Digital has changed the game for many businesses. The most drastic examples are the ones that are no longer with us, or are shadows of their former selves - Kodak, Blockbuster or Nokia. But almost all companies are threatened - not by new business models, but by rising customer expectations driven by the likes of Google, Netflix and Amazon. Your model might be perfectly safe, but suddenly the customer starts to expect that the interaction they had with your brand through email is reflected in how your website and call centre treats them. The customer always expects more.
Insight driven, not data-driven
What do those new digital-native companies have in common? Most people would argue that those companies are successful because they are data driven. We prefer using the term “insight driven”. Why?
First of all, data by itself is meaningless. It is only after you extract a meaning from it that data can deliver an insight, and you can act on that insight. This is the operational angle.
Secondly - data is scary, but you can often derive insights with a little or no data. This is the behavioural angle. You can ask anyone in any B2C industry to talk about data, and 90% will react with an allergic reaction, recalling accounting lectures at university, requests to the IT department that would take weeks to complete or struggling with crashing Excel files at 1am, the night before a big presentation. Insights are easy - they can be as simple as a sentence or two that arises from observation and qualitative evidence and hunches long before you have quantified it into a spreadsheet ("Customers who walk into a store and cannot find product A normally buy product B").
The first requirement: writing it down
Moving your team and your business toward becoming insight driven is easier than most of our clients think. The first step is insanely easy: you need to write it down. If it is not written down, it hasn't happened. Commit to just writing things down.
Step 1: Write down your insight. It doesn't have to be fancy. You can make it as old school, or as technologically advanced as you want. Some options include:
Install a whiteboard in a common area of your office
Share a Google Doc with everyone in your team
Use a document management tool like SharePoint
Deploy a specialised insight management tool like Nela
Hot Tip: Go to your tool of choice and write down an insight that you have that you do not believe that someone else has NOW. Trust me on this one. Do it NOW.
Step 2: Allow people to comment on the insight. Thinking is a team sport. If you get other people's opinions, chances are you will improve your insight, or get more out of it. They will also probably be able to help you with Step 3.
Hot Tip: find someone in your organisation who might get a kick out of an insight you have, and share it directly with that person. It does not have to be related to their work. People love trivia. But this action will mean that at least one more person is looking at the insight, and knows you are interested in what they find. Once people are engaged, they can begin to connect the dots. You are just giving them access to the dots.
Step 3: Act on an insight. An insight is meaningless unless you use it to do something. Drive action. Launch a test. Send an email using the message the insight suggests, or change your website so it gives visitors a fresh thought, or ask one of your call centre operators to behave differently and track how the calls go.
Hot Tip: You don’t need an unanimous decision from all stakeholders. Not everyone has to agree with the action that comes out of an insight - some people might be better in interpreting facts than others. If the action is small enough—a proof of concept; a test run—chances are no-one will pay much attention. Just fly under the radar. Ask for forgiveness, rather than a permission.
Step 4: Observe the results of the test, and update the insight as necessary. Creating a feedback loop is key. If you do not know whether acting on the insight drove value, you will never be able to improve your project’s efforts. Guess what is the key action after observing a result? Yes, writing it down. Back to Step 1!
Hot Tip: If someone gave you valuable input into your insight, make sure you share the result of your test. You will create a positive feedback loop for them as well - a little dopamine hit will make them as excited about looking at the results of your tests as they get from checking the number of likes on their latest Facebook post.
Our experience in helping organisations tackle digital transformations is consistent with personal change programs (think weight loss, exercise regimes, quitting any addictive substance). We described the rules governing them in another article, but the key is always STARTING.
Becoming more insight driven will be similar. Look at the Step 1 and the action you (hopefully) took. You are already on your way to building an insight driven organisation!