The spark of insight

Is there a Future for Insight Departments?

Many organisations have revamped their Market Research groups as Insight Departments in the past five to ten years. However, it takes more than a name change for those involved to achieve the recognition they deserve. If you work in or with such a department, then read on, as I have some ideas on how you can achieve this.

Last month Forrester issued the results of some research they had done looking into the Future of Market Research in 2013. Their conclusions were:

  1. 2013 is the year of truth for market insights: their future will depend on how successful they are at getting increased investments and tapping into alternative information sources than just market research
  2. Market insights departments need to invest in knowledge, technology and skills: the group will need to better respond to the fast-paced management need for the customer understanding that can impact their business decisions
  3. Vendors have to show their worth: suppliers have become commodity providers as they have allowed their clients to select on price more than differentiation.
  4. Future market insights solutions have to connect the dots: single source is no longer sufficient – if it ever was – and vendors need to be able to better respond to the need for 360 degree perspectives.

Whilst I certainly agree with these conclusions, which in fact impact both supplier and company insight professionals, I believe that most of these needs are not really new. Some more forward-thinking organisations have in fact already identified and adjusted to these changed needs. So what is there to do if you haven’t? How do you prioritise what needs to be done in your organisation? Here is my top 5 tips:

#1. Find out what management really needs

It is amazing how many market research and insight groups still have little, or no contact with top management. So how can they possibly be perceived as value creators for the business? It is not enough just to attend the presentations of the business plans or to get a copy of them to read afterwards. You need to talk with those who wrote them and those who will implement them. Ideally, you should be instrumental in helping to draw them up. Get out of your offices and into the boardrooms and hallowed top-floor offices. Listen hard and ask hard questions. Make sure you understand where the company is going and your role in getting there.

#2. Review the information you currently collect

Most organisations have regular on-going measurements of some sort, which probably haven’t changed in years, if not decades! Now you know what the business needs, review, revamp or retire the studies that are no longer needed. Show that you are using your budget wisely, to provide management with the information and knowledge they need, to help them to take better decisions.

#3. Revamp what is important

Those projects that do add value to the organisation will certainly need updating on a regular, possibly annual basis. Do your retail audits reflect the current market situation? Are the attributes you follow in your brand image trackers accurately covering the strengths of the latest competitive launches as well as your own? Take each study and adjust for each brand in collaboration with your marketing AND sales teams.

#4. Share the knowledge

Many organisations are afraid of competition getting a hold of their information, and therefore do not make it widely available within the organisation. Have you never learnt about something going on in your own organisation, but from competition? I know I have. Therefore the risks of tipping off the competition are far lower than others may think, so start to share the information you gather. It is amazing how much you can save when you do, as other departments often then discover that they are conducting research, or buying information and reports that are already available in-house.

#5. Integrate for Insight

Despite some managers still believing that insight is just another word for market research, insights are in fact developed out of multiple information sources. Whilst Forrester suggested that this could be managed by your suppliers, I believe that whilst they may help, true insights come from integrating information and knowledge from multiple sources, both internal and external. This means not only different projects, but also different departments that have differing perspectives and perhaps also different connection points with the customer. The insight group can help bring all this understanding together and develop actionable insights for profitable business growth.

Well this is my starter for five. What else would you add to help bring insight departments into the center of the brave new world of customer centric organisations? If you carry out these first five steps that I have mentioned, then you will start to get more appreciation for the real value you are adding to the business and your budgets might even be increased; which will then lead to even greater value. Now that’s what I call a win-win and a really bright future for everyone in Insight! What do you think?

For ideas and training on insight development check out our website: http://www,c3centricity.com/home/understand

C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime.com and Kozzi.com

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Denyse Drummond-Dunn (193 Posts)

Denyse is "The 1-Day Catalyst". She makes a difference FAST! With over 30 years' experience in some of the best marketing organisations around (including Gillette, Philip Morris & Nestlé) today she runs her own consultancy, C3Centricity. Organisations hire her to improve their customer understanding, so they can build more profitable relationships and increase the ROI of their information investments. If you liked this post, you’ll be inspired by her 1-Day Catalyst sessions. Give her a call or drop her an email to discuss your needs: NO obligation, just Inspiring Vision, Customer Understanding, Engagement!


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