Organizational Agility: Making Informed Decisions with Speed

Our research finds a strong correlation between enterprise-wide data access and the ability of businesses to make the best decisions for their future success.

In a rapidly changing world, there is no place for slow, inflexible decision-making. To compete, today’s workers and business leaders must be empowered to make informed decisions at speed.

For enterprises, having access to the right data, and ensuring that employees at all levels use it to make the best decisions, is critical to long-term success for their organization. 

The problem isn’t the quantity of that data. The problem is that it’s not easily consumable or very trustworthy—not to mention out of date. Too often, data is disparate and disconnected from essential business processes, making it difficult to use in a timely way to give business leaders the visibility—into their financials, operations, and workforces—that they need to nimbly guide their organizations.

Empowered, Informed, Delegated

Our global study, “Organizational Agility at Scale: The Key to Driving Digital Growth,” finds a strong correlation between enterprise-wide data access and the ability to make informed decisions at speed. 

The free flow of information and data is cited as the most critical factor in driving agile decision-making practices. In fact, 84 percent of CEOs we surveyed say this is the case. Yet barriers to delegating decision-making across organizations remain rife, with change-averse culture and data silos impeding the shift to agility in the majority of firms. 

Let’s take a closer look at those barriers and investigate how leading firms are using data to unlock delegated decision-making—a key characteristic of organizational agility. 

Eighty-four percent of CEOs cite the free flow of information and data as the key driver of agile decision-making.

Barriers to Empowered Decision-Making

The pace of change facing today’s businesses means people need to be given the right information, at the right time, to make the best possible decisions. Our research finds that the majority of organizations know this to be true—yet decision-making remains slow and hierarchical in most companies.

According to our findings, more than half say that access to data within their organization is somewhat accessible but remains outdated and siloed within functional teams. What’s more, one in five feel strongly that a culture of hierarchy prevents their organization from effectively delegating decision-making. 

Together, these barriers are the perfect ingredients for a cocktail of slow, rigid decision-making that could stifle even the most progressive organizations. 

The CIO and COO: Facing Decision Delegation Difficulties

Of the C-suite, CIOs and COOs are least likely to say their teams have seamless access to all the data they need to make decisions. After the CEO, CIOs and COOs are also most likely to point to a culture of hierarchy as a barrier to delegated decision-making. These two factors may explain why decision-making across the IT and operations functions at large remains slower than other functions of the business. 

A lack of access could also explain why technology and operations chiefs are most skeptical among the C-suite about the role that data and information flows play in facilitating delegated decision-making. Instead, they are far more likely to point to transparent lines of accountability as a leading enabler. 

Enablers of Empowered Decision-Making

Although progress is slow, there is consensus that the free flow of data and information, standardized processes, and active encouragement from the C-suite all contribute to democratizing decision-making. 

In fact, the leading organizations in our study—those that are most agile and have therefore unlocked higher levels of digital growth—are near-unanimous in stressing the role that data and information play in facilitating this shift. Tellingly, 80 percent of leading organizations say that data is accessible across the business, with no unnecessary gatekeepers or bottlenecks.

Where decision-making agility is concerned, there are business benefits to be gained from liberalizing access to data. Leading organizations are both twice as likely as others to say customer-facing staff have seamless access to the data they need to make decisions, and that those employees are empowered to make decisions to improve the customer experience.

Steps to Empowered Decision-Making

According to our research, organizations whose employees are empowered to make decisions are twice as likely as others to have made significant progress driving digital growth to future-proof their business. 

To adopt an agile approach to decision-making, organizations must: 

  1. Challenge data cautiousness. It goes without saying that breaking down silos to enable organization-wide access to real-time data is critical. However, eradicating entrenched attitudes and change-averse mindsets underpinning those silos will go a long way to disrupting the status quo. 
  2. Build a culture that discourages bottlenecks and encourages delegation. The abolition of rigid structures and inflexible decision-making processes goes hand-in-hand with the delegation of decisions across the business. Building a culture of trust, transparency, and encouragement—from C-suite down—relies on firmly setting the expectation that workers both be given access to the data they need and use it to make decisions. 
  3. Adopt the right technology for data self-service. IT teams—and the wider business—gain when data can be accessed quickly without the intervention of the IT department. An enterprise-wide platform with the ability to give real-time views across the business will drive this. Additionally, a tool that can help you marry disparate data sources into a trustworthy whole will help tremendously.

By democratizing decisions, organizations will be better placed to pivot to new opportunities, safe in the knowledge that their people are armed with the data they need to make empowered choices aligned with the business’s best interests.

Get an overview of “Organizational Agility at Scale: The Key to Driving Digital Growth” findings or download the full report.

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