DAILY NEWS Dec 5, 2012 10:48 AM - 0 comments

Canadian businesses ill-prepared for big data era: survey

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Investment in technologies that would enable companies to act on data in real time is out of step with the view expressed by the lion’s share of surveyed Canadian executives who say having that capability is important.


This is putting Canadian businesses at risk of falling behind international competitors in the era of big data, concludes results of the survey, conducted by IDC Canada on behalf of SAS, released Tuesday.

“Canadian companies are late and slow in adoption of technology capable of processing big data,” notes a statement from SAS, which offers business analytics software and services.

Read more: Insurers still not ready for "big data": Gartner

Conducted in August, the survey included responses from 150 senior executives, directors or managers – 50% were line of business executives; 50% were IT – of organizations with more than $250 million from across Canada. The survey was focused equally on telecom and utilities, financial services and retail.

Although 96% of respondents indicated the ability to act on data in real time is important, only 48% have invested in the technologies that would help their companies do so, SAS reports.

Beyond that disconnect is the issue of who is making decisions about big data. “Strategic data decision-making is being relegated to mid-level IT managers, rather than being viewed by the C-suite as a critical matter,” notes the statement from SAS. “By contrast, international companies are more likely to trust these decisions to the [chief information officer] and [chief financial officer], have a longer big data technology adoption track record, and [have] more defined plans for adoption in the near future of these technologies.”

Read more: Staying Ahead of the Data Tsunami

The financial services sector, at 36%, is the most likely to collect data on mobile usage, with financial services executives being more than twice as likely as other executives to say their ability to process data quickly is helping to improve the customer experience.

“For Canadian organizations to take full advantage of the transformative potential of their data, they need to approach it strategically,” Nigel Wallis, research director for IDC, says in the statement. “That starts with executive understanding and ownership of data as differentiator and an end to the pattern of delegation that has so far characterized Canadian technology adoption,” Wallis adds.

Other findings from the survey include the following:

  • 48% of Canadian respondents have adopted technologies compared with 76% of international companies interviewed in another recent survey by SAS
  • 15% of Canadian companies have no adoption plans for the future;
  • a quarter of Canadian companies place the responsibility for the data management strategy in the hands of mid-level managers compared with 4% internationally; and
  • 76% of respondents are using internally produced data, but other valuable sources have not yet gained significant traction (social media, 32.7%; web data, 34.7%; RFID tags, 26%; and GPS, 16.7%).

“We live in a data-driven world and the companies that harness this data are best poised for success,” adds Carl Farrell, executive vice president of the Americas for SAS. 

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