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Serious data issues need to be overcome if businesses are to achieve their 2024 priorities 

  • 98% of Australian financial services professionals are not using real-time data 
  • Over 40% can’t access data to make decisions 
  • 40% don’t trust their data and the insights it gives them 

Operations leaders within financial services are facing decision paralysis, painting a concerning picture for the industry across Australia. The latest research from ActiveOps, provider of AI-powered Decision Intelligence for service operations, has revealed that senior operations heads are struggling to make critical decisions due to poor data – highlighting a concerning state of play that involves significant data issues and challenges that are impacting businesses’ ability to achieve their priorities in 2024. 

 To better understand the current data landscape, as well as AI adoption and maturity within operations in financial services and uncover the challenges they face with data, ActiveOps commissioned market research of more than 800 Chief Operations Officers, Chief Financial Officers, and Senior Heads of Operations across the globe. This included Australia, the UK, the US, the Republic of Ireland (ROI), Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. 

 It is a tale of two halves in Australia – but with the broad view that real-time data is not being implemented, with only 2% of respondents using it at all. While one fifth of operations leaders are basing decisions on data that is a week old, a third are using data that is over two months old. Over 40% shared that they are unable to access data to make real-time decisions, and 100% reported that it takes significant effort to get insights from operational data. This is likely resulting in the third of leaders that are relying on human instinct to make critical decisions, which is hindering decision-making. 

Anna Itsiopoulos, Managing Director APAC at ActiveOps said: “It is interesting to see from our research that businesses are falling into one of two camps when it comes to data challenges, but ultimately it seems that operations leaders are sleepwalking into a data disaster.  

“Many have invested heavily in process reengineering and automation to drive efficiencies, and to support digitisation strategies, but have failed to address the fundamental data problem. Managing in an environment of spreadsheets, data siloes and decision making by hunch is not tenable, and operations teams can’t achieve their goals if these challenges and barriers remain.” 

Retaining and supporting employees and increasing employee productivity are the biggest priorities in 2024 for Australian financial services businesses – but performance isn’t high in key areas such as employee engagement, effective decision-making and operational performance, with around 30% sharing that their businesses are only performing at an average level. Employee engagement isn’t currently a strong area, and yet will be critical to realising these people-focused priorities. 90% do believe, however, that AI and real-time data will significantly improve this and enable their organisations to perform at an excellent level.  

Data challenges are prevalent, hindering performance for teams. According to the research, 40% believe that their data is siloed, while one-third are struggling with inconsistencies in terms and metrics used to analyse data. Worryingly, almost 40% of operations leaders don’t trust their data when it comes to making critical decisions. 

Anna continued: “Basing critical decisions on insights that are incomplete, inaccurate and months old puts operations on the back foot. In today’s world, where customer demands are so high, speed of decision making to drive productivity and efficiencies becomes a competitive advantage. Leading to faster turnaround times, reducing overtime, limited staff burnout and avoiding costly SLA breaches.” 

Despite challenges, there is an indication that operations leaders recognise the power of data if it was accessible, relevant and available in real-time. The key to this is Artificial Intelligence (AI), and financial services companies will need to prepare themselves to embrace this technology so they can realise their potential through decisive decision-making.   

Anna concluded: “AI has the potential to transform the world of operations and confidence from operational leaders seems high. However, data holds the key to not only automate processes but to also support human decision-making – via predictive and prescriptive insights in real-time. 

“It’s time for operations leaders to make significant changes to get their data to a point where it is no longer siloed, and metrics and terms are agreed – and all that work will increase relevancy and trust. Only then can they make the best possible decisions for their business and realise the potential of AI and real-time data, beginning the journey from data drudgery to a leaner, transformed organisation.” 

To find out more, read the full whitepaper here. 


Research methodology 

ActiveOps commissioned Censuswide to survey over 850 Chief Operating Officers, Chief Financial Officers, and Senior Heads of Operations within the Financial Services sector, to gather insights on their priorities for 2024, challenges they were experiencing with their operational data and adoption of AI. The research was conducted between February and March 2024 in seven countries including the UK, Republic of Ireland, the United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles and are members of The British Polling Council.