Canadians falling behind on business analytics?

New study suggests that the country’s organizations may be at a competitive disadvantage

Canadians falling behind on business analytics?
Canadian organizations may be falling behind their counterparts: at least if a new study is to be believed.

The Canadian Financial Executives Research Foundation surveyed 118 senior Canadian financial executives to find out which data analysis tools they are using and their satisfaction with the results they are getting and discovered that 79 per cent feel their current financial reporting and analytics tools only somewhat meet their business’s needs. Furthermore, 65 per cent do not have access to real-time reporting tools, while only four per cent of executives consider themselves industry leaders in financial reporting.

“Reliance on spreadsheets is symptomatic of broken systems, characterized by off line processes, redundant data, and wasted human effort in data entry and reconciliations,” said Arthur Gitajn, CFO, SAP Canada Inc, which sponsored the survey. “Today, when terabytes of data can be analyzed in seconds and accessed in real time on tablets and smartphones, it makes little sense to rely on static spreadsheets as analytical tools.” 

Breaking down the statistics by company size, 91 per cent of small businesses (under 100 employees) and 76 per cent of medium-sized businesses (101-500 employees) predominantly use spreadsheets for business analysis, however that number fell to 50 per cent for organizations with more than $1 billion in revenue.

“This continued dependence on spreadsheets today may be indicative of a lack of resources holding CFOs back from fully developing their data analytics capabilities,” said Michael Conway, president and CEO, FEI Canada. “Demands on businesses are extensive and growing, and real-time analytics can help with tasks such as forecasting performance, market research, profit margin analysis, risk assessment and management, operations and product pricing.

“The problem with spreadsheets is that the information is often not timely or intrinsically insightful enough. Larger companies are embracing live analysis and moving away from spreadsheets at a faster rate than small to medium-sized businesses however, it seems almost all businesses have yet to eradicate the problem of disparate and static data sets slowing down operations and adding to manual workloads.”