Developing Business Insights

One of the keys to developing Insights in a business environment is to create a picture from your data by engaging all five of their senses – smell, sight, touch, taste and sound. I have simplified this logic by use of the tree

If you can do this, then your insights development is a success, if not, then you have a lot of work to do. The first steps in insight development will lay the groundwork for the entire piece.

The insight developer must ask him or herself what does the insight being looked for look like? This means you have to choose the right data set aligned to your strategic direction in both contextual and conceptual elements. you cannot develop insights if you dont know the “what and where” you you need the insight for.

How does it smell? Is it financial, Operational, tactical or strategic insight you are looking for?

How does it taste?is it analytical, descriptive or i have to do data mining to feel the “taste” of my insights

So what does it actually mean for an Insight team or function? In essence, an Insight  manager has to develop the following areas of knowledge, understanding and skills:

  • Business and Organisational Knowledge and Understanding. This begins with understanding the principles of how organisations work, with special attention paid to such functions as strategy development and marketing, both of which are heavily dependent upon insight. This then lays the ground for a detailed understanding of ones own organization and the markets in which it operates.
  • Decision Science and Knowledge Management. This covers disciplines such as psychology, neuroscience and behavioural economics, and the way that humans work with information. But then extends to formal and informal techniques and technologies for organising and handling information.
  • Business Engagement Processes  and Functional Management. This covers the ways, both formal and informal, to build stakeholder relationships and to ensure full integration into the business and its processes. It then covers how to provide leadership, team development, planning, systems and third party management to support all the necessary activities. 
  • Issue Analysis and Evaluation. To ensure that the work is addressing the real business problem, and gets to causes and not just symptoms. A crucial part of this is the ability to undertake financial evaluation to be sure that the problems are those that address the greatest opportunities and threats.
  • Insight Generation.  This involves the use of the best information sources and analytical techniques, critically must also solve the many problems of bringing together information from many sources – not least the experience spread across the team. A major part, often overlooked, is also the need to build and maintain comprehensive pictures of whole markets or specific product areas, to provide foresight around coming opportunities and threats, and to provide context for all other work.
  • Insight Delivery and Influence. Finding solutions is of no value if those in the organisation then fail to act. So this area is all about the 4Rs – to ensure that the Right insight reaches the Right people, at the Right time and in the Right format to drive action.

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