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PwC's Data and Analytics Survey 2016

Big Decisions™

Executives in the UK want strategic and operational decisions to be more data-driven. They say their own organisations and cultures are holding them back.


To get a clear understanding of how business leaders approach decision making in their organisations, we used special software and a narrative-led methodology to see experiences that otherwise wouldn’t be captured in standard survey instruments.

Since May 2015, we have been collecting micro stories and other signifying data from 2,100 executives and managers. 256 of these are based in the UK. We wanted to understand the degree to which they see themselves as data-driven; their reliance on machine learning versus human judgement; their needs around speed and sophistication; and the limitations they face.

Watch this video to hear Yann Bonduelle, Consulting Data Analytics Lead, give an overview of our findings from the UK results, 2016.


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What will be your next big decision?

Big decisions and the motivations behind them

We asked over 250 executives in the UK, what they will be making major decisions about before 2020. The most likely proactive decisions 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%). And executives in the UK are motivated by market leadership and the need to survive.

A mix of mind and machine

The UK is ‘dabbling with data’. The majority of organisations are “data focused but not data centric” as one respondent describes it. Executives understand the importance of data and are using it to inform decisions, but continue to base their strategic decision on human judgement rather than machine algorithms, even when it comes to their most important, high value decisions.

Most organisations are currently using data to look backwards and describe what happened and why. A quarter are predicting what will or could happen, and the most sophisticated companies (just 13%) are using prescriptive approaches to determine what should happen and why.

What's holding them back?

Decision-makers acknowledge it’s not data or analysis that holds them back from making decisions. Instead, they’re more likely to feel limited by a whole host of other factors: availability of resources, budgetary considerations, issues with implementation, leadership courage, operational capacity to act, policy constraints, and poor market responses. 

To become a data-driven organisation, leadership needs to set the tone and deliver on it. There has to be acceptance of experimentation and a bigger shift towards using predictive analytics to support strategic decision making.

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Tom Lewis

Tom Lewis

Partner - Technology, PwC United Kingdom

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