Data improves decisions but disconnect stalls benefits

The majority of enterprise leaders say data improves decision-making, yet a culture of gatekeeping withholds valuable information, according to a new report from Alteryx.

The survey was conducted by Coleman Parkes in March and April 2023, and targeted 2,800 senior business decision-makers, IT decision-makers, data analysts, and line of business leaders about organisational decision-making globally. 

The survey encompassed respondents from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Japan, including 150 respondents from Singapore.

While confidence and accuracy were cited as playing an exceptionally important role in decision-making, the new study highlighted multiple practices stalling the accurate and timely decision intelligence required to thrive.  

“Difficult macro-economic conditions demand optimised decision-making not just from leaders but across the entire organisation,” said Gari Johnson, SVP of Asia Pacific and Japan at Alteryx. 

“As organisations across Singapore continue to accelerate nationwide digitalisation journeys, our research highlights why data democratisation continues to be a lynchpin of successful digital transformation,” said Johnson. “It is imperative that business leaders empower workers of all levels to analyse data for insights if they want to thrive in today’s ever-evolving landscape.” 

Challenging economic times force business leaders to deliver the right answers very fast, but the current pace of decision-making is holding businesses back. 

This is making it difficult for businesses to make crucial decisions with the speed and confidence required, and 65% of respondents felt that decisions were generally quick and efficient, but the reported times indicated otherwise.

On average, operational decisions took two days, tactical decisions seven days, and strategic decisions took 20 days.

More than half (55%) of organisations responded that analytics, business intelligence, and artificial intelligence impact decisions making in their organisation, yet only 24.6% reported using advanced decision intelligence technology and analytical tools to currently automate processes and help to make these decisions.  

Sharing data has clear benefits for making intelligent decisions at scale, but with leaders hesitant to make it available, time-to-insight and the ability to react and adapt has stalled.

Almost three-fourths (73%) of enterprise leaders agreed access to data improves their own decision-making, and the majority indicated advanced technologies such as analytics, business intelligence, and artificial intelligence help deliver faster decisions. 

Yet, 66% did not think employees who make decisions for the organisation should have access to data for decision-making, and 17% felt data should be in the hands of senior leadership alone. 

Findings revealed cultures of data gatekeeping negatively affecting respondents’ ability to collect and analyse data and communicate insights across the business.  

Also, optimised decision-making requires real-time insights. The future of decision-making is automation, but machines will not be making decisions alone. 

Almost all (97%) of respondents indicated that they can imagine a future in which all decisions in their organisation are automated. On average, organisations believed that decision-making will be fully automated in nearly 10 years, with many believing that it will take longer.

Only 2% of respondents said that they think the future of decision-making will be machine-controlled, meaning that machines will analyse, produce insights, and make decisions without any human input. 

More than three in every five (63%) of those surveyed believed that the future of decision-making will be a combination of human and machine.  

“Isolated pockets of data and analytics access are currently hindering many organisations’ ability to gain clarity in a landscape of uncertainty,” said Alan Jacobson, chief data and analytics officer at Alteryx. 

Considering the benefits, it’s clear that data cultures need to change. Robust internal governance policies would help organisations feel more comfortable about cracking open the gates, giving more of their employees access to data—and enjoying the resulting benefits of advanced analytics across the enterprise.