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Mind the information gap

Using data to better engage customers

The explosion of big data is revolutionizing business, but Canadian CEOs aren’t keeping up. While most think they’re good at working with data, the gap between the information they need and what they have still hasn’t closed, especially when it comes to data about customer needs. Half of Canadian CEOs say data about customer and client preferences is critical to making long-term decisions, but nearly 30% say what they currently have is inadequate.

Using data and analytics, organizations can spot growth opportunities from existing operations, anticipate customer behaviours and enhance buyer-facing interactions. Companies that best deliver what consumers want and offer differentiated customer experiences will grow their business and brand. Closing the information gap will help CEOs shed light on customer behaviours and discover new ways to create value.

of Canadian CEOs say data about customer and client preferences and needs is critical to making decisions about long-term success. But only 2% have comprehensive data in this area.


Q: Importance of data you personally use to make decisions about long-term success and durability of your business. (Respondents who said "critical")

Q: How adequate is the data you receive around following issues? (Respondents who said "comprehensive")

Recommendations for better understanding your customer:

Evolve your customer knowledge:
The more you know about a customer, such as their past transactions, interactions (e.g. which channels they use, when and how often) and demographics (e.g. age, lifestyle and income), the more prepared you are to offer them excellent service when (and however) they choose to interact with you. Think about customer touch points where data is already being collected and where new opportunities may exist.

Break down information silos: 
An enterprise-wide approach to analytics is much more powerful than one that’s held within a single line of business. This will help you better understand a customer’s journey and provide insights on how you could streamline and add value to the customer experience. Examples of adding value include helping front-office staff recommend a product at the right point in the sales cycle.


Turn data into intelligence:
Collecting data isn’t enough. It must be turned into insights that can enhance the customer experience. Technology plays an important role in this, especially AI, which will continue to transform service interactions in significant ways. For example, sophisticated chatbots can deliver detailed and timely service 24 hours a day and reveal significant customer issues and barriers to purchase.

Getting the human element right

It’s no surprise Canadian CEOs consider data to be important to their success. Half regard their organization as better than the competition at making data-based decisions, but a majority still say they would like more or better data in certain areas. In fact, two-thirds pointed to at least one type of data that’s important to their business but which they either don’t get or is inadequate.

When asked why this is the case, most Canadian CEOs point to a lack of in-house talent. And since most of them also see the availability of key skills as a threat to their growth prospects, now is the time to find and develop those capabilities. How can they attract and motivate the talent they need? The answer lies in balancing creativity, diversity and engagement with the workforce as it continues to evolve. Breakthroughs will come to those who master the full potential of data and analytics.

More awareness of risks builds trust

Canadian CEOs are keenly aware of cybersecurity threats, as virtually all of them say their organization proactively manages security and privacy risks when adopting new tech. They’re also aware that the public’s concerns about cybersecurity may be contributing to customer and client unwillingness to share information,citing that reluctance as a primary cause of inadequate data. Having a grasp on data security can help bolster customer trust.

Amid rising interest in data regulation over the past year, Canadian business leaders are thinking more about how they can not only comply with new rules like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation but also about how they can take advantage of them. According to our survey, 7 out of 10 Canadian CEOs say their organization is adapting how it uses and monetizes data. A data-led approach can help organizations offer real-time reporting, spot unusual or high-risk activity and quickly respond to breaches and threats. Looking ahead, measuring efforts to build customer confidence will be critical to restoring trust in society and creating a positive environment in which businesses and society can thrive.

of Canadian CEOs with inadequate data cited the unwillingness of customers and clients to share information as their main challenge to getting better data.

Key actions

  1. Accelerate your people’s potential: Technology can’t solve your talent and skill gaps. Attracting and retaining the right talent and skills are critical for understanding the changing nature of the customer. This includes teaching employees the necessary digital skills and cross-training workers to be comfortable in disciplines outside their own areas of focus. Explore new talent models and strive to provide a varied work experience.
  2. Use data to understand customers: Your customers have demands, but they may not be what you think. Harness behavioural science and data analytics to uncover opportunities to create new value through better customer experiences.
  3. Grow through secure transformation: Grow safely by building cybersecurity and privacy into the design of your digital and operational transformation. Use cybersecurity and privacy as tools to bolster customer and stakeholder trust and manage financial, legal and regulatory risks.

Key question for CEOs to think about:

How can you evolve your business through deeper customer insights?


Read more from the Canadian CEO Survey
Are Canadian CEOs doing enough with AI?

Most Canadian CEOs agree AI will significantly change their business in the next five years, but there’s uncertainty around how.

The transformation imperative

Canadian CEOs are less optimistic about the global economy and their growth prospects than last year. When CEOs lose confidence, it’s time to move ahead carefully and evolve business models and ways of working that no longer serve their organizations.

PwC’s 22nd CEO Survey — Canadian insights

Entering 2019, Canadian CEOs are experiencing an economic reality check. As concerns around geopolitical uncertainty and trade loom, they’re increasingly looking inward for organic growth and efficiencies.

Evolve or dissolve: A reality check for Canadian CEOs

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Contact us

Nicolas Marcoux

Nicolas Marcoux

Chief Executive Officer, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 514 205 5302

Matthew Wetmore

Matthew Wetmore

National Managing Partner, Clients & Markets, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 403 509 7483

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