There’s a big insights gap out there. Not enough insights are turning into actions that matter, despite continued investment in data, people, and technology. For example, in 2016, data and analytics pros reported that firms base only 49% of business decisions on quantitative information and analysis as opposed to opinion. That’s up from 2015, but only by 3 percentage points – out of alignment with the investment in insights capabilities. You feel the pressure, I know. So, it's action time - to drive more value from insights.
For sure, firms today have bright spots of insights value – for example, in digital channels, where A/B and other testing approaches enable continuous optimization of customer interactions that matter most to business outcomes. But disparate bright spots are not enough, and businesses must move from insights-spotty to insights-driven. Research by Forrester colleagues Brian Hopkins, James McCormick, and Ted Schadler paints the picture of what great looks like in insights-driven business. Such firms organize and operate differently to take advantage of data and analytics in every aspect of their products and operations, and that closed-loop approach is embedded everywhere in the organization. That's the end goal. Customer insights teams must up their game now, and a center of excellence (CoE) is a first step.
Over the past few months, following publication of my "Customer Insights Center of Excellence" report , there’s been a significant uptick in questions by insights and analytics teams who want to talk to us about CoEs. That’s a positive sign that firms are feeling the crunch to get more value from their insights functions. What’s the evidence for that conclusion? What can we learn from who’s asking about insights CoEs? And most importantly, what really matters in how you organize?
Before we dig in to answers, let’s set the bar on what “great” looks like in truly customer obsessed organizations: they use data for insights to improve customer experience that matters most to business outcomes. As my colleagues James McCormick, Brian Hopkins, and Ted Schadler write in their recent report, "The Insights-Driven Business," customer obsessed businesses act on insights in closed loops, at speed, and at scale in all parts of the firm. They embed analytics and testing directly into operating teams. And, firms who implement these approaches run faster and fleeter than you. The pressure is on from insights-driven organizations.
The questions below may sound familiar to you. I hear them from leaders of business insights teams of all kinds, from quant to qual, digital analytics to database marketing, customer analytics to voice of customer, market research to competitive intelligence, campaigns to customer service, behaviorial to predictive, B2C to B2B, CPG to pharma – you name it:
"I lead our [name the insights area[s] here] team. We’re struggling to get our business and operational areas to take action on insights – heck, sometimes we don’t even know what happens to the insights we provide. How do we change this?"
"Our insights teams work in silos that have built up over the years. The teams are good at what they do. But how do we pull together and combine our different flavors of insights to get more customer understanding? How should we organize?"
"I've been asked to re-organize [or, I'm new and I've taken over] our insights areas. I need to give a presentation to the C-team about what I'll propose. Any ideas on a framework I should use?"