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gyroFORTUNE-Human-Factor-Decision-Making-July2014Despite all the advances made by analytics, a majority 61% of US business decision-makers believe that human insights should precede hard analytics when making decisions, according to survey results [download page] from gyro and FORTUNE Knowledge Group. What’s more, a near-equal 62% say it’s often necessary to rely on “gut feelings” when making decisions, and that soft factors should be valued as highly as hard factors. The findings bring to mind a recent study in which 3 in 4 business leaders said they trust their own intuition when making decisions.

That study also revealed that if available data contradicted their gut feeling when making a decision, a majority 57% of business leaders would re-analyze the data, while another 30% would collect more data. Only 10% would take the course of action suggested by the data.

The studies’ results suggest that emotions, intuition, and human factors continue to be important facets of decision-making. Indeed, respondents to the gyro study cited numerous factors that challenge their use of just an analytics approach, such as insufficient analytical capacity (37%), excessive data volume (34%) and rapid growth in the types of information available (31%). As a result, only 38% feel that unquantifiable factors should be disregarded in favor of strictly analytical methods.

Interestingly, when choosing a business partner, decision-makers are more apt to consider the company’s reputation (70%) than the quality of its products and services (63%) and its financial health (50%). And only 1 in 10 said that “charismatic or interesting leadership” is a key factor when choosing a partner.

Other results support the notion that the human touch counts: more than 4 in 10 respondents agreed that they prefer to do business with companies whose employees have “excellent interpersonal skills and emotional insight, as opposed to analytical intelligence.”

The study isn’t the first to show the importance of emotion in decision-making. Data cited in a recent MarketingCharts Debrief [download page] focusing on B2B decision-makers as individuals shows that B2B buying is extremely personal because purchases involve a variety of perceived personal risks ”“ such as losing credibility, time or even a job. These emotions translate into a higher purchase likelihood among those who recognize a brand’s personal value, such that B2B brands should consider emotions as well as reason when marketing to decision-makers.

Those findings are supported by the gyro and FORTUNE study, in which a slight majority of respondents said that positive feelings such as ambition, hope, and desire for admiration are the most motivating to decisions in all business contexts.

About the Data: The FORTUNE Knowledge Group, in collaboration with gyro, a global advertising agency, carried out the survey on emotion in business decision-making in June 2014. The sample includes 720 US-based senior executives, of whom 88% hold the position of director or above. All survey respondents have influence over key business decisions in a wide variety of functional areas, including 15% each in marketing and operations/production, 13% in it, 9% in finance, and 8% in general management. About 80% of the companies represented in the survey have annual revenues of $500 million or more, while 41% report $10 billion or more.

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