Almost half of Canadian executives overwhelmed by information

Public sector executives 20 per cent more likely to suffer from information overload than private

TORONTO, May 3 /CNW/ - Forty-seven per cent of Canadian executives say the amount of information they have overwhelms them. At the same time, 96 per cent of the executives surveyed said it is important to have access to information to make better informed business decisions. These are just some of the findings of a recent SAS/Leger Marketing survey released today.

This sense of overload may in part be due to how executives perceive the information they receive. When asked whether the information they have about their department or business performance is useful, almost a third (31 per cent) said the information is sometimes, rarely or never useful. On the other hand, only 23 per cent said it is always useful.

They also had issues with data accuracy, timeliness and how easy it is to understand. Twenty-nine per cent said the information is sometimes, rarely or never easy to understand, 27 per cent said the same about its accuracy and almost half (44 per cent) had the same issue with its timeliness.

"In the information age, business leaders need their information to be easy to understand, accurate, and timely. Put these three together and it becomes useful," said Jean-François Ouellet, associate professor, Department of Marketing at University of Montreal's HEC Montreal business school. "If any of these three pillars fails, the system fails. If you can't understand the information it really doesn't matter how accurate or timely it is. In the end, it won't have much business value."

Public sector feeling overwhelmed

Overall public sector executives were 20 per cent more likely to be overwhelmed by information than private (53 per cent versus 43). Part of this may be due to the fact they were more likely to say that organizational politics was a barrier to improving the use of data for competitive advantage (35 per cent versus 26), that they believe their organization does not spend enough on business analytics technology (53 per cent versus 45) and that risk management was twice as likely to be a top business issue (8 per cent versus 4).

"Information overload generally isn't caused by one single issue, rather a combination of things," Ouellet said. "If information is not easy to understand nor overly accurate and it's being used to manage risk, which is a highly complex problem to solve, the combination can lead to overload."

Getting an edge on the competition

The survey also revealed how organizations obtain competitive advantage.

    -  Quality of products and services: 63 per cent
    -  Customer focus: 55 per cent
    -  Skilled workforce: 50 per cent
    -  Strong management team: 41 per cent
    -  Products and services innovation: 35 per cent
    -  Information technology: 30 per cent
    -  Low cost: 18 per cent

"Given that we live in the information age, I am surprised that IT is so low on the list," said Cameron Dow, Vice President, Marketing, with SAS Canada. "There is a massive opportunity for organizations to make better use of their information to get a competitive edge, and that includes producing better products and becoming more customer centric. Canada will find it self lagging the rest of the world if we don't start using information more effectively."

In addition:

    -  53 per cent say data is the most under-utilized asset in their
    -  81 per cent said their staff could do a better job of sharing
    -  76 per cent said they'd personally make better informed business
       decisions if they had the right tools in place to analyze information
       more effectively
    -  While 77 per cent said their company could operate more smartly if it
       used business analytics software, only 60 per cent said their company
       currently uses business analytics software
    -  Less than half (44 per cent) said their company was spending enough
       on business analytics technology
    -  Which department most relies on business analytics:
         -  Finance: 25 per cent
         -  Operations and manufacturing: 14 per cent
         -  Sales: 13 per cent
         -  Marketing/advertising/PR: 12 per cent
         -  Corporate management: 12 per cent
         -  Customer service: 10 per cent
         -  HR: 4 per cent
         -  Risk and Compliance: 3 per cent

For the complete executive summary please visit:

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 ( 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 and offices.

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.


For further information: For further information: Editorial Contact: Suzanne Sprajcar,, (416) 307-4634; Visit the SAS Press Center:

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