Wouldn’t it be great if Canadian SMBs had some kind of search engine that told them what technology products and services they should purchase to help them grow?

The Digital Adoption Compass, which was launched a few weeks ago by the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), is a strong response to that question. It’s a portal filled with stories, videos and other resources that show how some Canadian SMBs are turning technology into a competitive advantage. Although it looks broadly at the hardware and software on the market today, it builds upon an earlier ICTC report, The Digital Adoption Roadmap, that broke out the different benefits technology brings to specific industries.

“In the retail and manufacturing sectors, there are clear benefits to productivity by adopting technology: mobile, cloud and app ecosystems can accelerate e-commerce, inventory control, and supply chain management among many others to help significantly enhance the productivity factor of many SMBs,” the report says. “Improved use of data and analytics offer the potential to significantly improve market research efforts by looking at customer behaviour.”

The work ICTC is doing ties in well with The Customer Economy: How Top Industries Can Meet Today’s Most Important Challenge, a Salesforce e-book that outlines the landscape, common challenges and possible solutions for those working in financial services, retail, manufacturing and several other sectors. Although the specific recommendations vary greatly from one industry to another, they’re all about spending more time thinking through what customers experience today, and how you could improve that tomorrow.

Why not combine these two tools and start 2015 with a plan that could increase the number of new customers and the overall rate of customer satisfaction at the same time? Here are the building blocks:

  1. Start with what’s true everywhere: Use the insights in The Customer Economy to get a global view of what customers expect, where the gaps are, and what kind of tools, process changes and other best practices could make a tangible difference in your firm.
  2. Hone in on what’s happening here: Dive into the Digital Adoption Compass and look at its case studies and tutorials about customer relationship management (CRM), cloud computing, social media, mobile and other technologies that could bring customer-centric strategies to life.
  3. Let customers take you there: You don’t need a formal customer advisory board to bounce off ideas. Just reach out to a few -- maybe the ones you’ve had the longest -- and talk about what you’re doing to enhance their experience with your company. If your plan doesn’t resonate, repeat steps 1 and 2. Chances are they’ll appreciate being involved in something other than just another sales conversation.

Remember: no one ever walks into a store and thinks, “I’m a retail customer,” or “I’m a financial services customer” when they visit a bank. They’re just customers, period. That, along with the fact that technology is becoming a key part of how they’re being served, is the one thing that’s common across all industries.