This new decade will be the best time ever to work in Customer and Market Insight.
Research and analysis roles have always provided unrivalled intellectual challenge, and the buzz which comes from successfully identifying new insights about consumers and their relationships with our organisations.
But in the final years of the last decade, three major developments had a dramatic impact on the scale of the opportunities for our Insight teams. And all three are sure to increase this decade.
First, there was the exponential growth in customer data, driven largely by digital transactions and social media conversations. Companies which had previously never known the identity of their end consumer started to offer services online enabling them to collect vast amounts of information about their customers' needs, behaviour and value.
Second, our ability to understand human behaviour has evolved so significantly, in particular how much we know about human decision-making. Developments in the fields of psychology and economics have combined to give us a rich new knowledge of behavioural biases, so we can now better interpret the data we see, or know what critical evidence to look for.
And finally, a new breed of CEOs and CMOs are preaching the importance of customer-centricity. That's led to an unprecedented increase in the appetite for customer insights, and a premium being paid for analysts and researchers who have the skills to ask the right questions, and then manipulate data to provide insightful answers.
Whether we work for commercial organisations, charities or the public sector, there has never been a greater opportunity for Insight to transform the performance of our entire organisation!
Are you ready to grasp the opportunity?
So there's a fantastic opportunity, but Insight leaders across all sectors in the UK, North America, Europe and Asia report that it is actually getting more difficult to do their jobs.
The Insight Management Academy (IMA), set up in the UK in 2004 to support the specific needs of corporate research and analysis teams, speaks to Insight leaders from multiple companies each week. And the message is consistent: the data situation may have changed, the software improved, the science developed, and the appetite increased, but how many organisations are really Insight-driven? Is yours?
So why isn't it getting easier? The increase in available data, the ways in which it can be manipulated, and the increased demand from decision-makers have all combined to make Insight teams more task-focused. We are all doing more and more analysis and research, but in itself that doesn’t create Insight-driven organisations. Far from it.
So if Insight leaders are going to seize the opportunity and really make Insight make a difference, we should embrace a 4-point plan this year to ensure that Insight is more effective than ever this decade.
The 4-point plan for successful Insight leaders
1. Reflect on the opportunity for Insight to transform the performance of your company
If you're not sure where to begin, seek inspiration from others. The IMA runs the Insight Forum in London, and we are piloting a new forum in Manchester on 6th February with a limited number of free places available for ambitious Insight leaders to represent their companies.
If you can't be in London or Manchester, go to www.insight-management.org for a wealth of best practice material all provided specifically for corporate Insight leaders and their teams.
2. Assess the position of Insight in your company and your current Insight capability
If you're not sure how your Insight team compares to others, why not take the IMA's free Insight leader survey and we'll send you a 1-page report benchmarking your responses relative to all the others we've collated.
3. Seek guidance on how to transform your Insight team
There are plenty of organisations out there offering corporate training, but make sure you buy from providers specialising in the skills needed by Insight managers, market researchers and customer analysts. Please click here to see the IMA's list of the training topics most popular amongst successful Insight leaders, often available either as team workshops or open courses.
4. Prioritise your own needs as an Insight leader
We cannot transform our organisations unless we first transform our Insight teams, but equally we cannot transform our teams unless we first take care of ourselves.
If you are a senior Insight specialist working in your company you will have a unique set of technical, managerial and leadership challenges. It's going to be a fantastically exciting role this decade, but equally it will be difficult and at times feel quite lonely.
The IMA can offer advice and support at any time, whatever your location, however senior or junior your role, so please contact us whenever you like, and take time out every fortnight to read our 5 Minute Insight emails - they will help you to feel more in control and better able to grasp all the exciting challenges of the new decade.
Chief Executive, IMA