Canadian executives believe their head - and business - should be in the cloud

85 per cent, however, not utilizing the full benefits of new technology, according to new study from Microsoft

TORONTO, Nov. 18, 2015 /CNW/ - The majority of Canadian business decision-makers (52 per cent) said they are working toward harnessing the power of the cloud, according to new research from Microsoft Canada Inc. This represents a huge leap from just a year ago, when 90 per cent of senior Canadian executives surveyed said they were not familiar with the real meaning of the term "cloud computing".

That said, 85 per cent of Canadian businesses recognize that they are failing to thoroughly utilize the benefits of new technology, even though roughly half of the 700 senior level business decision makers surveyed believe such investments help their business stay competitive.

"We are at a tipping point – technology is driving competitive advantage for businesses of all sizes and sectors, but Canada's business leaders wonder whether they are doing enough to seize its full advantage," said Janet Kennedy, president of Microsoft Canada. "The good news is that this study shows marked improvement from last year. It highlights the need for more businesses to leverage the power of technology.  The cloud is no longer where we are going, it's where we are and businesses that harness its full potential will drive growth and remain competitive." 

The study, conducted on behalf of Microsoft Canada by Northstar, found that:

  • More than half of respondents believe businesses in the future will need to move to cloud-based technologies, however most have failed to move beyond very early incremental adoption. This is a marked improvement from a year ago when only 10 per cent of respondents said they were even familiar with cloud computing and two-thirds said there were "only just beginning to familiarize themselves" with the cloud;
  • Only 15 per cent of respondents rated their companies at a 9 out of 10 or higher when it comes to utilizing technology.


John Ruffolo, CEO of OMERS Ventures, which invests predominantly in start-ups in the technology, media and telecom (TMT) sectors, says Canadian businesses are failing to view investment in technology as an opportunity and companies like Microsoft have an imperative to help them reach their full potential.

"Innovation is no longer a virtue solely for the technology industry and companies such as Microsoft can and should help businesses find the solutions they need." Ruffolo said. "All companies need to embrace innovation in order to drive growth or achieve productivity gains. It's your choice - innovate or get left behind."

The study also found that while Canadian executives are starting to see the benefits of storing their data in the cloud, concerns about security persist:

  • 52 per cent of those surveyed said they had concerns about data security in the cloud, with only 35 per cent saying they feel their data is safer in the cloud. This is an improvement from 2014, when 65 per cent of respondents said they would not feel secure sharing sensitive information in the cloud, - however there remains a large gap;
  • Spending on security is very low, with almost two-thirds (63 per cent) saying they spend less than $10,000 annually on security-related initiatives. Further, businesses know they should be spending more – 52 per cent say they are spending less than 20 per cent of what they should be on security.
  • When it comes to security, 48 per cent of business leaders say when moving to the cloud they look for a partner with a well-established reputation;
  • Nearly half responded that they wanted a local data centre that provides them with control over their data.


"We are proud of the success our cloud customers are having, from enterprise-level operations to the growing number of startups and SMBs that are making the shift to the cloud and reaping the rewards. We want to empower these businesses to grow even further and faster, which is why we are excited to be bringing two brand new data centres to Canada in Ontario and Quebec."

Elsewhere, the survey reveals that the world of constantly online and connected devices – the Internet of Things (IoT) – is largely unknown to Canadian business executives, despite being widely anticipated as the next area of groundbreaking change.

A majority (53 per cent) of respondents said they are "completely unaware" of what the IoT is, with one in four (24 per cent) saying they are not clear on how it could impact their business. Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) call the Internet of Things a "confusing" concept.

"With tens of billions of new connected devices set to join the Internet of Things in the near future, the potential for innovative new business opportunities is staggering – so it's kind of a shock that the level of understanding of the size of this coming wave of new technology is so low," said digital technology expert Amber MacArthur ("Amber Mac").

