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Smarter data collection could transform how Canada does business: report

IDC expects companies to spend up to $21 billion on such projects in 2018, up from $5.6 billion in 2013.


TORONTO — A new wave of intelligent sensors, cameras and tracking devices is expected to sweep across Canada over the next few years, quickly transforming how business is done – much as smartphones took communications to a new level of performance.

The forecast prepared by IDC Canada and funded by Telus Corp. shows companies are prepared to dramatically increase spending to collect and analyse data on complex issues like city traffic flows, pipeline safety and health care.

Tony Olvet, IDC Canada’s group vice-president for research, says Canada is just beginning a period of rapid industrial-scale innovation that will have far-reaching implications for many industries.

“We’ve been able to communicate over phone lines for over a century but the capabilities that are in a smartphone far surpass voice communication . . . If you take that as a parallel into industrial or commercial machinery, that’s what we’re looking at today.”

“The ability to analyse, predict and make changes in real-time to a process . . . those are the things we see as new and valuable to businesses.”

IDC estimates that $21 billion will be spent on such projects in 2018, up from $5.6 billion last year.

Olvet based his remarks on IDC’s interviews with representatives of about 209 Canadian organizations that it considered a representative sample of large and mid-sized companies. About two-thirds of the companies had at least 500 employees. Regionally, the study included 90 Ontario companies, 69 from the West and 50 from Atlantic Canada and Quebec.

About 13% of the respondents to the IDC study were working on what’s been called the Internet of Things, or IoT, which refers to intelligent, controllable devices that are usually connected by wireless communications.

An additional 30% of the respondents were planning to adopt that type of technology within two years – often planning to make small, easy steps that provide a quick payoff.

Telus vice-president Jim Senko said the Vancouver-based company sees IoT-related services and technology as “one of a number of emerging businesses that will provide new growth for us and it will be meaningful.”

Telus is only one of the companies that has said recently that they are gearing up for the Internet of Things, which is machine-to-machine technology, and the Internet of Everything (IoE), which refers to machine-to-machine (M2M), person-to-machine (P2M), and person-to-person (P2P) connections.

California-based Cisco Systems, which is the world’s largest maker of computer-networking equipment, is planning to open an Internet of Everything Innovation Centre in Toronto, one of four locations around the world. It expects to spend $100 million over a decade on the initiative including infrastructure, technology, staffing and operational costs.

© 2014 The Canadian Press

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