Business executives in the UK 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 92 per cent are overwhelmed by data when making decisions. A third of UK executives are putting risk mitigation ahead of potential success to avoid impacting their career, and 23 per cent 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 in the UK 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 UK executives (78 per cent) said they experience more pressure when making a big decision at work than in their personal life.
- Fears about negatively impacting revenue (42 per cent), damaging personal reputation (24 per cent), losing their job (16 per cent), and adversely impacting co-workers (12 per cent) are the top four areas UK executives are concerned about.
- Risk aversion is even higher amongst organisations that define themselves as high-performers – 62 per cent 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 (92 per cent) of UK executives are overwhelmed by data during the decision-making process. Executives in France (99 per cent) reported the biggest issues with data.
- Time pressure and more complex processes are also making decision-making harder. 27 per cent of executives have had less time to focus on critical decisions in the last year and 23 per cent note more people have become involved in the process, an issue that was particularly prevalent in the UAE (51 per cent).
- Only 21 per cent – falling to 12 per cent in the Nordics – of UK business executives noted they trust senior management when seeking decision-making guidance. Colleagues (37 per cent) and industry peers (22 per cent) were the most trusted.
- A third of UK executives (33 per cent) expect to turn to a robot as a source of support when making critical decisions in the next year – the lowest surveyed. Executives in France (51 per cent) were the most likely.
- UK organisations (73 per cent) were most likely to acknowledge they are not making highly data-driven decisions, instead only partially considering data or defaulting to “gut feel”, compared to 60 per cent in Germany.
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 per cent of executives expect their business to grow in the next two years. Executives from the UK were the most positive (63 per cent) followed by the United Arab Emirates (57 per cent), Germany (56 per cent), Nordics (54 per cent), Benelux (50 per cent) and France (49 per cent).
- Retail industry executives (33 per cent) were the most confident that their organisations will exceed growth targets followed by manufacturing (27 per cent), distribution (22 per cent), and software and technology (29 per cent). Executives in professional services (16 per cent) and nonprofit organisations (11 per cent) had the least confidence.
- Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of executives say their organisation is good at capitalising on new opportunities, but there are serious concerns about the planning process. Only 34 per cent say they are proficient at adjusting business plans based on data analysis and a quarter (25 per cent) do not think senior management provides a clear plan for success.