Canada could fall behind the pack in e-business

The results of a national study to determine the importance of technology to Canadian business reveals that while Canadians acknowledge the role of IT, many admit their organization is struggling to apply IT successfully.

The Canada IT Issues Study, a nation-wide survey, was conducted to give Canada’s IT managers the opportunity to see how the Canadian IT industry stacks up as a whole and was a collaboration between Athabasca University and LTI’s (Laurentian Technomedia Inc.) CIO Canada magazine.

“What we found was that we are spending our money on the right projects, but not doing a good job on maintaining those projects, and that we are poorly maintaining change,” said John Pickett, LTI’s editor-in-chief.

For example, the survey results indicate that while 60 per cent of respondents agreed their organization typically invests in IT projects that have demonstrable business value, only 34 per cent agreed their organization practices good project management, while another 31 per cent disagreed that their organization practised good project management.

Organizational senior management did not emerge unscathed from the survey results, as only 36 per cent of respondents agreed their senior managers understood the project management issues involved in IT, with 33 per cent of respondents disagreeing with that statement.

Pickett said the study results demonstrate that while IT’s importance to the corporate strategy has increased much faster than other functional areas within organizations (according to 58 per cent of the study’s respondents), Canada is failing to capitalize on the productivity gains that are expected when IT is introduced into an organization’s operations. He said the problem points to a lack of proper implementation and adoption of IT to meet organizational needs and the requirements of today’s workers.

The results reveal that Canadian organizations’ inability to successfully integrate the changes to the workplace created through the introduction of IT is creating a higher stress level among those in the workplace. For example, 37 per cent of respondents disagreed that their organization manages the introduction of change brought about by IT very well, while 27 per cent agreed.

Meanwhile, 43 per cent of respondents disagreed that the changing focus of jobs to include work telecommuting, e-mail and the use of computers has little or no negative impact on employees’ skills in dealing with people and only 32 per cent agreed.

In regards to stress levels, 55 per cent of respondents disagreed that IT has not increased the stress level of employees as opposed to only 20 per cent in agreement.

The importance of this study is that the respondents work in IT, and the poll represents how the senior managers view the industry’s position, Pickett said. “These are people who are really in the know.”

The survey began in October of last year when 44,748 e-mail invitations were sent to subscribers of CIO Canada, and to senior management subscribers of the magazine’s sister publications.

Each e-mail invited the recipient to click an embedded URL link that would allow them to participate in an on-line Web survey found on the SurveySite server. Once the respondent completed and submitted the questionnaire, the data was collected and analysed.

A total of 3,195 responses were obtained for the study. Statistically, a sample size of 3,195 will produce results that are considered accurate to within plus or minus 1.73 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Peter Carr, associate director of Athabasca University’s Centre for Innovative Management, said in a statement that the prosperity of Canada’s economy in upcoming years would depend on its ability to successfully apply information technology in business. Carr added that the study would help pinpoint those areas in IT where improvements must be made in order for Canada to remain competitive in the new world economy.

For example, while 40 per cent of respondents agreed that Canada is keeping up with the rest of the world in developing e-business, the same number of respondents did not believe their organization was properly exploiting e-business.

Survey respondents also thought Canada is lagging behind the U.S., as 44 per cent of respondents disagreed that Canada is keeping up with the U.S. in developing e-business. Individual Canadian organizations are lagging behind their U.S. counterparts, 45 per cent of respondents disagreed that their organization advanced at the same pace as similar organizations in the United States in the development of e-business.

For more information on the survey visit: