While business executives worldwide are making decisions based on data, they are still pitting this against their intuition, according to a new report by the Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by Applied Predictive Technologies.

The study examines approaches to decision-making among business leaders and outlines how organizations can improve the decision-making process. It exposes a gap between business executives’ understanding and beliefs about the importance of data, and the extent to which they actually use or are able to use data and analytics in the decision-making process.

Despite the obvious value placed on data, the findings suggest that many executives still lack confidence, often not fully trusting the outcomes of their data analysis and choosing to re-analyze.

Clearly business executives place a high value on data for decision-making, with 59 percent describing their approach as data-driven or empirical and only 10 percent saying they primarily use their intuition in making decisions.

But this belies a conflict between the role of data and that of intuition, the study notes. Nearly three-quarters of the executives surveyed say they trust their own intuition when it comes to decision-making, and 68 percent believe they would be trusted to make a decision that was not supported by data.

One contributor to the study noted the danger of putting too much emphasis on intuition. “When there is a high degree of novelty, our insights and experience are limited at best or at worst deeply misguided,” Stefan Thomke, William Barclay Harding professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, said in a statement.

It seems that while executives highly value data, they’re using it to confirm that their gut feeling and pre-existing beliefs are correct, rather than being guided by what the data tells them, according to the report.


Image: Thinkstock

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