The Business Development Bank of Canada study released earlier this week indicates that among more than 1,500 small- and medium-sized businesses polled in late 2021, only one in 20 are using digital technologies effectively.
That's despite more than 90% saying they invested an average of $118,000 in technology last year.
The BDC also says about 40% of businesses surveyed still don't have a website, with cost and cybersecurity highlighted as the biggest barriers to going digital.
Pierre Cleroux, vice-president of research and chief economist of the federal entrepreneurs' bank, says businesses that aren't online are largely invisible to the new generation of customers.
He says the research suggests businesses without an effective digital plan and operation are less likely to be profitable and attract investment.
Forum Research conducted the online survey of 1,559 Canadian businesses last November and December.
The polling industry's professional body, the Canadian Research Insights Council, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.