96% executives overwhelmed by data when making decisions, Oracle NetSuite survey

Oracle NetSuite releases Unlocking Growth report.

Business executives in the UAE 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 96% are overwhelmed by data when making decisions. One third of UAE executives are putting risk mitigation ahead of potential success to avoid impacting their career, and 33% rely on gut feel and intuition to make critical decisions.

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.

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 UAE executives, 83%, said they experience more pressure when making a big decision at work than in their personal life.
  • Fears about negatively impacting revenue, 49%, losing their job, 23%, damaging personal reputation, 13%, and adversely impacting co-workers, 10% are the top four areas UAE executives are concerned about.
  • Risk aversion is even higher amongst organisations that define themselves as high-performers. 62% 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, 96%, UAE executives are overwhelmed by data during the decision-making process. Executives in France, 99%, reported the biggest issues with data, while executives in the UK, 92%, reported the least.
  • Time pressure and more complex processes are also making decision-making harder. 29% of executives have had less time to focus on critical decisions in the last year, while UAE executives, 51%, were the most likely to report that more people have become involved in the process, compared to a survey average of 28%.
  • 35% noted they trust senior management when seeking decision-making guidance. Colleagues, 35%, were equally trusted, followed by industry peers, 21%.
  • 49% of UAE respondents expect to turn to a robot as a source of support when making critical decisions in the next year. Executives in France, 51%, were the most likely, while executives in the UK, 33%, were the least.
  • 67% acknowledge they are not making highly data-driven decisions, with UK executives, 73%, 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% of executives expect their business to grow in the next two years. Executives from the UK were the most positive, 63%, followed by the United Arab Emirates, 57%, Germany, 56%, Nordics, 54%, Benelux, 50%, and France, 49%,.
  • Retail industry executives, 33%, were the most confident that their organisations will exceed growth targets followed by manufacturing, 27%, distribution, 22%, and software and technology, 29%,. Executives in professional services, 16%, and nonprofit organisations, 11%, had the least confidence.
  • Over three quarters, 83%, of UAE executives say their organisation is good at capitalising on new opportunities, but there are serious concerns about the planning process. Only 38% say they are proficient at adjusting business plans based on data analysis and 29% do not think senior management provides a clear plan for success, dropping to just 16% in the Nordics.

“There’s a lot of talk about a changing economic, technological and political backdrop, but when you step back, organisations in the UAE 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.”