The new year is ahead of us, and with it, new investments in software may be high on small and mid-sized enterprises’ (SMEs’) priority lists. To help firms create plans that aid in avoiding buyer’s regret, we surveyed Canadian software decision-makers to compile five trends for software purchasing in 2024.

Whether the goal is improving business processes or staying on top of emerging technology trends, many SMEs may be looking to adopt new software. However, various challenges —whether related to budget, integration, or training— can arise during the software buying process. 

In fact, there are many different aspects to strategize before jumping into a software buying project (read our study on the common approaches to finding the right software in Canada). To that end, utilizing tools like business intelligence (BI) software can aid firms in more accurately assessing their technology and buying needs.

To help businesses identify the right technologies for their operations and minimize buyer's regret, we surveyed nearly 350 software decision-makers in Canada. We specifically surveyed professionals who engage in a meaningful role in the evaluation, selection, and/or purchase of software within their organizations. For the full methodology, scroll down to the end of this article. 

1. Many expect business growth, but are unsure if the economy can match it

When asked to predict their company’s growth projections over the next 18 months, a combined total of 83% of respondents anticipate growth to some degree, whether accelerated or steady. This means that expansion is on the minds of over four out of five decision-makers surveyed, and research into new business opportunities is likely their next move.

On the flip side, while growth may be expected for most surveyed Canadian respondents, the economy may have its own plan. The top-cited external factor that could influence business goals is the economic growth rate in Canada (37%), which recently stalled. Though economies are uncertain by nature, recent inflation has also caused changes in consumer spending, which may make some business goals harder to achieve. 

How to meet customer expectations in retail
Shifts in the economy can have knock-on effects on consumer behaviour, which SMEs in the retail industry will have to adapt to. For example, a combined total of over three-quarters (76%) of Canadians use loyalty programs; is your company seizing this opportunity to entice returning customers?

For more information on customers’ expectations and advice on how businesses can meet them, download our latest eBook filled with research-backed insights. 

Other external factors that stand to significantly shape company strategies in 2024 are advances in technology as well as the general cost of supplies/business costs, cited by 35% and 33% of survey takers, respectively. Applying emerging technologies to business functions can create new efficiencies and opportunities, and there are many ways to do this using software such as robotic process automation tools. Faster, more automated operations also translate to time and money savings, which could be useful for offsetting rising prices when it comes to supplies.

Tips for SMEs
When starting a software buying journey amidst uncertain economic times, business intelligence (BI) tools can help inform strategies with data-driven suggestions made using both internal and market data. In addition, staying on top of your company’s finances with accounting software, especially those equipped with budget and forecasting features, can also help improve financial control and management.

2. Top business challenges in 2024: finding clients and training employees

While external factors may be subject to change, business leaders would likely have a clear enough overview of their own operations to predict which ones need the most attention. For example, some businesses may be struggling to stick to deadlines while others have trouble retaining staff.

The top challenges for businesses in 2024 as cited by Canadian decision-makers are:

  • Finding new clients (32%)
  • Upskilling employees (32%)
  • Managing projects efficiently (31%)
  • Finding qualified talent (31%)
  • Delivering quality customer service (29%)

Of course, some challenges may apply to certain industries more than others, and so will their solutions. 

In terms of software adoption, marketing and business intelligence (BI) tools were the two most commonly adopted types of software in the past 12 months for permanent use, cited by 26% and 25% of survey respondents, respectively. 

Client acquisition is high on the list of challenges for companies this year. To that end, BI software can help businesses improve the customer experience (CX) while marketing tools help them target and reach new buyers.

most commonly adopted software types 2023

Plans to invest in software typically require their own evaluation. Regardless of how exactly you consider investing in technology for your business, recouping your return on investment technology (ROIT) is generally a high priority. Interestingly, 54% of survey-takers say they expect to see their accounting and finance software demonstrate positive ROI within the first year of investing.

Now that we’ve discussed future projections and challenges facing businesses, let’s dive deeper into information about how to make worthwhile software investment decisions.

3. Over a third of those who regret a software investment blame unforeseen costs

Although 44% of survey takers don’t regret any technology purchases made in the last 12 to 18 months, a combined total of 56% regret one or more of their recent investments in tech. Considering this, software-buying teams should be on the lookout for product-related factors that could lead to a regretful decision later on.

what to watch/common regrets when purchasing software

Finding technology that integrates well with existing tools and staff processes can help keep digital implementation and adoption on track. It can also prevent a regretful software choice that can impact budgets (by costing too much) and reduced productivity levels, with both effects reported by 46% who regret at least one software investment.

Thirty-nine per cent of those who regret their software choice describe the financial impact of that decision as minimal and easy to overcome. However, 58% of the same subgroup say the investment they regret has caused a significant impact on their finances, which could affect their annual or long-term performance. 

