Transforming Insight

July 6, 2021

Jack Miles
Senior Research Director

The Insight Management Academy (IMA) are the world’s leading authority on transforming insight teams. This year, The IMA’s CEO James Wycherley condensed 16 years of The IMA’s thinking into a book – Transforming Insight. The book contains advice across 42 areas that’ll help insight professionals identify value, drive change, manage their teams, optimise insight’s impact and plan for the future. It’s vital reading for insight professionals. If you want to make insight commercially valuable, then glue Transforming Insight to your desk and refer to it daily.

This week we’ll be discussing Transforming Insight’s key learnings. Today, we’re discussing what insight is.

But to do this, we need to know what insight isn’t.

Insight ISN’T research projects

Research projects are part of insight. But they aren’t insight itself. Wycherley says successful insight professionals “must think beyond projects and create a 360 view of a business”.

Instead, research projects need combining to create a fuller view of a business’s customers and marketplace. Ad-hoc insight isolation is our enemy. Ongoing insight consolidation our best friend. As Transforming Insights says, “if organisations are to succeed, they need joined up insights.”

Insight isn’t just outside looking

Often insight professionals view themselves as putting customers ‘in the business’ or providing ‘the outside view’. This is important. But it’s only part of what insights professionals do. Wycherley explains “too often insights professionals forget their internal customers in favour of their external ones.”

Insight professionals’ internal customers are marketing, finance and operations colleagues. Understanding them is as important as understanding external customers in order to create commercially valuable insight.

Transforming Insight reflects this by highlighting the importance of understanding these internal customer’s needs, their language and how to influence them.

Insight IS about creating commercial value

Wycherley states honestly “businesses only invest in insight because they want something out of it.”

And this ‘something’ is commercial value – new revenue streams and more profitable ways of operating – but that’s not all. Insight is about preventing value destruction – defending reputational equity or advising against unprofitable opportunities.

Insight IS about driving change

To be valuable, insight must change how businesses act. As Transforming Insight says, “there’s no point in doing research or analysis unless we then drive change through influence and communication.”

Resultantly, technical insight skills are part of insight professionals’ skillsets. NOT their skillset. Effective communication and persuasion skills are as – if not more – important.  

Insight IS about financial impact

Insight is about culture, consumers, trends and the world at large. But Transforming Insight reminds us that quantifying insights with a £ sign is vital to stop businesses seeing insight as ‘just information’.

Insight’s monetary quantification is more than optics. Transforming Insight emphasises that to succeed insight teams must be influential, drive change and prove insight’s impact. And the reality is, the language of money is more influential in a business than the language of ethnography or statistics.

So now you know what insight is. Over the next three days, we’ll discuss insights’ core ingredients – commercial value, driving change and financial impact – in more detail.

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