Your next big thing: Sector report

Written by Tina Pittaway


Ira Kalish, Director,
Consumer Business, Deloitte Research, Los Angeles

“Products that meet the needs of older boomers will be a good bet longer term, and that could include making technologies easier to use for older people. That could be cellphones with bigger buttons or websites designed to more easily accommodate the needs of the elderly. Another area with growth potential is athletic equipment geared towards older consumers — lighter bicycles or gym equipment that isn’t designed for a 25-year-old. And there aren’t a lot of stores targeted to the older shopper, but there is an opportunity because people over the age of 60 on average spend more on clothing than younger people because they have more money. They’re not as eager to get the latest fashions — they want to dress themselves in clothes that are presentable and comfortable. It’s an area that presents a lot of opportunity.”

Health Care

Joe Flower, Co-author, The 21st Century Health Care Leader, CEO,
Imagine What If Inc., Sausalito, Calif.

“Personal health coaches or health-care advisors offer opportunities. Just as there are financial advisors for those with money, health coaches offer plans and educate their clients. And since the health-care sector is becoming more and more complex and decisions for individuals will become more and more overwhelming, these advisors will step in to meet the demand for advice. People who are trying to figure out if they should go overseas for surgery, for instance. What are the risks? Where is it being offered and at what cost? Advisors do the research for you and help you see your options. That’s growing more and more.”


Michael Atkinson, President,
Canadian Construction Association, Ottawa

“One area that’s burgeoning is anything to do with green building and sustainable building. It’s more than energy efficiency; these are buildings that will offer a more friendly environment for people, as well as leave less of an environmental footprint through the whole life cycle of the building — not just in ough to demolition. That’s becoming a big deal, because buildings are the biggest single contributor to greenhouse gases. There’s a term around now that just didn’t exist 15 years ago: construction-waste diversion. It’s the ability to reuse materials instead of all this stuff just going into landfills. And there are businesses now to serve this niche. It’s a new market that will see a lot of growth in the coming years.”


Jayson Myers, President,
Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, Ottawa

“Some of the biggest opportunities in manufacturing are a reflection of some of the biggest challenges. The dollar is a huge challenge. What it means for manufacturers is they will need to be more specialized and customized in their product lines, but in a cost-competitive way. That’s the key area where there’s pressure, but it’s also where the opportunity is as well. In North America, this is the direction manufacturers have to go. Because, frankly, you can get low-cost product manufactured anywhere in the world. So, what we have to manufacture in Canada is the higher-value-added product and service. And what adds value is the degree of customization, the degree of engineering. So, technology and service is becoming extremely important. Companies that really understand what their customers value have an edge.”

Business services

John Simke, President,
Centre for Outsourcing Research and Education, Toronto

“Small and mid-sized companies are increasingly willing to pay for the expert services of a few individuals on an outsourced basis. Anyone who offers solutions in outsourcing to service the growing demand for IT, for example, is well-positioned moving ahead. Another area is finance and accounting. It’s even getting to the point where organi­zations want to outsource the CFO position, because they can tap an individual with a much higher degree of skills than they could afford for a full-time CFO. There are also increasing opportunities for third-party logistic providers. Supply chains and logistics are coming on really strong. Lots of companies just don’t want or can’t handle the headaches involved in this area of their business.”


Olav Sorenson
Jeffrey S. Skoll Chair in Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship,
Professor of Strategic Management, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

“A big area in software is applications that can help reduce medical costs. As the population ages, there will be constant and increasing pressure to do more with the same amount of money. So, there are lots of things that software can do to increase the efficiency of the process: better tracking of records, better targeting of therapies to patients or changing ways that existing technologies are used. For example, if you add new software to a hospital’s existing MRI machine, it can generate more informative images. For any companies that can offer new software applications to be run on existing hardware, the possibilities are there.”

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