Shifting from insights to action – why many organisations fail

Collect data and you can glean nuggets of wisdom and opportunity for your organisation. This has been one of the truisms of corporate management for more than 70 years. It is no secret that most large organisations gather oceans of data relating to their customer behaviours, product usage, and consumer interests.

But extracting insights and value from that data still often relies upon ad-hoc analysis, and a lot of manual effort. Automatically producing reports and publishing them in a dashboard certainly simplifies ad-hoc analysis, but most organisations still rely on people to generate specific actionable insights from that ocean of data.  

Formulating a tactical (or strategic response) to insights is also required. This is where many organisations fall short. Acting upon the insights may require new products or services, or significant adjustment to existing products or service delivery.

Changes may involve adjustments to business processes and workforce training. It could also require adjustments to key performance indicators, ways of working and culture, and workforce incentives. 

Time to market is critically important to consider, and can be very substantial. If the time to market is too long, the opportunity uncovered by an insight may no longer exist. Building significant flexibility into a service delivery model is a non-trivial exercise, from both an infrastructure perspective, and from a workforce perspective.

Apart from potentially missing a window of opportunity, the return on investment from an insight is likely to flow from the point at which you are able to deliver changes to ways of working, or deliver the modified / new product.

Seizing opportunities and choosing optimisations

When formulating insights and service delivery models, the overall strategic goals of the organisation really do matter.

Optimisation typically requires customer segmentation, which then is used as the premise for adjustments to product / service design.

Some examples of measures that might be used for optimisation programs include:

  • customer lifetime value
  • cost of sale
  • cost of production
  • customer satisfaction scores
  • measures of product consistency / quality
  • or a combination of factors 

Once the focus of the optimisation effort is known, then further insights can be generated. In many situations, adjusting existing customer segments and / or adding new segments, should be considered as part of the analysis.

Cycles of innovation

Rapid cycles of insight generation and product / service redesign can also help accelerate the extraction of any return. Ideally, continuous improvement methodologies should be implemented within the organisation.

As the needs of customers change, the data collected should generate meaningful signals. These signals should help guide the next round of customer segmentation, workflow change, and adjustments to product design and service delivery.

If an organisation is not attempting to optimise performance, then the question becomes simple. What will be measured, and how much is “good enough”?

Responding to opportunities is likely to require change. Some organisations choose to limit their opportunities for change, to minimise the effort and costs involved, and sidestep complexities.

A “good enough” approach is often characterised by a limited range of “lowest common denominator” style services and products, with very infrequent changes to product or service delivery.

This type of approach is often described to customers as being “no-frills” or “value for money”. It is essentially aimed at limiting product change, rather than producing tailored solutions for highly targeted segments, or personalised offerings. Correspondingly, this approach is often managed by maintaining a fixed level of costs, and refining service delivery within the existing workflows, systems, and products.

While a “lowest common denominator” style approach can make use of analytics capabilities to report and maintain operational performance, it is much less likely to actually be in a position to extract a return from customer related insights, as product offerings and service delivery are typically quite static.

Reducing your time to market

The latest generation of digital self-service and workflow automation tools provide significant improvements in flexibility, and can enable rapid service redesign and implementation. This means that product and service delivery changes can be delivered rapidly, and at significantly lower cost.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence tools can also improve the capabilities of insights analysis. If insights can be actioned rapidly at reasonable cost, then there is value in generating insights more frequently, and hence a potential for generating much higher returns from automating the insights generation process. 

But as previously discussed, many organisations struggle to action insights, and it is a very big “if”.

By combining ongoing workforce capability uplift with the latest workflow and insights automation technology, organisations can also consider using their short time to market to deliver highly personalised and individualised customer experiences.

In essence, the investment in automation of insights generation can potentially generate a significant return, particularly in situations where you can consistently achieve a short time to market, and rapidly implement workflow changes and business improvements.

Here are four actions leaders can take to extract real value from their customer insights, to rapidly enhance customer experience and customer lifetime value.

1) Gather the right information to allow optimisation

You need to be able to optimise for various customer segments, and potentially offer personalised user experiences. This means gathering data that helps your organisation to understand your customers, the customer experience, and service delivery performance / quality across the various workflows and customer touch points.

3) Accelerate the deployment of optimisations

Empower working groups within your organisations to action insights. Accelerate the cycle of insights analysis, product / service redesign, and change implementation.

2) Embed continuous improvement

This could involve adjustments to organisational strategy, ways of working, workforce skills, workplace culture, and possibly require additional digital infrastructure.

4) Update your organisational strategy 

Your organisation’s strategic plan may need to be updated to help embed continuous improvement methodologies, and guide optimisation. Adjustments may also be needed to operating model, resource allocation, and performance goals.

Whitepaper: Shifting from Insights to Action

Learn more about extracting value from data insights, and our four key recommended actions for leaders.

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