"The new emerging giants – and the new disruptor businesses – will flow out of the Internet of Things, so smart business people had better start doing their homework," MacArthur says.


Mabel's Labels: The brainchild of four Hamilton, Ontario moms who got fed up with having their children's things get lost or mixed up with others, Mabel's Labels has grown from a startup to a mid-sized business with clients ranging from Hollywood celebrities to several professional sports teams.  Mabel's Labels ships its products to more than 100 countries around the world. 

"Growing from a startup to an SMB meant we had increasing problems with compatibility and integration on top of growing concerns about disaster recovery of critical systems like email. We needed to find a seamless solution that would remove our roadblocks to productivity – and found it in Office 365. There are so many added benefits that we didn't even anticipate we would need within Office 365 that have helped us collaborate, like OneDrive and Skype. Moving to the per-user license fee for Office 365 has resulted in significant cost savings - our finance team has estimated it's almost two thirds less than what we had been paying."

Kimberley McKay, IT Director, Mabel's Labels

NAV Canada: NAV CANADA, the operator of Canada's civil air navigation service has developed an innovative new tablet-based application called the Mandatory Briefing Application. Fully deployed to over 2300 air traffic controllers and flight service specialists across the country, the Mandatory Briefing Application provides important air space and operational information every day to help controllers safely guide all commercial and private aircraft through Canada's 18 million square kilometers of airspace.

In addition, the Mandatory Briefing Application is now being marketed to other air navigation services around the world to help improve safety and compliance to regulations.

"We went from a process that was mostly manual requiring staff to prepare and distribute paper based briefings and collect signature logs to receive acknowledgments that briefings were read, to using a robust, work-flow enabled cloud-based mobile application.  When we evaluated various cloud offerings it was clear that Microsoft Azure was the best choice for us
long-term. For our organization, security and reliability is everything. Our top priority is making sure planes are taking off, flying, and landing safely. The Mandatory Briefing Application helps ensure we do that every day and we are highly confident with our Azure-based application."

-  Claudio Silvestri, VP and CIO, NAV Canada

CAN Telematics:  CAN Telematics is a private Canadian corporation that operates in the Telematics industry.  They created the Trakopolis platform in 2010 to enable greater visibility and connectivity of remote assets and people to enhance business intelligence.  The company has 300+ customers who have deployed their technology in 13 countries, large channel partners and an advantageous recurring revenue business model.

Billions of "Things" will be connected to the Internet in the coming years. Their proprietary Trakopolis platform aligns with the desire of enterprises for solutions that provide flexibility, customized functionality and connectivity not tied to a single carrier.  They believe that their enterprise-centric focus positions them to become a dominant player in this rapidly growing market.

"We've developed a solution called Trakopolis that utilizes GPS tracking to allow our customers to monitor their fleets with reports and analytics. With a growing number of clients, an increase in cost effective storage and scalable processing power became a concern.  Moving to Microsoft Azure allowed CAN Telematics to unify and store our data on a secure platform that could grow easily and affordably. By using Azure's Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering, we no longer have to worry about testing and deploying server updates and can easily set up database backup and disaster recovery solutions, which are critical to our business."

-  Brent Moore, CEO, CAN Telematics

This study was conducted on behalf of Microsoft Canada by Northstar, a globally integrated insights consulting firm, among 700 C-suite executives in Canada.  Margin of error is +/- 3.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Established in 1985, Microsoft Canada Inc. is the Canadian subsidiary of Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq "MSFT") the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential. Microsoft Canada provides nationwide sales, marketing, consulting and local support services in both French and English. Headquartered in Mississauga, Microsoft Canada has nine regional offices across the country dedicated to empowering people through great software - any time, any place and on any device. For more information on Microsoft Canada, please visit

For more information on the study, visit 
Infographic highlighting study results available here:

SOURCE Microsoft Canada Inc.

For further information: Josh Tucker, 647-330-3749,

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