May 9, 2022 By Pavel Abdur-Rahman 3 min read

The data economy is booming. In 2021, IDC estimated the value of the data economy in the U.S. at USD 255 billion, and that of the European Union at USD 110 billion. In these and many other regions, growth in the data economy outpaces GDP. IBM has examined Canada’s particular potential for data leadership, with lessons for any other country hoping to compete in the data economy.

Will we get to CAD 1 trillion value of data in Canada before 2030? In mid-2019, Statistics Canada estimated that Canadian investment in “data, databases and data science” has grown over 400% since 2005. At an upper limit, the value of the stock of data, databases and data science in Canada was $217B in 2018, roughly equivalent to the stock of all other intellectual property products (software, research and development, mineral exploration) and equivalent to more than two-thirds the value of the country’s crude oil reserves.

As the world continues to rapidly change around us, ground-breaking opportunities are presenting themselves that will shift the fundamentals of how businesses, governments and citizens function. This shift will be supported by enormous amounts of data, regardless of the part of society in which these transformations take place.

See how Canada is creating value in the rising data economy:


What is the data economy?

The amount of data throughout the world has almost doubled in just two years, with growth expected to triple by the year 2025. With data’s unprecedented growth, important decisions will have to be made about how to use it; and these decisions will determine the commercial success or failure of the digital revolution.

The data economy is the social and economic value attained from data sharing. While data has no inherent value, its use does. When it is organized, categorized and transformed into information that can drive innovation, solve complex problems, create new products, or provide better services its value becomes apparent.

While data can solve critical challenges in our society, most of its value is inaccessible due to the siloed and fragmented nature of most data ecosystems. Governments cannot develop effective policies; business leaders are unable to fully tap their resources; and citizens are prevented from making informed decisions. Leveraging data to benefit society depends upon the amount of connections that we can form between contributors and consumers, among enterprises and governments. A prosperous data economy must be linked to intelligent governance, administered for the good of everyone.

Why does it matter?

  1. Citizens can assume more control of their data, ensuring its appropriate use and security while benefiting from new products and services.
  2. Businesses can customize their products to align with their clients and better manage regulations.
  3. Governments can collaborate on national and international strategies to achieve optimum effectiveness on a global scale.

And what can it do for you?

The profound implications of well-managed global data exchanges illuminate the vision of a better world, opening the window to myriad possibilities:

  • Fighting disease through shared research on diagnostics and therapeutics
  • Identifying global threats and reacting to them quickly
  • Deploying advanced applications to solve organizational issues, unlocking innovation
  • Harnessing data to promote environmental health, prevent environmental degradation and protect at-risk ecosystems
  • Coordinating data to benefit industrial sectors such as tourism or agriculture

Canada has the potential to create a world-leading data economy, positioning us to develop innovations that will allow us to compete globally. We have many advantages in our favour: a highly trained workforce strengthened by our skills-based immigration system; our government’s commitment to accountability, security and innovation; and our unique history, geography and public policies.

Our success will depend upon a collective effort to promote engagement and facilitate the transition to a data-driven economy. Together with its financial investment, Canada must focus on cultivating data literacy among its citizens, as businesses increasingly embrace digitized platforms.

Fast-tracked by COVID-19, investment in data science has accelerated, alongside the proliferation of emerging technologies. By leveraging the opportunities in the rising data economy, Canada can unlock a trillion-dollar benefit within the next decade.

Hear a European thought leader’s perspective on the data economy

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