The Canadian E-Business Opportunities Roundtable is a private-sector led initiative formed in 1999 to develop a strategy for accelerating Canada’s participation in the Internet economy. The following is excerpted from its second annual report, Fast Forward 2.0, released Jan. 17. The full report can be found here. A year ago, the Roundtable reported that Canada was well-positioned to accelerate its leadership in the Internet economy, but not aggressively rising to the challenge. A year later, Canadian businesses, governments, institutions, entrepreneurs and consumers have still not capitalized fully or quickly enough on the e-business opportunity. There have been some encouraging signs of progress. Canadians have become more aware and more adept Internet users. Our population’s level of connectivity is still among the highest in the world and growing as more Canadians move online. Many large businesses that were cautiously watching the Internet Revolution unfold are now participating in it and dealing with consumers, suppliers and other businesses online. New venture capital investment has reached record highs for Canada. Significant changes in taxation policy have made Canada a more attractive place to invest, work and live. But many challenges remain unmet. Some parts of our economy have responded less swiftly and effectively to the call to arms sounded by the Roundtable a year ago. Too many Canadian businesses, educators and governments are still talking about e-business, but not enough are engaging in it. Canada must come to terms with the fact that there is no more business as usual. Globalization has become hastened by the Internet’s powerful reach and distribution capabilities. Decades-old industries are facing massive change, and new industries are rapidly emerging . Traditional value chains are unraveling, and entire businesses are being rebuilt from the ground up. This is as true for traditional businesses as it is for emerging e-businesses, and for small businesses as much as larger ones. All businesses will have to become e-businesses in some form to survive. Smaller firms missing chances Canada’s smaller enterprises have much to gain from the Internet boom. But too many of these smaller firms have either missed or chosen to ignore the fact that they are part of the Internet economy. They are watching bigger businesses vying for market share in this new economy and staying out of fray themselves. The real challenge for Canada in the Internet economy is no longer raising awareness of e-business among smaller enterprises but accelerating their adoption. The message is out, but not enough of these businesses are responding to it – and those that are responding are often not moving fast enough or far enough. The importance of e-business has not diminished over the past year. Despite headlines proclaiming the death of dot-coms and the cooling of over-heated technology markets, e-business matters more than ever. The stock market froth stirred up by Internet companies is masking a very fundamental shift in the economy. While much has been made of the sell-off in dot-com stocks, little has been made of the fact that technology is driving much of the wealth creation in Canada and worldwide. E-business matters more than ever because, as the Internet Revolution continues, the new economy has become the whole economy. It matters because the rise of e-business is escalating the competition for talent, capital and jobs across companies, industries and nations. It matters because governments around the world are racing to create competitive and attractive environments. It matters because performance of incumbent and insurgent businesses will determine how well Canada succeeds in an increasingly global and technology-driven economy.