We’ve just wrapped up fieldwork on the survey we’ve conducted into building business impact with insights. Our initial analysis of the data sheds some interesting light on this issue, specifically when it comes to the building blocks for having more impact. The first of these concerns how Insights is organized.
Organizing for business impact
In most companies, traditionally the Insights function has sat in the marketing team and this is still very much the case. Whilst this was no doubt wise when Insights was predominantly used to support marketing decisions, in today’s world where Insights are being used to support customer-centric decision-making throughout the organization, this is not ideal. Insights needs to find a new home. Our research indicates that Insights teams with a higher degree of maturity (based on the BCG/Cambiar/Yale stages of maturity model), are more likely to sit elsewhere in the organization, for example under the Chief Strategy Officer, than are less mature teams. Another factor to consider is the closeness to, and degree of co-operation with, other teams which generate data and insights on customers, namely the Customer Analytics (CA) and Customer Experience (CX) teams. In more mature Insights functions, the CI leader is more likely to report to the same boss as both the CA and CX leaders, and not be in different reporting lines. But irrespective of where CI sits organizationally speaking, if Customer Insights is to build more business impact, it is imperative that Insights works closely with both CA and CX to provide a holistic view of the market/customer and a co-ordinated point of view to decision-makers.
Focusing on business impact
The majority of the time spent by people in the Insights team is currently being spent on project management and analysis/reporting. Whilst of course this is important, we know that using time in this way has a low return on investment compared to other some activities Insights team members could be undertaking, such as engaging stakeholders and implementing insights in the organization for example. A couple of worrying findings emerge from the research: Firstly, Insights leaders themselves are also spending most of their time on these two project-related activities. Secondly, Insights leaders do not expect the use of their time, or that of the Insights teams, to change much over the next three years. We think more radical change is needed if Insights is to be perceived as a strategic business partners and a builder of business impact. Whilst Insights leaders are satisfied with their team’s skills with traditional research methodologies, they see a need for upskilling in many areas, in particular in the areas of modelling, measuring business impact and customer analytics. Additionally, Insights leaders in less mature Insights functions are less satisfied with their teams’ data synthesis and business consultancy skills.
Measuring for business impact
The mantra ‘If you don’t measure it, it isn’t real’ applies equally to the issue of Insights’ business impact as to much of business life, in particular when it comes to where money is being invested by organizations. We know from earlier research that there is a clear correlation between the measurement of business impact, in particular the financial impact, and the perception of the Insights function as a strategic business partner, or indeed a source of competitive advantage. The new research confirms that alarmingly few Insights teams are systematically measuring the business impact of their work in a consistent manner. Fortunately, this weakness is starting to be recognized and there is widespread dissatisfaction with the way the business impact/the ROI of Insights is currently being measured. More Insights to come We’ll be communicating more insights from the research over the coming months as part of our mission to help Insights leaders grow the impact they are having on the business. We will also be using the insights to inform version 2 of the Invest in Insights Handbook, which we will be issuing in October, and we’ll be presenting some of the key findings at the CRC conference in Orlando also in October. It promises to be a great conference, so if you are not already registered you can do so here. A Big Thank You to our partners We would like to thank our colleagues at the Insights Association for their hard work in pulling the sample together for survey We would like to thank all those Insights leaders, who took the survey, as this type of research, and the understanding it brings, is incredibly important for the future growth of our sector. We would also like to thank our Gold Partners, Gongos and Rti Research, for their contributions to the research, as without their help we would not have been able to conduct this important research.