December 4, 2012
Canadian CFOs, CIOs may be ill-prepared for "big data" era, survey finds
Toronto—Canadian businesses are at risk of falling behind international competitors in the era of Big Data. A recent survey conducted by IDC Canada and commissioned by SAS, has found Canadian 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%) have invested in the technologies to do so.
The survey further finds 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. Meanwhile the challenges of data management and analytics in the intelligent economy are likely to overwhelm organizations that are not conversant with Big Data technologies," said Nigel Wallis, Research Director for IDC. "For Canadian organizations to take full advantage of the transformative potential of their data, they need to approach it strategically. 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."
While more than two thirds (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 4 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 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 – 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. Social interactions, mobile devices, facilities, equipment, R&D, simulations and physical infrastructure are all part of this. Big Data technologies, such as SAS High-Performance Analytics, are designed to capture and store, monitor, analyze and discover trends and patterns in near real-time.
Of the benefits respondents attributed to faster data processing, the ability to generate operational efficiencies was most important (52 per cent), followed by enabling informed decisioning (24.7 per cent) and improved customer service (23.3 per cent).
“We live in a data-driven world and the companies that harness this data are best poised for success,” said Carl Farrell, SAS’ Executive Vice President of the Americas. “Whether it’s helping run the business more efficiently, improving customer service and marketing campaigns, detecting fraud, or moving from making decisions on gut feelings to ones based on fact, technologies such as SAS’ high-performance analytics can transform raw data into invaluable insights.”
The survey, conducted in August 2012, included responses from 150 senior executives of organizations with more than C$250 million from across Canada. Thirteen percent hailed from Atlantic Canada, 18% from Quebec, 33% from Ontario and 35% from Western Canada. Of those respondents, 50% were line of business executives and 50% were IT. Eighteen percent hold C-level positions, 33% were VP positions while the other half held director or managerial roles. The survey was focused on financial services (33%), retail (33%) and telecom & utilities (33%).