Business executives are more anxious about big decisions at work than critical decisions at home that impact their family, according to a new study conducted by Oracle NetSuite. The new study, Unlocking Growth, which provides insights from more than 1,000 business executives in the UK, France, Germany, UAE, Benelux and the Nordics, found that 94 percent are overwhelmed by data when making decisions. Over a quarter are putting risk mitigation ahead of potential success to avoid impacting their career, and 21 percent rely on gut feel and intuition to make critical decisions.
“There’s a lot of talk about a changing economic, technological and political backdrop, but when you step back, organisations across Europe have an increasing number of growth opportunities if they can focus their time and resources in the right places,” said Nicky Tozer, VP EMEA, Oracle NetSuite. “To achieve that focus, organisations need to address the decision-making and planning challenges identified in this study so they can use data to adapt to change faster than their competition and unlock new growth opportunities.”
A Culture of Decision-Making Pressure
Executives across countries and industries are under immense pressure when making critical business decisions and as a result many are putting risk mitigation ahead of potential success.
- Most executives (78 percent) said they experience more pressure when making a big decision at work than in their personal life.
- Fears about negatively impacting revenue (40 percent), damaging personal reputation (22 percent), losing their job (17 percent), and adversely impacting co-workers (13 percent) are the top four areas executives are concerned about.
- Risk aversion is even higher amongst organisations that define themselves as high-performers – 62 percent admit they actively pursue risk-averse decisions, even in the knowledge their choice may not be as successful.
An Unhealthy Relationship with Data
Information overload, time pressure and a lack of trust in senior management is strangling the decision-making process and leading executives to default to ‘gut feel’ to inform their decision-making strategy.
- Almost all (94 percent) executives are overwhelmed by data during the decision-making process. Executives in France (99 percent) reported the biggest issues with data, while executives in the UK (92 percent) reported the least.
- Time pressure and more complex processes are also making decision-making harder. 27 percent of executives have had less time to focus on critical decisions in the last year and 28 percent note more people have become involved in the process, an issue that was particularly prevalent in the UAE (51 percent).
- Only 19 percent – falling to 12 percent in the Nordics – of business executives noted they trust senior management when seeking decision-making guidance. Colleagues (39 percent) and industry peers (21 percent) were the most trusted.
- 41 percent of respondents expect to turn to a robot as a source of support when making critical decisions in the next year. Executives in France (51 percent) were the most likely, while executives in the UK (33 percent) were the least.
- 67 percent acknowledge they are not making highly data-driven decisions, with UK executives (73 percent) the most likely to only partially consider data or default to “gut feel”.
A Positive Outlook for Growth and Message to Senior Management
Executives across countries and industries expect their organisations to grow, but highlighted the need to rethink the planning process to ensure data can be used to adjust business plans and that everyone is working towards a clear plan for success.
- 56 percent of executives expect their business to grow in the next two years. Executives from the UK were the most positive (63 percent) followed by the United Arab Emirates (57 percent), Germany (56 percent), Nordics (54 percent), Benelux (50 percent) and France (49 percent).
- Retail industry executives (33 percent) were the most confident that their organisations will exceed growth targets followed by manufacturing (27 percent), distribution (22 percent), and software and technology (29 percent). Executives in professional services (16 percent) and nonprofit organisations (11 percent) had the least confidence.
- Almost three quarters (74 percent) of executives say their organisation is good at capitalising on new opportunities, but there are serious concerns about the planning process. Only 31 percent say they are proficient at adjusting business plans based on data analysis and almost one quarter (24 percent) do not think senior management provides a clear plan for success, dropping to just 16 percent in the Nordics.
For this study, NetSuite partnered with Raconteur to survey 1,050 manager level and above employees. Respondents originated from the UK (300 respondents), France (150 respondents), Germany (150 respondents), United Arab Emirates (150 respondents), Benelux (150 respondents) and Nordics (150 respondents) and represented small and mid-sized organisations from across a range of industries. Participants took part in an online questionnaire and were surveyed in October and November 2019.
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