Canadian Internet usage: 5 ways CIOs should use the statistics

The data on Canadian Internet usage in 2014 from comScore this week offered CIOs two surprises. For one, IT industry predictions are turning out to be true. And second, they seem to be truer here than anywhere else.

In statistics that were widely reported on Wednesday, comScore said interest in video and the popularity of smartphones and apps is propelling Internet use in Canada like never before. The company said mobile devices and video boosted the average time spent online to 75 hours a month, or about 2.5 hours a day.

Besides possibly fostering a sense of national pride in how widely the population is making use of digital technology, though, CIOs in particular may want to consider how they make use of the comScore data in their daily work. Here are a few ideas:

Make sure mobile-first makes sense: Although the four percent of Canadians said they only use a smartphone or tablet to access the Web, the desktop is far from dead. The numbers showed 39 hours were still spent browsing from a PC or laptop. Certainly anything CIOs and their teams work on today should include a responsive design and should think through the user experience (UX) for mobile users as part of the process, but a multi-pronged approach to delivering online services is still the best bet for the foreseeable future.

Adoption and engagement are two different things: As might be expected, comScore said apps account for much of the smartphone use in Canada today — 80 percent vs the  20 percent who still futz around with Web browsers. But as any mobile game developer could tell you, getting people to keep coming back to an app is incredibly difficult work. Most of the main apps used in Canada are probably limited to things like Facebook. Before you make an app, consider the competition not only for internal users but your front-line customers.

Mars will try anything, but Venus will try things longer: Men and women use the Internet and apps differently. According to comScore, men are more likely to use apps and the mobile Web, but once women are hooked, their engagement tends to be longer. This could be an important metric for firms that serve particular consumer demographics. If it’s a mobile site or mobile app geared towards men, for instance, there may need to be particular features or tactics, like push notifications, to keep them coming back after the initial interest wanes.

Account for the Millennial effect: Yes, it’s those aged 25-34 spending the most time online, versus those 50 or older who are averaging around 20 hours a month. That can have a huge factor on how mobile sites or apps are designed for external customers, and what kind of assumptions you can make about the learning cure internal users will have based on their familiarity with other online experiences.

What streams may come: You can be pretty sure all that time spent on video content aren’t Webinars about how to do their jobs better. Instead, streaming means knowledge workers can get access to whatever they want, whenever they want. Which is all good, but beyond the obvious impact on network bandwidth, it means any business content you film needs to be just as compelling, and when the time they spent watching other stuff online may require companies to rethink lunch hours and other workflows down the road.

Besides some ideas for CIOs, I shared my thoughts on why mobile and video is accelerating online use in Canada on Global TV. Catch my blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance in the clip below.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Shane Schick
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