Business success is MADE in Insight

If our organisations are to succeed, they need joined-up insights.

They don’t need isolated facts and figures, they need contextualised observations, new discoveries about how customers think and behave in the market in which they operate.

If these discoveries are to have any interest, validity, sense of proportion or importance, they have to be generated in the context of other known truths. Business success relies on joined-up insights.

In 2004 the IMA published the report that first coined the phrase ‘insight management’. It recommended that organisations should see joined-up Insight as a key means of solving business problems and identifying market opportunities.

So what had been separate functions like market research, competitor intelligence and customer analysis, would be far more effective if they worked together. The individual disciplines were important to produce robust, accurate inputs, but the ultimate outputs should be joined-up insights to enable our companies to take joined-up decisions.

Does your company create joined-up insights?

But 15 years later, how many organisations consistently produce joined-up insights? In its daily conversations with corporate Insight leaders in the UK, North America and Europe, the IMA usually hears one of three stories:

  • Market research and analytics are sitting in different business silos with corporate decision-makers forced to choose which department they go to;
  • Market research and analytics are in the same business unit, but are working on separate sets of projects, with different mindsets, approaches, and contexts for their work;
  • Market research leaders are taking on some responsibility for analysts or, even more common, analytics departments are taking over market research teams, but neither knows how to get the best out of the other. 

In each case, the generation of new insights, and the input to corporate decision-making, usually remains fragmented. So how can we Insight leaders change our thinking - and our colleagues’ working patterns - to create the joined-up insights necessary for better business decisions?

How to create joined-up insights

The answer is to reframe our approach to Insight activity. We should move away from a focus on functional disciplines like market research, customer analytics and competitor intelligence, and instead see each of these as inputs to the creation of a holistic story about how consumers in our market become customers of our organisation and create value for it.

To do this consistently, we should adopt a causal model into which we can add every new piece of knowledge. 

The IMA calls this the MADE in Insight model:

Metrics: the business outcomes our organisation aspires to achieve

Activity: the customer behaviour that directly affects those business outcomes

Decisions: the consumer choices that really drive that activity

Environment: the market context that frames those choices

Over the next few weeks the IMA will publish a series of articles showing how this model can underpin all our Insight work and help our organisations achieve business success that is MADE in Insight.

If you have another 5 minutes

If your organisation has a corporate membership with the IMA and you have an online accoujt with us, you can now read more about this topic in our Insight leader guide, IMP102: How to create joined-up Insight

If you are based outside the UK it is still possible for your company to become a corporate member and access our best practice publishing, benchmarking and advice.

So if you have the ambition to transform your Insight team and the role it plays, please contact us today.


James Wycherley

Chief Executive, IMA