Accelerating decision-making: How businesses disrupt by making bold decisions in the age of uncertainty

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Accelerating decision-making: How businesses disrupt by making bold decisions in the age of uncertainty

The pandemic has changed the rate and pace of decision-making. Understand what’s helping and hindering businesses to make industry-changing decisions.

Ken Garcia

April 4, 2022 | 5 min read

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Even before the pandemic, business leaders understood the industry-disrupting value of bold and faster decision-making. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella used this to turn the company around in the mid-2010s when company leaders began publicly declaring that open source was “no longer taboo.” In his 2014 email to employees titled “Bold Ambition and our Core,” Nadella outlined several bold decisions, including making Microsoft’s solutions open source, a culture reboot, and empowering teams to make faster decisions. By 2016, Microsoft became the world’s top open source contributor, a move that helped to propel Microsoft into cloud computing

Nadella streamlined processes to speed decision-making and gave engineering teams a data and applied science resource so they could understand and predict customer needs and market trends. As technology evolved, he wanted Microsoft to “evolve with it and ahead of it.” And the rest they say is history.  

The Microsoft comeback provides a lesson that every business and brand, big and small, can learn: Insights, faster decision-making, innovation, and success go hand in hand. 

Today, business leaders have big plans but face a volatile and complicated landscape filled with societal, economic, and geopolitical disruptions. Looming over every leader’s bold agenda is the fact that no brand or business is immune from having to do business in an environment where customer feedback could cause businesses to shift their plans—fast. From Peloton to Spotify, we’ve learned every consumer is an activist and they’re using their power to sway markets at unprecedented speed. 

The volume of high-impact decisions leaders and teams will have to make has increased and they need to be made faster than ever before. To understand the state of decision-making, we asked over 1,700 functional leaders in B2B and B2C about how they approach everyday decisions and watershed moments. Here’s what they had to say.

Business leaders face decision-making impasses

The good news is that 97%¹ of leaders are confident in the decisions they make in their role, but 51% often or sometimes experience  decision-making impasses. They cite lack of data and insights and inability to accurately measure outcomes.  

This trend is consistent with a separate study we ran in January 2022, where six in 10 business decision-makers² said they’re experiencing decision-making impasses too. “Business decision-makers are juggling a lot in terms of managing timelines, people, and more specifically, the data and inputs that go into making decisions,” said Sam Gutierrez, research scientist, Momentive.

The data challenge is layered: 42% of business leaders in our most recent study said they don’t have enough data or information to make proper decisions, and 28% are lacking tools to gain insights. For those that have a data-rich environment, 49% indicated they are struggling to create actionable insights from the data they have.

These top challenges to bolder and faster decision-making create a pressing need for companies to re-think approaches and consider new technology that provides timely and accurate insights to their leaders and teams.

Mind the gap: C-suite versus mid-level disconnect

In our most-recent research, we asked business leaders how confident they were in their leadership team’s decision-making. Overall, 81% of business leaders are feeling pretty confident but there’s more nuance to this finding. When we examined what the C-suite and VPs think versus what mid-level managers feel, there is a disconnect. 

In fact, 89% of senior leaders (VP, C-suite) are confident in the decisions their leadership teams are making, but only 77% of middle leaders agree. Are senior leaders too overconfident in their abilities? And why are mid-level leaders feeling less confident? 

Whether it’s strategy misalignment, lack of insights, or pace of decision-making, the disconnect will be further explored in our forthcoming full report.  

Leaders turn to AI to enhance decision-making

As AI adoption accelerates across the enterprise, leaders are embracing this advanced technology for business decision-making. Our study revealed that 70% of business leaders are using AI and ML to provide insights for the decisions their company is making, and nearly half (49%) say that represents an increase in adoption and use of such tools since the start of the pandemic. 

In these dynamic times, AI is becoming increasingly indispensable to business decision-making.  In our January 2022 study, 47%2 of business decision-makers said AI and ML, and automation are very important to the future of their organization, and 74% plan to increase investment over the next five years.

Data-driven boldness is the new normal

For leaders, there’s never been a better time to pursue a bold agenda. Yes, you can count on more external disruption, but the past two years have expanded our sense of what can be achieved in a short period of time: transformation is achieved in months, not years. 

In the post-pandemic world of constant change, making bold and faster decisions will separate the winners from the losers. It’s time for organizations and leaders to get the insights they need to make decisions at the speed of business and make their bold vision a reality.

Making high-impact decisions in fast-changing industries was never easy, but to succeed in today’s new landscape, it’s critical that business leaders get it right. And now leaders can combine the power of AI with human judgment to enhance, accelerate, and scale bold decision-making to make an impact and shape what’s next. 

¹This Momentive study was conducted from February 14–March 6, 2022. We surveyed 1,716 C-suite, Sr. Managers, and Managers working at publicly traded B2B and B2C companies in the U.S. The sample was balanced by age, race, among other demographic variables, according to the U.S. Census.

²This Momentive study was conducted on January 24, 2022 among a sample of 296 business decision makers in the US. Respondents for this survey were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on our platform each day.

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