Australian execs turn to data as watercooler discussion runs dry


Publishing date: 12 October, 2021 - 22:00
  • 61% of local leaders said a lack of non-verbal communication had made it difficult to engage with employees and business partners (Q18)
  • Despite challenges, 41% of local respondents said the quality of conversations amongst the business had actually improved since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic (Q19)
  • 85% of organisations said analytics had reduced uncertainty about decision making during the pandemic. (Q8)
  • 64% of local leaders agreed that data usage during the pandemic removed business hierarchies and made workplace conversations more accessible (Q17)

Sydney, 13 October 2021 - The loss of meeting ‘face time’ during the Covid-19 pandemic is worrying many Australian business leaders and forcing them to rethink their leadership approaches, despite the country faring better than many others according to a new YouGov survey commissioned by Tableau, the world’s leading analytics platform (NYSE:CRM).

The research, which included responses from almost 2,000 business leaders around the world, found many local executives struggled with lack of in-person communication because of changed workplace conversations. 

The Quality Conversations survey found 61% of local leaders said a lack of non-verbal communication had made it difficult to engage with employees and business partners, whilst another 61% said no longer having informal ‘water cooler’ discussions was also impacting their ability to engage with others. 

Overall Australian businesses were more positive about the impact of the pandemic on workplace culture and discussion than many other countries. Some 41% of local respondents said the quality of conversations amongst the business had actually improved since the onset of the pandemic, compared to just 27% who had seen a decline in quality.

Professor Donnel Briley, a social psychologist and Professor of Marketing at University of Sydney said Australia’s traditional egalitarian business approach may have helped local leaders transition to new working environments.

“The past 18 months has been a testing time for Australian leaders. Overall the shift to remote working has been less disruptive to local business discussion than in other countries because of its increased opportunities for inclusivity and levelled hierarchies - which are real traits of local leadership. On the other hand, opening up discussions to more participants means Australian business leaders are going to have to be more focused and structured. Data will increasingly play a role in helping achieve this,” Professor Briley said.

Australian businesses were more likely to help offset concerns about business changes by relying on data to inform business discussions. Some 66% of Australian leaders were now using data to drive conversations, according to the research, and 85% said analytics had reduced uncertainty about decision making during the pandemic. However, the frequency and scale of data usage remains a challenge with only 22% of Australian leaders using data analytics platforms daily.

There was a strong relationship between the use of data by a business leader to drive discussion, and the rest of the organisation following suit. Almost all businesses (84%) whose Australian leaders used analytics tools at least weekly to drive discussions had similar levels of adoption across the business.

Gavin Jones, Country Manager - Australia and New Zealand, Tableau said “local business leaders have been remarkable in their ability to guide organisations during the past 18 months. The challenge now is how to prepare for further change and growth. Pivotal will be the adoption of a genuine data culture. This research has shown that realising the full value of your data means empowering everyone to make better decisions with it - starting with the business leaders themselves.”

Jonathan Hassett, Executive Director in the Work Dynamics unit of global property consultancy company JLL, said: “Data-driven insights are the keys to unlocking new efficiencies and improving outcomes. These are the building blocks of a quality conversation. I have given my team the challenge of completely exiting static reporting. If we can’t present our work through automated dashboards, we are not delivering on our commitment to ensure our accounts are highly digitally-enabled.”

Other significant Australian data findings included:

  • Impact of Covid-19 conversations: 41% of Australian respondents said the quality of business conversations had improved since the onset of the pandemic, compared to just 27% who had seen a decline in quality.
  • The use of data to help offset concerns about conversation quality has grown. 54% of businesses were using more data than at the beginning of the pandemic to drive conversations and embed into culture.
  • Businesses that regularly (weekly) or often used (daily) data during the pandemic have found staff are better prepared in meetings (63%), had more productive meetings (66%) and helped prioritise which discussions were most important (73%) 

The global study questioned 1,977 executives from Australia, Japan and Singapore from within the Asia Pacific region, as well as business leaders from Brazil, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

To learn more about the results for Australia and other countries please visit: https://www.tableau.com/great-decisions-come-great-conversations-apj 

Note to editors

A copy of the research findings and imagery to support are available upon request.

Explore the research findings on Tableau Public:  

https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/tableau.research/viz/QualityConversationsSurveyGlobal2021/Tab1Data-driven

To arrange a briefing or request further information about the findings, contact H+K Strategies Australia.   

About the research

From 6-17 August 2021, YouGov surveyed C-suite business leaders throughout Asia including Australia (222 respondents), Japan (209) and Singapore (224), as well as countries such as Brazil (224), France (232), Germany (220), Spain (214), Sweden (215) and the United Kingdom (217).

About Tableau, a Salesforce company

Tableau helps people see and understand data. Tableau’s self-service analytics platform empowers people of any skill level to work with data. From individuals and non-profits to government agencies and the Fortune 500, tens of thousands of customers around the world rely on Tableau’s advanced analytics capabilities to make impactful, data-driven decisions. For more information, please visit www.tableau.com.

About Salesforce

Salesforce is the global leader in Customer Relationship Management (CRM), bringing companies closer to their customers in the digital age. Founded in 1999, Salesforce enables companies of every size and industry to take advantage of powerful technologies—cloud, mobile, social, internet of things, artificial intelligence, voice and blockchain—to create a 360-degree view of their customers. For more information about Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), visit: www.salesforce.com