Few organisations have yet to wake up to the benefits of developing data-driven strategies, but increasing pressure to make swift "critical" business decisions is forcing many leaders to abandon insight and go with their gut feeling for fear of losing ground to their competitors.
According to a new study of C-level executives by data platform provider Splunk, nearly all (90%) make business critical decisions in the same business day, while two in every three (67%) make those decisions in less than two hours.
Cumulatively, businesses are making on average seven critical business decisions every week.
This pace of decision-making is potentially causing a diversion away from data-led decision-making, and 40% of C-level executives feel the need to move quickly is holding them back from asking for more data.
Instead "gut feel" is driving nearly half (47%) of the leaders in making business critical decisions, with less than one in 100 leaders claiming their decisions are always data-led.
In terms of input into decision-making, respondents ranked recommendations from colleagues as the most useful input (52%), followed by customer feedback (51%), gut feel (47%) and repeating a previously successful approach (43%).
With such a relentless pace, leaders are often forced to deprioritise their use of data in decision-making, using it to make "rear view mirror" diagnoses only and potentially missing forward-looking growth opportunities that could help spur European economic growth, the study authors claim.
While leaders understand that their organisations are investing resources to better harness the explosion of data they face, this is not yet being used to bring data to every question, action and decision they need to make.
Nearly all respondents (92%) could name a specific business area that they believe more accurate data could help to improve, with a third (33%) citing customer growth as the biggest business opportunity that data could unlock for their business.
Similarly, it seems budget is not an issue, with less than 1 in 10 (8%) of the C-suite citing monetary investment as a barrier to investing in more or better data sources and software.
Splunk chief technical advisor James Hodge said: "The fact that businesses are producing vast amounts of data is indisputable, but it’s clear from this research that our senior business leaders, including those at board level, are still struggling to access the data on their own terms, when they really need it to power live, forward looking decisions.
"As an industry we need to do more to support businesses apply their own data to everything they do, and turn it from business diagnosis or remedy, into business development."