Digitisation and Decision Making in the Boardroom

Sally Dibb, Maureen Meadows, David Wilson, Open University Business School.

A key omission from empirical work in strategic decision making is to what extent and how the rapid increase in digitization of data influences senior decision makers such as Boards. This small research project indicates that this is a fruitful area for larger scale comparative research since current findings show a number of patterns and themes from organizations in various sectors. Key findings are that Boards do not commonly experience difficulties in the availability of digital data, but vary in the ways in which they use these data (or not). Some Boards cling to tried and tested ways of decision making, relying on others to synthesise digital data into very short paper-based reports. Sector and size seem to be key variables with larger organizations able to use specialists in digital data on the board to help decision making and sectors such as retail, service and construction as heavier users of digital data. Medium-sized and small organizations seemed less open to basing decisions at Board level on digital data, despite having access to such data at more operational levels such as in Marketing. It seems that Boards still demand data reduction in order to make strategic decisions, hence limiting their ability to use digital data in decision making. Finally, there were indications that Board may become increasingly ‘data savvy’ as new members are recruited in the future although it was noted that this could be a relatively slow process.

Keywords: Strategic Decision Making, Boards, Digital Data, Processes, Barriers and Opportunities.