To help SMEs avoid buyer’s regret when shopping for software, let’s look at the survey findings on how to pick the right business software solutions for your company.

Software-buying tip
Don’t become part of the statistics and overspend on your digital tools. Set a budget and stick to it with budgeting software, which can also track progress of the money spent on your software investments. 

4. Identifying the right tech is the top worry when investing

At this point in the year, company budgets have likely been set. To illustrate this further, our survey findings indicate that a combined total of 58% of firms surveyed will be spending more on software in 2024 than in 2023 (with 44% spending somewhat more and 14% spending much more than the previous year). As such, the stakes are high and decision-makers should be very diligent when investing in business technology. 

Wondering what to watch out for? According to survey takers, the top challenges to planning a software investment are:

  • Identifying the right technology (cited by 42%)
  • Security concerns (41%)
  • Staff acceptance or training (35%)
  • Compatibility with existing systems (35%)
how to identify the right technology for your business

Over a third experiencing buyer’s regret would perform a security review before future purchases

Security concerns are especially important to pay attention to when considering a new tool. Each application that’s added to a business’s tech arsenal creates another communication point for data to be passed back and forth between programs. Companies need to ensure that data is secure (especially consumers’ personal data). 

If special attention is not paid to an organization’s security when adopting new software, companies can open themselves to compliance violations, integrative incompatibility, and possible data breaches. Performing a security review before investing can help avoid these risks as well as buyer’s regret. In fact, 37% of respondents who have regretted a software investment say they would add a security review step to their software-buying process to avoid such regret in the future.

Keep an eye on software security
Vulnerabilities in your software fleet likely won’t be easily visible. Vulnerability scanning software can help monitor and detect security flaws within your organization, as well as suggest actions to remedy them. Once you find potential gaps in your security, fill them in and stay protected with cybersecurity tools.

5. 2 out of 5 decision-makers use ChatGPT to learn about software

With so much information to keep in mind while looking for new software for your business, it can be hard to know how to start. Let’s examine how Canadian firms go about selecting and researching new software for their businesses. 

To start, more than half of surveyed respondents (51%) sometimes create a list of potential vendors to fulfill their software requirements. A further 48% say they always have some vendors in mind before starting their search, proving most companies think a list of vendors is a vital first step.

It’s also important to actively engage with vendors rather than skimming their websites to get answers to the questions most relevant to your business. Over a third of respondents (36%) actively engage with two vendors and just shy of a third (32%) engage with three, building up strong comparisons to consider as the investigation goes forward.

27% of respondents who sometimes start with a list of vendors almost always end up choosing a vendor on their initial list. This means that a significant proportion of vendors who are outside the scope of initial consideration could still be in the running. But, where exactly should software seekers turn to find contenders?

where to look for business software solutions

Online reviews, vendor resources, and comparison websites are amongst some of the top-consulted resources during a software search. However, software-focused websites aren’t the only place to research digital tools. When asked to specify the websites that decision-makers used to learn about software, 73% reported using Google while 40% also turned to generative AI tools such as ChatGPT in the last 12-18 months. 

Takeaways for investing in technology for business in 2024

Software purchasing decision-makers have an array of resources available to help them choose the most appropriate tools. They also face a daunting task considering the sheer volume of tools available. To help buyers stay focused, here are some key points to keep in mind:

  1. The economy may be fluctuating, but your plans to grow can hold firm. Businesses should equip themselves to thrive despite possible business disruptions by using the right tech. 
  2. Remember that software tools can potentially help save money and boost efficiency in the long run. For those worried about their investments, monitor the status of your ROIs.
  3. Include factors like total cost, implementation timeline, and staff training programs in your research to avoid common pitfalls leading to buyer’s regret.
  4. Ensure new tools do not expose your software arsenal to cybersecurity threats.
  5. Create a list of potential product vendors and gather information using diverse sources, like software comparison websites, online reviews, and even generative AI tools such as ChatGPT.

Buyer’s regret may be a fear for some of those looking to adopt new software, but that doesn’t mean businesses should stop investing in tech. Although sometimes businesses don’t find the perfect tool on the first try, it’s heartening to note that a combined total of 97% of surveyed software buyers feel satisfied with their latest purchase.

Looking for business intelligence software? Check out our catalogue!


Capterra’s 2024 Tech Trends Survey was designed to understand the timeline, organizational challenges, adoption & budget, vendor research behaviours, return on investment (ROI) expectations, satisfaction levels for software buyers, and how they relate to buyer’s regret. 

The survey was conducted online in July 2023 among 3,484 respondents from the US, UK, Canada, Australia, France, India, Germany, Brazil, and Japan, with businesses across multiple industries and company sizes (5 or more employees). Respondents were screened to ensure they engage in a meaningful role in the evaluation, selection, and/or purchase of software. This article covers the responses of 347 Canadian employees.