Preparing for company meetings wastes 168 million hours a year

An explosion of business data has fuelled the creation of departmental data empires, with senior executives spending nearly a day each month collecting their own data ahead of key meetings, according to new research. Just six percent are using automated technology to support quick and consistent data collation.

The research from data-science consultancy Peak Indicators points to a lack of transparency and a tendency to hoard useful information that inhibits a true data-driven approach to business decision making.

Peak Indicators’ study found that, on average, UK company directors spend seven hours each month preparing data for board meetings and other company gatherings. Across the UK, Peak Indicators estimates that senior executives collectively waste a staggering 168 million hours a year collating and massaging information before they present it to colleagues.

Some 12 percent of the directors surveyed spend more than two days a month on this activity, while only six percent employ someone in their team to generate data insights to inform key business decisions.

The study, conducted by researchers at Opinium, found that the larger the company, the greater the amount of time senior executives spend preparing data, and the more likely data silos are to exist. Directors in organisations employing over 250 people devote nearly 12 hours each month to gathering, preparing and presenting data for internal meetings.

Only three percent of these large organisations automate this process to provide a quick, comparable and unbiased view of their worlds through data.

Kenneth Neilson, Managing Director at Peak Indicators, comments: “The plethora of data available in businesses and an increasing desire to use it for decision making, though welcome, has had a knock-on effect of creating departmental data chiefdoms within many organisations.

“The number of hours devoted to collating and massaging data is staggering. And instead of gaining an accurate, single view of their business in real-time, many boards see only the information departmental heads want to share, the way they want to share it.

“For organisations to truly become data-driven and derive a competitive advantage from data, their decisions need to be made based on consistent and comparable data sets. In an age of agility, authenticity and rapid change, leaders need to leave their egos at the door and accept that the best business decisions require the whole truth and nothing but it.”