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  • 94% of operational leaders not using real-time data to make decisions 
  • Almost 40% can’t access data to make critical decisions  
  • Almost half do not have the right data or environment to capitalise on AI implementation 

Operations leaders within financial services are facing decision paralysis, painting a concerning picture for the industry across New Zealand. The latest research from ActiveOps, provided 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 New Zealand, the UK, the US, the Republic of Ireland (ROI), Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. 

On the face of it, operations leaders in New Zealand appear to be on the road to transformation. Two thirds shared that their business is at an advanced stage of AI implementation, and 60% are basing decisions on data that is a week old or fresher. However, only 6% are using real-time data to make critical decisions – and 94% believe it takes significant effort to get insights from operational data. 

Anna Itsiopoulos, Managing Director APAC, at ActiveOps said: “In New Zealand, operations leaders are buying into a pipedream that isn’t quite reality. While it may seem that businesses are making strides forward and are using AI to help them with real-time decision-making it is clear from our research that the problems lie in the data itself.  

“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.” 

Increasing employee productivity is a top priority for businesses, and yet data challenges are still prevalent. Almost 40% can’t access data to make real-time decisions – and 35% shared that those decisions are very complex. Inconsistent metrics and terms are impacting 40%, while 35% are struggling because data is siloed. 

Additionally, almost half stated that they don’t have the data and environment to capitalise on AI. As a result, leaders can’t drive the outcomes that they want and decision-making is at the heart of this. 

Anna continued: “Effective and consistent decision-making is very difficult for financial services operations leaders. This has a significant impact on businesses as a whole, as well as its people, which is significant businesses that are putting their employees’ productivity at the heart of their performance indicators this year. Making poor decisions will ultimately hinder growth, significantly weakening businesses and making it difficult to motivate teams. 

 “Basing critical decisions on insights that are incomplete, inaccurate and weeks 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 insight in real-time.   

“It’s time for operations leaders to make a true assessment of their business – not one based on running before you can walk. A lot of work needs to be done to get their data to a point where it is relevant and trusted. 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 thinking they are advanced to a truly transformed, leaner 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.