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Canadian organizations should focus on extracting value from data if they’re going to remain competitive both domestically and globally, according to a survey conducted by IDC Canada in partnership with SAP Canada, both based in Toronto.

For the survey, IDC studied “digital front runners,” identified as those companies more willing to take risks and experiment with new technologies. Survey participants were from Canadian businesses with over $500 million in revenues. IDC discovered that these front runners are using new technologies like predictive analytics, machine learning, AI and Internet of Things (IoT).

Canadian financial institutions face a dual challenge of serving customers via digital channels and managing risk and compliance, the report says. Banks and insurance companies are continuously looking to invest in their mobile applications and financial institutions, on the whole, are seeking “value added” functionalities.

“Finance departments especially stand to gain from digitization, with a broad range of possible use cases across blockchain, AI and big data,” the report says.

Consumer-facing AI initiatives, such as chatbot services, are being designed with the goal of increasing the uptake of new products and reducing adoption barriers.

IDC predicts that by 2019, 35% of insurers worldwide will deploy artificial intelligence or robotic process automation for intelligent decision making. Also in 2019, IDC predicts that peer-to-peer transactions worth a total of US$6 trillion will be made worldwide using mobile devices.

“Digital transformation is a balancing act that requires both offensive and defensive consideration—you could call them ‘accelerating factors’ and ‘stabilizing factors.’ Accelerating factors are tied to enhancing customer experience, revenue, growth, and other indicators of progress; stabilizing factors help organizations manage risk, security, compliance and other hurdles,” says Tony Olvet, group vice president of research domains at IDC Canada, in a statement.

“AI and analytics have as much of a role in stabilizing factors like cybersecurity as they do in accelerating factors like talent acquisition,” he adds. “The greatest future promise lies in artificial intelligence applications. Internet of Things solutions are ramping up but are more industry-specific. We also see a lot of curiousity around potential blockchain applications, but its current usage is low among Canadian enterprises.”