Canadian Manufacturing

Canadian businesses ill-prepared for big data era, survey finds

48 per cent of Canadian firms have invested in technologies to act on big data in real time



TORONTO—Canadian businesses are at risk of falling behind international competitors in the era of big data, according to a new survey.

Commissioned by SAS and Conducted by IDC Canada, the survey found that while 96 per cent of Canadian companies say the ability to process and act on data in real time is important, less than half (48 per cent) have invested in the technologies to do so.

The survey also found Canadian companies are “late and slow” in adoption of technology capable of processing big data, and strategic data decision making is being relegated to mid-level IT managers, rather than being viewed by the C-suite as a critical matter.

By contrast, international companies are more likely to trust these decisions to the CIO and CFO, have a longer big data technology adoption track record and more defined plans for adoption in the near future of these technologies that are assisting organizations become more innovative and productive.

“Organizations that have begun to embrace big data technology and approaches are demonstrating that they can gain competitive advantage by being able to take action based on timely, relevant, complete and accurate information, rather than guesswork,” IDC research director Nigel Wallis said in a statement.

While 76 per cent of international companies interviewed in another recent survey by SAS have already adopted technologies, fewer than half (48 per cent) of Canadian respondent have, and 15 per cent have no adoption plans for the future.

Mid-level IT managers in Canada are close to six times more likely than the international average to be primarily responsible for data management strategy, with a quarter of Canadian companies placing such decisions in their hands versus four per cent internationally.

Worldwide, chief information officers are the key strategy drivers for a third of organizations.

At the same time, companies are only using a fraction of the vast amount of information available.

An overwhelming majority of respondents (76 per cent) are using internally produced data, but other valuable sources such as social media (32.7 per cent), web data (34.7 per cent), RFID tags (26 per cent) and GPS (16.7 per cent) have yet to gain significant traction.

With big data technologies, analyzing these data sources is faster and simpler than ever.

These findings are particularly surprising, according to SAS, as 48 per cent of respondents said the speed at which their organization processes data has increased over the past twelve months, and moreover, more than 90 per cent of Canadians said the ability to process and act on data in real time is important to their organization.

This compared to less than 70 per cent of respondents worldwide.

Big data presents both a challenge and opportunity to businesses.

IDC estimates that by 2020 the amount of data created and replicated will rise to 90 zettabytes.

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

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