Insights-driven organizations place data and insights at the center of their decision-making, giving them a distinct competitive advantage.
According to a report from Forrester Research, advanced insights-driven companies are five times more likely than beginners to report 20% or more annual revenue growth. Additionally, research from McKinsey found that insights-driven organizations are twenty-three times more likely to outperform their competitors in new customer acquisition and nine times more likely to surpass them in customer loyalty.
The most advanced organizations centralize and distribute research findings through an insights engine: a unified system of people, technologies, and processes that turns data into meaningful insights that stakeholders can act on. Like Rome, a successful insights engine can’t be built in a day, but you can start building the foundation now to set yourself and your organization up for the ongoing benefits. And to lay that foundation, it’s essential to think about how you will democratize your insights.
What Are Democratized Insights?
Democratized insights, as the name implies, are accessible to stakeholders across an organization. With a democratized insights model, insights teams don’t just present a report to the line manager who commissioned it and then move on. They preserve their research in a platform that all stakeholders can easily access and search. This gives decision-makers and insights teams a holistic view of research that has been conducted across the organization, extending the value of that research and opening up new opportunities for innovation.
How Democratized Insights Fuel an Advanced Insights Engine
An insights engine takes in data and information from primary and secondary sources and translates them into meaningful learnings. But this intake is just half the equation. It’s equally important to set up the insights engine to put those findings in the hands of the stakeholders who need them. Insights team members must act like marketers, reducing friction for their internal customers to access insights and communicating research in ways that will resonate with the audience.
When stakeholders can log into a single platform and perform a keyword search to get an answer to their research question, they are empowered to use insights in their decision-making. Self-serving from the platform becomes a frictionless process, encouraging stakeholders to regularly revisit and apply insights. The end result is a more data-driven organization.
Let’s take a closer look at how insights democratization improves insights accessibility, discovery, and action.
The accessibility of insights and information has only grown more important since more than half of all knowledge workers worldwide have shifted to working remotely in some capacity. When insights professionals aren’t in the same building or even the same time zone as their stakeholders, it’s crucial to have a system that allows stakeholders to access insights at any time, from anywhere.
Centralization is key here. If stakeholders have to log into multiple research vendor portals or dig through multiple shared folders to find what they are looking for, they are unlikely to make accessing insights a habit. Establishing a single source of truth for all final research materials makes it easy for stakeholders to know where to go when they have a research question and gives them confidence the information they are accessing is current.
Searchability goes hand in hand with accessibility. Stakeholders don’t just need to be able to access all research materials from one location: they need to be able to navigate that wealth of information and quickly find the insights that matter most to them.
To truly democratize insights, organizations need to make all research materials searchable (that includes videos, audio files, slide decks, and PDFs). Stakeholders should be able to perform a keyword search the way they would with Google and see the results that most closely match their search intent, not just their exact keywords. This allows them to find relevant information even when they don’t know the exact name or tags applied to a specific report. It also helps prevent duplicate research by allowing insights team members and stakeholders to search all historical documents for answers to their questions before commissioning new research.
Insights are only valuable if business stakeholders leverage them in their decision-making. Without action, the insights function becomes a cost center rather than a source of strategic advantage. Making insights accessible and searchable are the first steps to democratization, but the most advanced insights teams go one step further and package their findings to make them highly actionable.
Strategic insights teams consider how to make their findings digestible, memorable, and relevant to their audiences. In some cases, this may involve crafting different key takeaways or calls to action for different stakeholder groups. It may also involve repackaging information in different formats to better resonate with the audience (for example, creating a video of customer interview highlights or distilling a 100-page research report into a short slide deck with top takeaways for the C-suite).
The Berkshire Hathaway chemical company Lubrizol (one of our customers) is an excellent example of an organization that strategically packages and distributes insights through a centralized insights platform. More than 2000 employees leverage the insights platform, and their insights teams include bulleted calls to action curated to different stakeholder groups along with their reports. This enables stakeholders to quickly digest key information before doing a deeper dive into a report and helps them start thinking about how they can apply the findings.Building the Foundation for a Powerful Insights Engine
Having a system to translate data and information into actionable insights is increasingly becoming a competitive differentiator. A study of 10,000 business practitioners by Kantar Vermeer found that of the factors that drive customer-centric growth, none is more impactful than an organization’s insights engine.
Any organization that wants to develop a successful insights engine must start laying the foundation through the democratization of their existing insights. Insights democratization reduces friction for stakeholders and helps establish a data-driven culture that places the customer at the center of the decision-making process. Giving stakeholders the power to tap into existing insights whenever they need to, increasing the value and utility of those insights. It also allows stakeholders to engage more directly with those insights, share feedback, and ask questions, which can help drive new research initiatives and turn insights into a renewable resource.