Is this the best time ever to work in Insight?
If you work in a corporate Insight team, do you skip into the office every morning?
Did you spend last weekend trying to convince your family to give up their jobs and join your department?
Research and analysis roles have always provided intellectual challenge and the buzz which comes from successfully identifying a new insight about a consumer’s behaviour and its effect on an organisation. But in recent years, three major developments have had a dramatic impact on the scale of Insight teams’ opportunity. And all three are increasing this year.
First, there has been 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, now offer products and services online enabling them to collect vast amounts of information about their customers, about their transactions, and their contact with the organisation.
Second, our ability to understand human behaviour has evolved significantly, in particular our comprehension of human decision making. Developments in the fields of psychology and economics have combined to give us a rich knowledge of behavioural biases, so we can now better interpret the data we see, or know what data to look for to explain consumer choice.
And finally, a new generation of CEOs, CMOs and Chief Customer Officers are preaching the importance of customer-centricity. This has led to an unprecedented increase in the demand for customer insights, and a premium being paid for analysts and researchers who have the skills to ask the right questions and manipulate data to provide the answers.
Data is the world’s fastest growing resource, and the appetite and ability to use customer and market data is growing exponentially. With no exaggeration, it can be said that here has never been a greater opportunity for a corporate Insight team to transform the performance of the entire organisation.
But does it feel like that to you?
Despite the apparent opportunity, Insight departments across all sectors in the UK, Europe and North America report that it is actually getting more difficult to do our jobs.
The Insight Management Academy (IMA), set up in the UK in 2004 to support 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-led? How many companies can truly claim to have put a sophisticated, joined up understanding of consumers right at the very centre of their decision making processes?
How has this happened?
The increase in available data and ways in which it could be manipulated, together with a larger demand form decision makers, have combined to make Insight teams more task-focused. They are doing more and more analysis and research, but in it itself this doesn’t make their companies Insight-led. Far from it.
If Insight leaders are going to seize the opportunity and really make Insight make a difference, they need to step back and reflect on the precise nature of the opportunity they have, and plan for how they are going to utilise their resources more effectively to turn opportunity into reality.
To put it another way, if we want our organisations’ performance to be transformed by Insight, we first have to transform our Insight functions and the role they play in our companies.
So how do you transform your Insight function?
Every Insight team has its own unique challenges, but when you speak to the most effective Insight leaders, there are 8 principles which always surface.
This is the first in a new series of Insight leader guides, designed to provide succinct advice to anyone who wants to make their Insight team make a difference, but who has limited time to read long reports.
If your company is not a Forum or Network member, you now have the opportunity to access this guide and another dozen already published. From this month, access to the IMA's premium content can cost less than £20 a month, so please contact us if you would like to know more.