Government executives struggling in the information age

Survey reveals lack of leadership, organizational politics as two of the biggest barriers to improvement

TORONTO, July 14 /CNW/ - An overwhelming majority of Canadian government executives (96 per cent) agree it is important to have access to information in order to make effective business decisions but say they are hamstrung by organizational politics and a lack of leadership in their efforts to make better use of information, according to a SAS/Leger Marketing executive survey released today.

Forty-four per cent of government executives say organizational politics is a barrier to improving the use of information for competitive advantage. The national average is 29 per cent. Additionally, more than a third (39 per cent) of government executives cite a lack of leadership from decision makers as a major reason why they are not using technology to better manage information. This compares to a national average of 27 per cent.

"Given the amount of data they have at their disposal, it is critical that government executives have the right tools in place to gain value from it," said Jean-François Ouellet, associate professor, Department of Marketing at University of Montreal's HEC Montreal business school. "What these results show is that when it comes to using information effectively government is not only far behind almost every other industry, it is also fighting needless internal battles just trying to play catch-up."

For example, in the legal and real estate sectors, less than half as many executives (21 per cent) say organizational politics is a barrier to using data for competitive advantage. In the financial sector, lack of leadership is cited by only 21 per cent of respondents.

Not surprisingly, given the hurdles they face, government executives are also the least satisfied among Canadian executives when it comes to the quality of the information they have.

An alarming 15 per cent say the information about their department or business performance is rarely accurate. This compares to six per cent nationally. In some industries, including education, advertising, manufacturing and retail only four per cent of the executives say information is rarely accurate.

Things didn't fare much better when asked if their information is easy to understand. Fourteen per cent of government executives say their information is rarely easy to understand. This compares to six per cent nationally. Only one per cent of advertising executives say their information is rarely easy to understand.

"It is just as critical for government executives to have faith in the information they use as it is in the private sector," Ouellet said. "There is too much information facing executives today for them not to have technology in place to help manage it."

Government executives are also far less likely to have a positive impression of the information they use.

Not too accurate, useful or timely

    
     -  13 per cent of government executives (20 per cent nationally) say the
        data they receive is always accurate.

     -  8 per cent of government executives (18 per cent nationally) say the
        data they receive is always easy to understand.

     -  11 per cent of government executives (23 per cent nationally) say
        their data is always useful

     -  5 per cent of government executives (14 per cent nationally) say
        their information is always timely.
    

Lack of leadership notwithstanding, government executives say they just plain aren't spending enough on business analytics technology (the software designed to better manage and understand information). Sixty one per cent say their organization does not spend enough, this compared to less than half nationally (48 per cent). In retail this number was significantly lower - just 38 per cent.

"If there is an industry that really should have its act together when it comes to information management, it is government," said Cameron Dow, Vice President, Marketing with SAS Canada. "If information is power, I'm not too sure they have it right now."

Silver lining

Government executives, however, realize there is a problem. While 96 per cent (which was also the national average) did say it is important for them to have access to information, 62 per cent agree that data is the most underutilized asset in their organization. The national average is 53 per cent.

"It is disturbing to see how dissatisfied government executives are with data quality," Dow said. "If there is one silver lining that can be gained from all of this it is that they understand they are not using information effectively."

About the Survey

The online survey was conducted for SAS Canada by Leger Marketing, the largest independent Market Research Company in Canada, between March 3rd and March 26th, 2010, with a representative sample of 1,022 senior-level business decision makers. This method simulates a probability sample which would yield a maximum margin of error of +/-3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

About SAS

SAS is the leader in business analytics (http://www.sas.com/businessanalytics/) software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. Through innovative solutions delivered within an integrated framework, SAS helps customers at more than 45,000 sites improve performance and deliver value by making better decisions faster. Since 1976 SAS has been giving customers around the world THE POWER TO KNOW(R).

The Canadian subsidiary of SAS has been in operation for 22 years. Headquartered in Toronto, SAS employs 263 people across the country at its Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec City and Montréal offices. www.sas.com

SAS and all other SAS Institute Inc. product or service names are registered trademarks or trademarks of SAS Institute Inc. in the USA and other countries. (R) indicates USA registration. Other brand and product names are trademarks of their respective companies. Copyright (C) 2010 SAS Institute Inc. All rights reserved.

SOURCE SAS Canada

For further information: For further information: Editorial Contact: Suzanne Sprajcar, Suzanne.sprajcar@sas.com, 416-307-4634, Visit the SAS Press Center, www.sas.com/presscenter

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