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Sudbury's PACE Global looks to help mining firms go digital

Digital technology is here to stay Sudbury consultant tells delegates at Toronto mining convention
Néha Singh, a specialist in digital adoption, was a guest speaker at the Northern Ontario Mining Showcase held in Toronto last week as part of the annual convention of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC). 

A Sudbury woman, who is one of the few people in Canada qualified to advise on digitizing mining businesses, said only a small percentage of Canadian businesses are using their digital technology properly.

Néha Singh, the CEO of PACE Global, was a guest speaker in Toronto at the Northern Ontario Mining Showcase earlier this month. The event is part of the annual convention of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada.

Singh said the Sudbury-based PACE Global is one of the few digital adoption firms that works with the mining sector.

She told the audience that BDC Canada, a business development bank, completed a recent study that showed average small to medium-sized businesses in Canada had invested $120,000 in new technology.

"And the shocking part of the study is after investing $120,000, in 2020, only five per cent of businesses actually used the technology properly. So there's a real problem here."

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She said many entrepreneurs, such as herself, go out and buy new technology because there is the belief that new tech is all that's needed to solve problems.

In many cases, she said, businesses find the solution is not with acquiring new technology but in learning to use existing technology correctly.

"And so oftentimes what happens is when you're looking to buy new technology, the reason you're buying new technology is because your existing technology is not doing what you need it to do. Have you ever thought that you just don't know how to use your existing technology better?" Singh asked.

She said that is the key reason for the Canada Digital Adoption Program. The federal government is pushing the small and medium sized business sector to take advantage of the digital adoption program.

From the government's point of view, the workplace is being driven more and more by technological change, automation, and data-driven situations. Businesses and industries must respond to keep Canada competitive in the global marketplace.

Canadian companies are being encouraged to reach a higher level of "digital maturity" which will translate into higher profits, more growth, more innovation and exports.

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"And what we're looking to do, what the Canadian government is looking to do is they are funding $15,000, just to focus on developing a plan. That's what they're funding it for, to focus on developing a plan. You don't get to use that money to go buy new tech. You don't get to use that money to do training."

Singh said it is all to build a plan of how your company is going to leverage the right technology to do the right things. She said that's based on your goals.

"So what we do is we find the quick wins for you," Singh explained. 

"That is what the program is for. So what the program really pays for is for you to look at your strategic plan, if you have one. If not, we will establish one for you."

Singh said one of the keys to success for digital adoption is to make it like a commitment to health and safety.

"It's something you do every day. It's something that you integrate into your business five minutes a day. And it requires discipline to put it into your plan to do it every single day. But after three weeks of training supervisors to do that, and to check on the data and things like that, it just becomes part of work like people start expecting, ‘Oh, what are we doing different today?’ Because digital technology is here to stay."

Len Gillis covers health care and mining issues for