Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

iStockPhoto / Getty Images

Canadian businesses are aware of how data can provide an advantage in the marketplace – but what if your data is inconsistent, incomplete or compromised? A recent survey on the value of data identified critical gaps in the management and use of data by many of the country’s companies. That makes data “Canada’s most undervalued resource,” according to a report by Deloitte, the global consulting firm.

The report found that while Canadian businesses invested approximately $40 billion in gathering, processing and utilizing data, the leaders surveyed still say that Canada is not data-ready.

Warren Shiau, Research Vice President IDC Canada, has also found that only 21 per cent of mid-size and large businesses have formalized policies and framework for data governance. And only 12 per cent have mapped their business processes against underlying internal and external data inputs and decision points.

“These are two critical areas where the Canadian market needs assistance in creating a solid foundation for digital process transformation, effective use of analytics, and implementation of AI solutions,” says Mr. Shiau.

So how can Canadian businesses become data-ready and create a healthy data strategy?

Data is only useful if it’s trusted and it drives smart and timely action. That does not happen often enough, says Dion Maynes, Canadian Regional Vice-President for Talend, a software company that specializes in data integration and integrity.

“There’s an influx of data that companies are bringing in and processing, but they don’t always have complete or reliable data,” says Mr. Maynes. “This could result in disastrous decisions that could cause a business to fail or even worse, cost lives.”

A company might have thousands of data sources. The challenge, explains Mr. Maynes, is making sense of it all.

Today, companies can measure every facet of their business health, except the health of their data. That’s a huge shortcoming. It’s data that feeds into business-critical decisions, from identifying new paths to market, to developing products, to managing supply chains.

For many companies, there’s a disconnect between the analytics systems, the technologies that are supposed to ensure the data powering them can be trusted, and the people responsible for it all.

A report by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services found that nearly 90 per cent of organizations say their success depends on data-driven decisions. However, only 7 per cent give their teams the analytic tools and resources needed to fully drive decision making.

In another study from McKinsey, only 37 per cent of respondents said decisions by their organizations are high in both quality and velocity.

Such results indicate that companies need more confidence in their data when making decisions. Measuring data health could include the quality of that data, what it’s telling the user, and whether that same data has helped inform successful business decisions.

Talend’s approach blends the best of advanced machine learning and human expertise to give users a complete picture of their data health.

What are the benefits? Covanta, a sustainable waste management company, enlisted Talend to help manage the vast amounts of data produced by its 40-plus global facilities. The company collects real-time data from sensors that measure factors such as temperature, air quality and steam pressure. Covanta relies on this data to protect its workers, maintain maximum uptime and avoid unscheduled outages. For maintenance activities alone, the company is achieving at least 10 per cent savings per year.

“Without question, data trust is a must when it comes to making decisions that directly impact employee well-being and overall safety,” said Charles Link, Covanta’s director of data and analytics. “Talend has helped us create a secure work ecosystem while minimizing both cost and downtime.”

In the ever-changing world of business, making decisions based on reliable data could be the difference between a corporate win and a catastrophe. That’s why sound, real-time information and actionable insights are so critical.

“It’s about bringing business and IT together,” says Mr. Maynes. “At the end of the day, the IT groups are the ones working on the data, but it’s the business people that are leading the strategic initiatives and betting their careers on using the information effectively.”

Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with Talend. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

Interact with The Globe