“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” – Dr. Seuss

Business Insights (BI). How’s that for a loaded term? Everyone talks about it, but the whole theme of BI in marketing seems to be overwhelming the industry. So, how has talking about something so sensical, somehow become ambiguous? From the boardroom to the broadsheet, BI has become a term that baffles, confuses and alludes its audience without actually explaining anything of value.

Firstly, I find the way a lot of people talk about ‘insights’ and what they are, pretty unhelpful. On the surface, an insight may simply look like a number, fact or statistic (and that’s what a lot of people believe to be the case), but the truth is; insights are none of those things – all of the aforementioned is just data. Insight is about the interpretation, understanding and context of data to uncover truths. And, that’s why, as an industry, we’re not moving very quickly to embrace what BI can do for us.

Now, that we’ve cleared up what BI actually is, the idea seems simple enough, right? The reality of implementation, on the other hand, is quite different. This is where we need to focus efforts in our industry. The way that we make these truths work for our businesses will drive results and help create successful and collaborative teams, all in the name of the customer.

With that in mind, here are three things to bear in mind when looking to make BI work for your organisation…

1. Embrace the Uncomfortable:

When trying to use BI across your whole organisation to drive change, you’re going to find yourself in uncharted waters. Opening yourself up to such a task can be daunting to say the least. While, I there are sometimes great reasons not to take that leap, fear is not one of them. Lean into the discomfort, it’s worth it. By engaging with different and unfamiliar areas of your organisation to share insights and stories, you can drive change and increase your knowledge – not to mention your personal profile.

You don’t need to be a bona fide expert in Supply if you’re in a Marketing role, but by learning more, you become a better marketer – isn’t that a no-brainer? I already mentioned that Insights are about the interpretation, understanding and context of data to uncover new truths – but no one holds the totality of truth in their lap, you need other people to build the bigger picture and you won’t do that by sticking to what you know

2. Be Tolerant:

It’s all very well running to the Manufacturing Department or the Quality Control Manager and playing havoc because a bad batch of sofa cushions has dented your Average Review Rates across your store, but in reality, do you know what they’re struggling with? Never enter a meeting with a stakeholder with an agenda to criticise, enter with an agenda to explore and learn more. If this sofa cushion batch is a one-off, you need to find out what, why and when. Criticism won’t get you answers, and without answers you can’t move forward. Tolerance is key.

As an outsider, we are always pretty limited in our understanding, so don’t walk straight in to a meeting and tell someone that the work they’re doing sucks. Walk in to learn what they need, how you can help and what needs to happen. You’ll find that you’re respected more and you will learn more. That leads quite nicely on to my next piece of advice…

3. Keep the Customer at the Centre:

Why are we here? No, I don’t mean that in some sort of deep existential way (that’s for another day), what I actually mean is – we all work for one organisation. That means we all work on behalf of the same customer. When feeding BI from the marketplace to the manufacturing line, it’s important to remember that all of us serve the same customer, no matter which department you sit in – it’s this very face that makes BI discussions worth your time and efforts. It’s all of our jobs to delight the customer.

On this theme, we also seem to have landed ourselves in a culture of ‘feedback’ being perceived as negative. So, when we look at ‘bettering’ or ‘improving’ our customer experience, we only ever focus on the bad, which I believe is totally wrong and manifests a culture which is counter-productive . The responsibility on shifting this preconception lies with us here and now – and it’s a pretty easy shift to make. Remember that sharing positive insights from the marketplace and around the business is just as important and people will appreciate your praise and be grateful for you noticing their efforts. Just think of how you’d react.

So, there are my three things to bear in mind. It’s not a checklist or an instruction manual but I hope it serves to demystify Business Insights in some way. Data is just data. Insights tell stories, just as every individual and organisation is different, so is how we tackle insight. Harnessing BI is a great way to unite your organisation, bringing together manufacturing, marketing and everything in between – and all in the name of the consumer…

…We’re reaching the end now and you’re probably wondering where the Dr. Suess quote came in to this story? Well, it didn’t, but I haven’t forgotten about it. I just think it’s a great reminder that we control the ability to change our organisations. We not only have the mindfulness to make our things better by using BI, we also have access to the tools. It’s disruption in the name of the customer experience.

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