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Survey finds just 10% of government bodies in Canada have digital plan…the announcement was made at the SAP Smart Cities Forum in Toronto last week. A recent IDC Canada survey of senior technology decision makers revealed that only 10% of Canadian public sector organizations have a digital technology plan integrated into their long-term strategies. The survey, commissioned by SAP Canada Inc., a subsidiary of SAP SE (NYSE: SAP), sought insight into how leaders in Canada perceive digital technology affecting their organizations.

The full report, due for release in March 2016, will highlight where Canadian organizations are investing in digital technology, where the gaps lie and how this could affect Canada’s economic growth. John Graham, Managing Director, SAP Canada, says: “The government has committed a $60 billion investment in Canada’s infrastructure, which could be spent in many areas before a long term digital strategy is in place. Cities everywhere are under pressure to do more with less. Looking at new, digital, ways to deliver services is imperative, as well as empowering officials and employees to work more efficiently using digital technology.” IDC’s report revealed four key insights:

  • 65% of government technology decision makers in Canada believe that embracing the digital economy presents a bigger organizational risk than not embracing it
  • 75% of respondents said they did not expect that making digital investments would provide a significant return on investment for their organisation
  • 25% of the public sector respondents believe the leaders of Canada’s governmental organisations are suitably aware of the implications of the digital economy
  • Only 40% of public sector respondents are aware of the term “digital economy”, compared to 60% on average for technology decision makers.

Susan Cook, Head of Public Sector at SAP Canada, says: “There is a global smart cities movement happening, which represents the largest urban shift our world has ever seen. Digitally-empowered cities are using real-time data to empower communities and increase liveability by improving infrastructure, urban environment, and the quality of public services. As an example, applying sensors to buses and trains would provide cities with real time information on their performance. Canadian cities are starting to make headway in transforming to become digital which will ultimately lead to better-informed decisions and greater innovation.”

Tony Olvet, Group Vice President, IDC Canada says: “The survey highlights the disconnect between business’s perceived benefits of the digital economy and their lack of an immediate plan to embrace digital transformation into their strategy. The public sector, like many Canadian organisations, is typically risk averse when it comes to technology adoption. However, to compete globally as a progressive developing country, we need to embrace innovation and drive the optimal use of finance, human, technological and physical resources.”

SAP Canada hosted public sector leaders and academics in an exchange of ideas and shared digital transformation experiences at the Smart Cities Forum at MaRS Discovery District in Toronto on February 10. Alongside the global VP of SAP’s Future Cities program, Sean O’Brien, a panel including leaders from the City of Toronto, the City of Mississauga, and the Toronto Transit Commission, as well as former Deputy Mayor of New York and Mayor of Indianapolis Stephen Goldsmith, discussed how they are embracing digital transformation.

John Graham adds: “Hearing from leaders of Canada’s public sector at the Smart Cities Forum gave me great hope that the most innovative government bodies are genuinely looking at digital as a major part of their long term mission. The percentages from the IDC survey may look bleak right now, but if we did it again in 4 or 5 years I would expect a significant shift, based on the forward-thinking attitudes of the speakers.”

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