People feel overwhelmed and underqualified to use data to make decisions and this is hurting their quality of life and business performance, according to a new study by Oracle and New York Times best-selling author, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz.

“People are drowning in data. This study highlights how the overwhelming amount of inputs a person gets in their average day — internet searches, news alerts, unsolicited comments from friends – frequently add up to more information than the brain is configured to handle,” Stephens-Davidowitz said.

“People are tempted to throw out the confusing, and sometimes conflicting, data and just do what feels right. But this can be a big mistake. It has been proven over again that our instincts can lead us astray and the best decision-making is done with a proper understanding of the relevant data. Finding a way to get a handle on the stream of data at their fingertips, to help businesses distinguish between the signal and the noise, is a crucial first step.”

Australians recognise the significance of data in making accurate and reliable decisions and understanding that decisions shouldn’t be made based on gut feeling alone (95%). However, 93% of Australians also believe the volume of data has made decision-making more complex in both their personal and professional lives – the highest in the world.

With the increasing volume of data, Australians are now confronted with a decision-making crisis, unsure whether to rely on their intuition or the data in front of them. As a result, many Australians are simply avoiding making decisions altogether. Interestingly, this number was higher for business leaders (89%) than employees (75%).

“Australia understands that data is instrumental to making accurate and reliable decisions. However, today, business leaders and employees are faced with an unprecedented volume of data, leaving many feeling overwhelmed and stripping them of confidence in decision-making,” Oracle Australia and New Zealand regional managing director, Stephen Bovis said.

“Australians are famous for our laissez-faire, ‘she’ll be right’ attitude. This study shows that perhaps, this attitude boils down to a lack of confidence in decision-making capabilities with many Australians choosing to avoid making a decision altogether.”

Business leaders want data to help and know it is critical to the success of their organisations, but don’t believe they have the tools to be successful which is eroding their confidence and ability to make timely decisions.

Australian business leaders suffer from decision distress more than any other nation (95%) – regretting, feeling guilty about, or questioning a decision they made in the past year – and 99% believe having the right type of decision intelligence can make or break the success of an organisation.

Almost all respondents (99%) want help from data. In an ideal world, they want data to help them make more money (38%), reduce risk (35%), make better decisions (34%), make faster decisions (34%), and plan for the unexpected (32%).

In reality, close to nine in 10 (89%) Australian business leaders admit the sheer volume of data and their lack of trust in data has stopped them from making any decision at all and 99% believe the growing number of data sources has limited the success of their organisations.

Managing different data sources has required additional resources to collect all the data (68%) for Australian leaders made strategic decision making slower (37%), and introduced more opportunities for error (32%).