The Hamilton Spectator - 2021-10-14


Small firms seeing a boom from tech



It didn’t take long after the pandemic hit for Ali Khan Lalani to start thinking of his pizza restaurant as more of a tech company. Shortly after the first lockdown in 2020, General Assembly Pizza in downtown Toronto started selling pizzas to customers at home using an ecommerce platform, simple advertising analytics and a dedicated team of tech workers. Lalani, the founder and CEO of General Assembly Pizza, said his business has already grown to 70 workers, more than double what it was pre-pandemic. Roughly a dozen of those employees work completely in the tech space. The company said it sold more than $2 million in product, including 300,000 frozen pizzas, since launching their e-commerce platform. It was enough to cover their losses from lockdowns in 2020. This year, he expects the company to have increased sales by 400 per cent, and Lalani has a positive growth outlook for years to come. Lalani’s company isn’t alone in its optimism. A survey of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) by KPMG found 92 per cent of SMEs are confident they have the right strategies to overcome short-term hurdles and grow their company in the next three years. Mary Jo Fedy, KPMG’s national enterprise leader in Canada, said digitization is a large part of why businesses are able to feel so confident, as they realize what technology can do to grow a company. “The last year and a half clearly demonstrated that going digital is essential for success,” said Fedy. Fedy said digital investments will allow companies to operate more efficiently, reduce human error and allow their workforces to take on more meaningful work. The survey found 85 per cent of businesses are investing much more in implementing new technology, and that more than half of businesses are prioritizing those tech investments.


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