Throughout 2017, insights executives from the world’s leading consumer brands met at Insights Executive Roundtables to look at the impact AI will have on their profession. A recurring theme in every discussion was the ROI of consumer insights. Read on to discover the key takeaways from these top-level discussions.
Executives in publicly listed, financially driven organizations are increasingly required to report their contributions to sales shares and the bottom line on a quarterly basis. For privately held organizations and cooperatives, the guiding light for ROI is usage. All executives agree that an insight can only deliver a return to the business “when we do something with it”
Executives agree that the precondition for efficiency is to bring all knowledge and insights together on one data platform, including primary, syndicated, business intelligence, social, video, panel and call centre data, so nothing is overlooked. This data tsunami is simply no longer feasible for humans to process, so AI plays a key role by efficiently connecting the dots in a way that makes sense for the business.
Once the central insights platform is in place, further efficiency savings are easy to identify starting with accelerated speed to insight. Executives compared notes on time and effort reductions in finding answers to a business question on their platforms. A consensus emerged around typical savings of up to ten hours per question, as managers no longer had to open and read documents, consult with colleagues, and summarize findings (the platform does it for them with a one-click report).
Tremendous efficiency gains are also achieved when executives automate their research processes as an integrated application on their insights platform. This means a research manager can identify the business questions that need to be addressed and then run a knowledge check to see what the organization already knows about the subject before commissioning new research. This simple but prudent mechanism has delivered savings of 15-25% on the annual research spend while freeing up scarce resources to focus on new and emerging areas for fresh insight.
“Inspire with insight and embed insight in processes.”
Executives also shared efficiency initiatives they had configured into their insight platforms. For example, research managers in one client organization enter the savings they achieve in the life of a research project in a dedicated text field.
Measuring effectiveness is much more challenging, which is why executives are extending their insights platforms to marketing and innovation workflows. This guarantees that relevant insights are directly injected into the “job to be done.”As a consequence, the impact of a groundbreaking insight can be traced across multiple initiatives.
A good way to get this process started is to document case studies where research results had a substantial and direct impact on the business; for example, U&A studies where a guiding insight could trigger a new positioning, and/or product category. Once identified, these anecdotal case studies can be used to create gold standards for effectiveness. It’s even better when gold standards are shared amongst non-competing peers to establish industry benchmarks.
While the road to full transparency on the impact of insights on efficiencies and effectiveness is a long one, executives agree that marketing insights platforms can provide the most direct route.