Mixing Mind and Machine: How the UK’s Business Leaders Make Their Big Decisions

Published at 00:01 AM on 28 June 2016

  • New PwC study finds most UK organisations still only dabbling with data

UK business is still underutilising data to make their most important decisions despite rapid technological advances, according to PwC’s 2016 Big Decisions Survey. The study looks at how organisations around the world use data and analytics to make the decisions that will give them a competitive edge, and what might be holding them back.

Surveying more than 2,000 business decision-makers and leaders, including more than 250 from the UK, the research shows the UK to be lagging behind other major economies in using data as part of daily business operations. Less than a third of UK organisations (30%) claim to be highly data-driven, compared to those in the US (45%) and China (53%).

When making major decisions, UK respondents report data and analytics to be the second most important factor (33%), almost on par with experience and intuition (34%), whilst also relying heavily on external advice (25%).   While the results reveal a greater importance of data and analytics in decision making compared to two years ago (2014: 23%), the study also shows that many of the advanced predictive opportunities are still being missed. 

More than half of UK respondents (59%) agree that analytics is most often used merely as a diagnostic and descriptive tool in their companies to look backwards and analyse what has happened and why. Only a quarter (24%) use analytics to predict what would or could happen, while only 13% of respondents use an automated, prescriptive approach to determine what should happen and why.

Yann Bonduelle, consulting data analytics partner at PwC, commented:

“This year’s study shows that data continues to be an underutilised tool in the decision-making process in the UK, despite the pace of technological change over the last two years. It’s clear that organisations know data is important, but are not yet properly leveraging it to supplement human judgment.

“According to our research, the great majority of organisations are using data to look backwards and are missing out on the great advantages that tools such as predictive analytics can bring to a company’s success.”

Motivated by market leadership and the need to survive, the most likely proactive decisions that UK leaders will face in the next five years are around developing or launching new products or services (25% envisage having to do this); investment in IT (20%); or entering new markets with existing products (18%).

Yann Bonduelle concluded:

“At a time when rewards for first-mover advantage can be so high, now is the time to use the power of predictive analytics to increase competitive edge. To become a data-driven organisation, business leadership needs to set the tone and deliver on their commitment.  This means adopting a culture of experimentation.”


Notes to editor:

For more information, please contact Felicity Main: [email protected] / +44 (0)20 7213 3092 / +44 (0)7841 467 421



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