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85 per cent of UK managers admit to making wrong decisions because of information delays

6 April, 2006

UK managers are being hamstrung by inadequate and out of date information, leading to poor decisions that cause millions of pounds to be wasted by companies on a daily basis, new research shows. This is costing the UK more than £2 billion annually, hitting competitiveness and profitability.

Asked about decision-making effectiveness, 85 per cent of managers admitted to making the wrong decisions and the majority pinned the blame on not having access to the right information fast enough. 63 per cent blamed the information bottleneck on limited technical resources.

These were the key findings of the ICS Information Black Hole Survey 2006, carried out by business data specialists ICS, over the last month. The research has identified an enormous information gap affecting UK middle and upper managers, leading to poor decisions and consequent loss of business performance.

While almost half of managers questioned based their everyday decisions on business information, more than three quarters (77 per cent) were forced to make decisions blind due to insufficient and late reports. This is costing UK companies £2,031, 480, 000 annually - more than £169 million per month.

The information logjam was blamed by the majority of managers on a lack of adequate internal technical resources for reporting. This means that information is concentrated with business analysts within the company rather than being immediately available to all those who need it on a daily basis. As a result, 52 per cent of managers felt that other factors such as gut feel, or advice from colleagues, were more helpful for making decisions than their company’s own business intelligence.

“UK unemployment grew by 5 per cent in the first quarter of 2006. But its companies are wasting £2 billion annually due to poor decision support - the equivalent sum of salaries for a tenth of those out of work,” said Christian Smyth, managing director, ICS . “The pips are squeaking as companies struggle to stay competitive, and cutting down on employees is an easy way to slash costs. One way organisations could cut costs much more dramatically is through efficient information delivery – while at the same time improving profitability and competitiveness.”

Of those surveyed, less than a quarter (23 per cent) felt they had all the information they needed to make decisions, with more than half (55 per cent) complaining that there was no specific timeframe for answering their information requests. Reports provided to the business were overwhelmingly static and impossible to interact with (85 per cent) leading to further frustrations for managers, who had to rely on IT, finance or business analysts for detailed answers. This created increased pressure on these departments, slowing the delivery of vital information to the business to a crawl.

Only eight per cent had the training, technical understanding and access to create their own reports, even though four fifths felt that the ability to do this would improve their decision making and overall business performance.

“British managers are being starved of the information they need to do their jobs better,” Smyth continued. “This is forcing them to make daily decisions blind, with expensive and far-reaching consequences. It is time to give staff at the coalface the information they need when they need it rather than retaining it within an elite of business analysts.”

Based on these findings, ICS has made a number of broad recommendations for companies to ensure fast access to information for managers:

· Never allow BI to be driven by IT. The business must always be the driving force and the prime sponsor to ensure it gets what it needs.

· Don’t treat Business Intelligence projects as a huge monolithic entity. Work out what will benefit the business most and implement quickly in manageable chunks.

· Concentrate just as hard on the lower tiers of management and operational staff as the Board when putting BI solutions together

. Most BI is required at the coalface for day-to-day decision support – and yet this is the area that is traditionally least well
served by leading BI vendors.

· Don’t forget to use what you already have. For instance, if you have SQL Server, you may not be aware that you also have a full BI
suite, provided as part of SQL Server’s standard platform

. BI solutions can often be built at a much lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) than the leading BI vendors will have you believe,
simply by using existing technology within your organisation.

· Notwithstanding basic security and infrastructure restrictions, empower your business users as fully as possible to self-serve and
interact with information to help them do their day-to-day work better

. Trust business users to work with information to help themselves. Don’t allow IT or Finance to withhold information for the
business’s “own good”.

· Use agile methodologies, allowing iterative change to BI systems in line with changing business requirements

. Waterfall methodologies, where everything is fully defined in fine detail up-front, are too cumbersome, too time-consuming, and
require a level of understanding of technology and data management that business people do not normally have.

A copy of the ICS Information Black Hole 2006 management report with full details of the findings, issues raised and recommendations can be requested from

ICS surveyed 1,050 business managers of companies with more than 250 employees at mainland rail stations in London during March 2006. Of those questioned, 97 per cent had decision-making responsibilities, split between senior managers (15 per cent), middle managers (43 per cent) and junior managers (38 per cent). They came from a cross-section of the finance, public sector, professional services, retail, manufacturing, utilities and services sectors.

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About ICS

ICS ( is a software house which specialises in decision support and operational business intelligence solutions. Founded in 1992, its blue-chip and mid-tier clients include Heinz, Exel Logistics, Unisys, the Co-Operative Bank, the Ministry of Defence and CMGL.

Since 2000 ICS has focussed primarily on business intelligence solutions and consultancy based on Microsoft .NET and SQL Server. In 2002 the company released netDrill, an ad hoc reporting and secure data distribution tool for SQL Server. In July 2004 ICS was awarded a substantial six-figure grant by the UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for Innovative R&D in Business Intelligence, recognising its excellence in the field. ICS is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with competencies in Custom Development and Data Management solutions.

RSinteract is an innovative interactive business intelligence tool for the masses developed by ICS for Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services. RSinteract brings business intelligence to the wider business community for the first time, offering a truly intuitive and interactive tool specifically for operational users and middle management. For further information, see:

Media contact:

Sarra Mander/Chris Measures
Rainier PR
020 7494 6570 / 07941 470 406

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