Getting more value out of your insights

Insights are more important than ever for companies aiming for growth, but turning observations, information and data into actionable insights can be hard. And managing insights to ensure a long-term value can be even harder. However, a structured mapping of insights across the organization can help you pave the road to success.

David Zimmermann
‍—Partner, strategist

Insights can be derived from many different sources – from quantitative research, data and statistics to qualitative studies, observations, and interviews. Furthermore, insights are collected at many different abstraction levels from operational to strategic, where they often serve a purpose in a specific situation, hence leading to a decision and activity within the company.  

As a result, companies collect a huge amount of data and gain many insights that serve the company well on a short term, but often end up losing overview of all the knowledge they’ve accumulated in a fragmented organisational landscape.

To ensure an overview of insights that enable employees to revisit and continuously bring insights into play, it can be valuable to create a unique company format for insights that makes them available in different contexts across the organisation. Furthermore, all insights should be mapped with a proper set of attributes ensuring they can be found, validated, and reused, when needed.  

An easy way of mapping insights can be to create an overview of insights in a 2 by 2 matrix looking at frequency of gathering data or research on one scale and the abstraction level from strategic to operational on the other.  Situational research is conducted as a one-off, when your company needs specific information, or when agencies and suppliers provide you with insights as foundation for a solution to a specific problem. These have a high timeliness and relevance to the problem at hand, but risk being outdated over time.  

On the other hand, frequent insights are derived from recurring analysis and data on a daily, monthly, or annual basis, e.g., online statistics, customer satisfaction or the annual benchmark analysis. These tend to give insights of more general character and serve better for indication of trends and tendencies, in many cases at the cost of high accuracy to the problem at hand.

The frequency axis will help provide an overview in terms of the validity of your research, as this gives you an idea of which insights will provide trends over time and when insights might become obsolete.  

On the other axis companies should consider, to which extent they are building insights that serve strategy, tactics, or day-to-day operations. Strategic insights support management-decisions about the overall direction of the company, organizational development, e.g., brand, market or competitor analysis. In contrast, operational insights typically give clear indications on continuous improvements e.g., customer service feedback, web-statistics, performance indicators.

By mapping the insights that already exist in the matrix, companies can build an understanding of their current composition of insights. This can be used to prioritize and plan research and data collection moving forward to ensure a living image of the reality that surrounds the company, rather than an outdated, distorted image with many uncovered angles. Hence, providing a solid foundation for decisions and enabling the competitive edge to ensure growth.  

The matrix described above is a simple tool to start building an overview as part of your insights management program.   In our experience from working with large Danish and international companies, many tend to collect lots of operational data with a high frequency, particularly online stats from customer service, SoMe, website, and marketing campaigns. However, the data is rarely translated into actionable insights and are almost never made available the entire organisation. On the other hand, many insights are found in situation specific analysis both strategically and operationally, but companies often fail to put these insights into a broader context of the organisation, hence these fail to give value over time.    

To ensure long term value of insights the above matrix is a good place to start. Furthermore, companies should consider are building a clear insights strategy, developing a standard company format for insights with key attributes, installing an insights platform and ensuring a strong learning and collaborating culture within the company.  

David Zimmermann
Founding partner & Strategist