In Silicon Valley, there’s a phrase among startups that they need to “disrupt or be disrupted,” changing their business models before technology puts them at a disadvantage. For Canadian businesses, however, a better way of putting it might be “boost productivity or perish.”

According to Deloitte, a consulting firm with offices across the country, Canadian companies face considerable challenges in adapting to the forces that are changing the nature of competition across a wide range of sectors. In a recent report called Age of Disruption: Are Canadian Firms Prepared?, Deloitte said a productivity gap between companies here and their international peers is largely to blame.

“While Canada is a leader in high-growth start-up ventures, our businesses fail to maintain their momentum. As a result, we have a much lower proportion of mature, high-growth firms,” the report says, adding that one in three Canadian businesses are unaware they invest less than sector’s average on innovation and productivity.

The urgency of this situation is borne out by recent data from Statistics Canada showing that the average number of hours worked fell 0.2 percent, while overall labor costs per unit of production climbed 1.2 percent.

Fortunately, the link between productivity and effective use of technology is becoming so widely studied that the next steps for Canadian businesses to take are becoming ever more clear. Here are just a few examples:

Make Productivity A Team Sport

The Deloitte report points to “collaborative and connected platforms” as an example of how business owners can harness technologies to boost their results. Cloud computing, the consulting firm points out, can extend the boundaries of a company not only among its own employees but can create communities of partners and customers as well. Think about how crowdsourcing could be used to generate ideas or test out products and services, or the way crowdfunding might attract investors the average small and medium-sized business has never reached before.

Close The Skills Gap And The Productivity Gap Will Follow

Companies might assume that most of their work force is already tech-savvy, but arming them with the knowledge to take advantage of the best tools has never been more important. As the CBC recently reported, 40 per cent of employees would get more done if they had additional training in how to use computers, software and even basic math and literacy. Research from the Canada West Foundation offers even more detail on how employers can prepare their workforce for the future

Avoid Ad Hoc Approaches In Favour of Industry Standards

Ryerson University’s Centre for Cloud and Context-Aware Computing’s latest ‘Transformation of Work’ report showed that little more than a quarter of managers understand how mobile technology can bring them a business advantage. The report suggests that while cloud computing can free data stored on desktops and servers and bring it to smartphones and other devices, the most successful companies make sure technology lines up with core business goals. These could include revenue growth, competitive pressures and meeting employee expectations. Get the strategy right, then apply the technology and you’ll start to see productivity go up.

For more ideas on how to encourage richer collaboration and innovation within your company, with the right tools to foster these interactions, download Salesforce’s free eBook: Employee Community 101: Four Reasons to Engage Your Workforce with a Community.