business decisions

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Can businesses rely on robots to make decisions for them?

When it comes to making important decisions, especially for businesses, making the right one is of utmost importance. And to make the right decisions, business leaders need to have sufficient insights. These insights are gathered from data and information provided to them by their teams.

Here’s the problem though. Decision makers, especially business leaders today either feel that most of the choices and information given to them are still not convincing enough or end up having too much data in their hand to make a decision. Hence, many end up taking a long time to analyze the possible outcomes of a decision. This time taken however may no longer be possible in today’s data-driven world. Any delay in decision making can have severe consequences on the business.

As Dr. Chris Marshall, Research VP at IDC rightly points out, business leaders in Asia Pacific are increasingly aware of the role quality data and analytics can play in uncovering deep market and customer insights, disrupting legacy business, and even transforming whole industries.

“According to the latest release of IDC’s Worldwide Big Data and Analytics (BDA) Spending Guide for Asia Pacific, spending on BDA solutions is expected to reach US$70.7 billion by 2026. Adopting such a data, analytics and AI-driven approach to digital transformation is becoming table stakes for regional leaders as they look to boost revenues and create greater cost efficiencies in the uncertain economic climate.”

Interestingly thought, according to a new study – The Decision Dilemma – by Oracle and Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, a New York Times bestselling author, society is feeling overwhelmed and underqualified to use data to make decisions. This is also hurting their quality of life and business performance.

The study of more than 14,000 employees and business leaders across 17 countries, including 4,500 respondents from Asia Pacific and Japan (JAPAC), found that people are struggling to make decisions in their personal and professional lives at a time when they are being forced to make more decisions than ever before.

One of the main reasons for this is that the amount of data is overwhelming for them. This is damaging trust, making decisions much more complicated, and negatively impacting their quality of life. According to the report, 74% of respondents say the number of decisions they make every day has increased 10 times over the last three years and as they try to make these decisions, 75% are getting bombarded with more data from more sources than ever before.

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At the same time, 86% say the volume of data is making decisions in their personal and professional lives much more complicated and 61% admit they face a decision dilemma – not knowing what decision to make – more than once every single day. 33% also do not know which data or sources to trust and 71% have given up on deciding because the data was overwhelming.

The inability to use data to make decisions has affected 89% of the respondents as they feel it is having a negative impact on their quality of life. It is causing spikes in anxiety, missed opportunities, and unnecessary spending. As a result, 92% have changed the way they make decisions over the last three years. 41% now only listen to sources they trust and 31% rely solely on gut feelings.

It’s all about access to relevant data for business decisions

Business leaders in Asia Pacific and Japan (JAPAC) want data to help and know it is critical to the success of their organizations but do not believe they have the tools to be successful which is eroding their confidence and ability to make timely decisions. 90% of respondents believe having the right type of decision intelligence can make or break the success of an organization. 96% also want help from data especially since it helps them make better decisions, reduce risk, make faster decisions, make more money, and plan for the unexpected.

Managing different data sources has required additional resources to collect all the data, made strategic decision making slower, and introduced more opportunities for error. Business leaders do not believe that the current approach to data and analytics is addressing these challenges. 74% of JAPAC respondents say that the dashboards and charts they get do not always relate directly to the decisions they need to make and 77% believe most data available is only truly helpful for IT professionals or data scientists.

Business leaders know this needs to change. They believe the right data and insights can help them make better human resources, finance, supply chain, and customer experience decisions.

The study also showed that collecting data and interpreting it is still a big problem. 75% of business leaders say people often make decisions and then look for the data to justify them, 74% of employees believe businesses often put the highest-paid person’s opinion ahead of data, and 26% of JAPAC respondents feel that most decisions made in business are not rational.

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Time to leave decision making to robots?

The situation is so challenging that 85% of business leaders would prefer for all these difficulties to just go away and to have a robot make their decisions. Despite frustrations with data in their personal and professional worlds, without data decisions would be less accurate, less successful, and more prone to error. In general, the belief is that an organization that uses technology to make data-driven decisions is more trustworthy, will be more successful, and is a company society will more likely invest in, partner with (75 percent), and work for.

“People are drowning in data,” said Seth Stephens- Davidowitz, data scientist and author of Everybody Lies and Don’t Trust Your Gut. “This study highlights how the overwhelming number of inputs a person gets in their average day — internet searches, news alerts, unsolicited comments from friends — frequently add up to more information than the brain is configured to handle.

People are tempted to throw out the confusing, and sometimes conflicting, data and just do what feels right. But this can be a big mistake. It has been proven over and over again that our instincts can lead us astray and the best decision-making is done with a proper understanding of the relevant data. Finding a way to get a handle on the stream of data at their fingertips, to help businesses distinguish between the signal and the noise, is a crucial first step,” added Davidowitz.

For Chris Chelliah, senior vice president, of technology and customer strategy, Oracle Japan and Asia Pacific, as businesses expand to serve customers in new ways, the number of data inputs required to get the full picture expands too. Business leaders that make critical decisions ignore that data at their own risk.

“The hesitancy, distrust, and lack of understanding of data shown by this study align with what we hear from customers rethinking their approach to decision-making. Our customers are looking for help to connect data to insight to decision to action. With our span of connected cloud capabilities, ranging from foundational data management, to augmented and applied analytics, to our suite of operational applications, we are uniquely positioned to meet this need and help our customers in the region achieve business success,” commented Chelliah.