overwhelmed by data at work

New Study: 95% of people are overwhelmed by data at work

A growing trend of ‘gut feel’ decision-making is hurting the bottom line and company culture as employees feel stressed by too much data

LONDON, UK—November 9, 2021

People feel overwhelmed by the amount of data available to them when making critical decisions at work, according to a new study by Oracle NetSuite. The study, which includes insights from 2,000 people across the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Benelux, Nordics and the Middle East, found that while people believe they have the data to be successful, they are overwhelmed by data quantity and some plan to turn to a robot or machine to assist in the decision-making process during the next 12 months.

“Businesses have worked tirelessly to get back on a sustained path to recovery and growth,” said Nicky Tozer, SVP EMEA, Oracle NetSuite. “But equally some have struggled, and it is evident that the businesses which acknowledge they have a difficult relationship with data are also the least optimistic and expectant of growth. With challenges and opportunities still on the horizon, the businesses that prioritise objective, data-led decision-making and properly equip their employees with relevant and digestible insights will be best-placed to thrive.”

Data continues to be overwhelming for the majority of employees

Despite believing they have the appropriate data, almost all employees taking part in the study felt overwhelmed by the amount of data available when making critical decisions. The study further found that:

  • 88 percent of employees believe they have the data they need to do their job, but only 5 percent of employees say they are never overwhelmed by the amount of data available to them.
  • 65 percent of employees say the data they have access to is not always meaningful, rising to 78 percent in France and 76 percent amongst those in supply chain and procurement job roles.
  • 43 percent of employees say they have data, but cannot adequately analyse it, and that this issue presents an above average threat to their business. This increases to 59 percent in the UK.

Intuition is on the rise and it’s hurting the bottom line and company culture

A growing culture of ‘gut feel’ decision-making is negatively impacting revenue and how connected employees feel to their organisation’s strategy and success, as the study found that:

  • The number of employees that believe their organisation has become more data-driven in the past 12 months has decreased. Only 32 percent of employees believe their organisation became more data-driven in the last 12 months, compared to 43 percent in the previous 12 months.
  • The number of organisations relying on intuition and gut feel to make critical business decisions has doubled (15 percent to 30 percent) in the last 12 months.
  • Only 33 percent of employees believe their organisation is highly data-driven when it comes to developing organisational strategy.
  • Organisations that are ‘data unaware’ when building strategy are paying the price. On average, these organisations were almost twice as likely (41 percent) to have fallen short of growth targets in the last year compared to others (22 percent).
  • Organisations that reported being ‘data unaware’ are also less expectant of revenue growth this year (43 percent) compared to the average (54 percent) and are also 22 percent less likely to have a clear understanding on the direction their business is taking.
  • Just 57 percent of employees working in ‘data unaware’ organisations feel that the decisions they make at work are impacting business growth, compared to the average (80 percent).

The decision-making process is stressful, and employees are seeking help

Working remotely has added to the stress and complexity of making decisions and people are increasingly planning to use machines or robots for help. According to the study’s findings:

  • The availability of information (53 percent), time (53 percent) and potential damage to their personal reputation (49 percent) are the top factors impacting employees’ ability to effectively make decisions.
  • Employees continue to fear big decisions at work. 74 percent feel more pressure from employer than from their family when it comes to making critical decisions.
  • 52 percent of employees said that when working remotely, being unable to easily interact with managers harms the decision-making process. This figure rises to 65 percent in the UK.
  • 52 percent of employees expect to use machines or a robot to help make critical decisions in the coming 12 months. This rises to 72 percent in Germany and to 81 percent for those working in startup organisations.

For this study, NetSuite partnered with Opinium Research to survey 2000 manager level and above employees. This research was conducted as a follow up to last year’s Unlocking Growth report. The respondents represented small and mid-sized organisations across industries including retail, manufacturing, wholesale distribution, software & technology, professional services and advertising, media & publishing. Respondents originated from the UK, France, Germany, Nordics, Benelux, Middle East (UAE & KSA), Spain and Italy, with 250 from each region. Participants took part in an online questionnaire and were surveyed in March and April 2021.

About Oracle NetSuite
For more than 20 years, Oracle NetSuite has helped organisations grow, scale and adapt to change. NetSuite provides an integrated system that includes financials / Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), inventory management, HR, professional services automation and omnichannel commerce, used by more than customer in countries and dependent territories.

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