Top managers prefer to trust their gut over big data, according to a study conducted by researchers at Massey University. According to Dr Nazim Taskin from Massey’s School of Management, more than two-thirds of CXOs are failing to capitalize on the capabilities of data analytics, as a result of which they do not trust in big data and instead prefer to rely on their own intuition.
“One-quarter of participants also confessed they had only a modest knowledge of what big data is, or what it can do. It seems they rely on other managers within the organisation to generate big data insights, and those insights are used to confirm their own intuition or are ignored if they conflict with their gut feeling,” Taskin said in the report
Taskin cautioned that “analysis without direction can be deadly.” However, he said intuition should not be ignored. “Data analytics should complement, not replace, intuition. But, to make wise decisions, top level executives need to be able to judge the relevance, value and ethical implications of big data insights.”
The study also found those who favored analytics over intuition were often mid-level managers who were not in a position to use big data insights for strategic company decisions. And it found differing notions of the value of big data across the two groups. Mid-level managers tended to seek insights to improve business processes, while top-level executives sought insights to improve the company’s bottom line.
Taskin is now undertaking further research to better understand the impact of intuition and data analytics on decision-making among senior managers. “We hope further investigation will allow us to identify the factors inhibiting the effective use of big data, and how these might be remedied,” he said.
In recent years, there’s been a lot of growing evidence that leaders are becoming increasingly wary of data-driven advice. Another research conducted by advisory firm KPMG International in 2018 found that just 35 percent of respondents showed high levels of trust toward their organization’s use of data and analytics—while 92 percent of respondents fretted over the negative impact data points could have on an organization.