. The online learning program connects students, who otherwise cannot afford tutoring, with more than 200 certificated teachers, improving grades, study skills and confidence in learning.
  4. Harnessing the power of data to change the food equation. Data-driven, cloud-based solutions have taken a strong place in helping farmers deliver healthier, higher-quality food. By 2030, it is estimated that one in three farms will use precision agriculture supported by cloud-enabled MSMEs—this is up from one in six currently. Vancouver-based OneCup AI, for instance, provides AI-powered facial recognition, tracking, and surveillance for the cattle livestock industry and has been able to leverage AWS to expand business globally.
  5. Cloud adoption is still in its early days. The report shows that basic cloud adoption, such as the use of web-based email and cloud storage tools in Canada hovers at 49%. Advanced cloud adoption, such as the use of AI and ML tailored for sophisticated tasks, including fraud detection or supply chain forecasting, is far lower, showing we still have a way to go to fully realize the potential of cloud technologies.
  6. More collaboration and education are needed to accelerate innovation. The report reveals that cybersecurity, organizational culture, access to digital infrastructure, and technology skills are the primary barriers to cloud adoption for MSMEs. To address these challenges and realize the potential of a cloud-enabled economy, even more coordination between governments, educators, and industries is needed. Strong policy support from all levels of government is also needed to accelerate cloud adoption for MSMEs.

Along with the Canadian report, a global analysis covers 11 other countries including Australia, Brazil, France, Indonesia, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, United Kingdom (UK), and the United States (US), and uses a combination of publicly available datasets from the OECD, the World Bank, the Conference Board Total Economy Database, market sizing techniques, and survey analyses. If you are interested to learn more about the potential benefits MSMEs could contribute to economies and societies, read the full Canadian report and the global report.