There’s a disconnect in how data is viewed in the business because while Canadian execs demand more and faster access to data, they don’t see data as anything more than a mere consequence of doing business.

A new global study by Seattle, Wash.-based software vendor Avanade Inc. found that 81 per cent of respondents complained of lack of fast access to information to do their jobs, yet “at the same time, they’re saying, ‘Its somewhat strategic,’” said Dean Olmstead, senior vice-president of Avanade’s Canadian operations.

 

Olmstead was referencing the same study that revealed less than half of respondents found any value for the business in that data, despite the obvious exponential growth in information and the accordant pressure to keep up with it.

But the study did find that execs acknowledge that this data deluge fundamentally alters how their business operates, with 70 per cent of Canadian respondents recognizing this impact.

While the study didn’t investigate exactly how respondents felt their businesses had changed, Olmstead said it likely had to do with an increase in the number of channels producing data such as the Web, mobile devices, as well as more departments within the business.

“Now you’re talking about consumers, all customers, all partners, all employees are in some way creating data,” said Olmstead.

The study also found that 65 per cent of Canadian respondents are overwhelmed by the amount of data their organization must manage. Regarding the type of data perceived to be important, 76 per cent of Canadian respondents cited customer relationship management tools as the vehicle that will help drive revenue.

The study also found that 65 per cent of Canadian respondents are overwhelmed by the amount of data their organization must manage. Regarding the type of data perceived to be important, 76 per cent of Canadian respondents cited customer relationship management tools as the vehicle that will help drive revenue.

Olmstead said the difference between ‘searching’ and ‘finding’ is what outlines the core problem in data management. “It’s easy to search,” he said. “It’s hard to find what you’re getting at.”

Olmstead suggests several steps towards reaping business value out of that mass of data. First, identify the data’s location, who creates it and the formats in which it exists. Then, filter the data for key information that will help make solid business decisions. His last point pertains to the IT department who must distribute that data to those who need it to do their jobs.

“Otherwise, you’re just staring at your data and trying to play catch up,” said Olmstead.

Barry Cousins, senior research analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group Ltd., agreed that execs are often doubtful that data can produce any sort of insight that is “monumental, strategy-changing.”

But Cousins doesn’t think that view is far off the mark. “They’re probably right,” he said. “What they should be looking for are long-term shifts in customer behavior and short term opportunities for better execution, pricing, and customer service.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau



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