September 29, 2020

Read time: 8min

Insights executive roundtable: learnings and experiences from day 2

Market Logic Team

After a successful first day of learnings and experiences from client partners across the globe, day two of the Insights Executive Roundtable was chock full of even more valuable insights. We heard from top executives at American Express, Bayer, Colgate Palmolive, EON, Dyson, Fonterra, Home Depot, Mondelez, Nomad Foods, Proximus, Shell and Toyota.

Despite their diverse levels of experience with market insights platforms, ranging from pre-launch to veterans, we heard a common refrain: the COVID-19 pandemic has crystallized the profound need for insights teams to advise the business.

Smooth roll-outs, best launch practices

First up, four insights executives shared their best practices to launch and rollout insights platforms during the pandemic. Laura Craft, Insights Manager at Nomad Foods, described how their “Insights On Demand” platform transformed her department “from the dinosaur age of multiple share drives, where people in different markets didn’t have access to the same information.” Now, said Laura, centralized insights are delivered with very fast turnaround.

Annalena Lahav, Customer Insights Manager at Bayer, agreed. Their “Quest” platform launched as a pilot program in 2019, where feedback was so overwhelmingly positive it will be broadened soon to include Oncology and Cardiovascular Health. And at Proximus, Belgium’s largest communications and ICT provider, Luc Rooms, Head of Market & Competition said their “Market and Customer Knowledge Center,” which is now in pre-launch phase, is already destined for a broad audience.

“We wanted to create a digital environment for our employees to enable them to make smarter decisions going forward,” said Luc. To prepare, his team conducted in-depth interviews with internal stakeholders to create personalized homepages and curated zones around strategic topics like COVID and 5G.

At Mondelez, said Julie Anne Philip, Director Consumer Insights & Analytics, a driving force behind introducing the global “iQuest” platform in the new Canadian business unit was the need to leverage the power of a global organization at the local level. They can now embed insights and analytics to spur curiosity across the organization – not just among insights teams.

In a lively Q&A session, the panelists discussed “rules” of engagement. Laura Craft noted that time-starved executives are hungry for good content. Her team sends out informative “teasers” to drive engagement on the platform among all user groups. Another key driver of usage, said Julie Anne Philip, is finding champions who are ready to evangelize the platform internally.

Storytelling with an insights platform

Tim Opie, GM Global Insights & Strategic Planning at Fonterra described the dairy giant’s “Insight Farm” platform as a central place to “reuse insights, remove wasted marketing sales time, reduce duplication of work, and drive insights ROI”.

This empowers the insights team to reallocate time for storytelling, where Tim cited four key success factors: a cohesive storyline, a continuous, current conversation, inside out connections between insights and business teams and actionability recommendations. By way of example, he shared the company’s Covid-19 knowledge zone, which synthesized key information from 20 incoming pieces of content every day to deliver a GPS Wayfinding system for the business.

Brendan Baby, Director Consumer Strategy and Intelligence at The Home Depot, added his perspective to the mix. Brendan pointed out that his insights team is different from many, with key hires come from consulting firms like BCG and McKinsey who guide the business firstly by serving as strategic partners, and then as a research function. “We serve as strategic advisors who happen to use research to inform the decisions we’re helping people make”, Brendan explained.

“We’re storytellers for the brand, storytellers for the customer within the brand, and also strategic partners throughout the business. A huge part of the reason we’re able to do that is The Insights Depot where we leverage at least $45 million worth of insights for better, faster, easier decisions”. Take COVID, for example: thanks to their COVID knowledge zone, Brendan said The Home Depot was able to roll out curbside delivery within three weeks of the lockdown.

At Toyota, Jon Ciarletta, Director Consumer Insights & Analytics TMNA, said that while their insights platform “The Loop,” is only one year old, it’s already a big part of how the organization democratizes data and insights. In this context, he described 2020 as “a great opportunity to really shine and provide the information our executives need.”

Jon said their Covid-19 knowledge zone had become the de facto source for all consumer research and trackers, together with adjacent work from Voice of Customer, BI and Dealership teams. Atop this single source of truth, he crafts a 30,000-foot view of the week that help executives and stakeholders make sense of the overwhelming volume of information. In this sense, Jon says “We don’t call it a knowledge management system – it’s an insight platform, because that’s what we’re producing”.

At Dyson, said Tom Fitzgerald, Senior Insight Manager, they’re all about “telling a bigger picture.” With a wide range of products that span various markets, retail store drop-offs during COVID made an impact. Understanding that retail landscape was made easy with their market insights platform, “Searchable.”

Using knowledge zones, they were able to collaborate with other intelligence and analytics teams to synthesize various sources of information from around the business and quickly turn these into stories and insights for good decision making.

Tom said this was especially helpful for senior stakeholders, who are keen to get as many insights as they can as quickly as they can, to make very rapid decisions, without reaching out to six or more different teams for guidance.

Summing up, we asked panellists what makes a great story. Brendan recalled his early career as a high school history teacher, where he learned that “making students memorize dates and events is bound to bore them, but if you bring a story to life, it becomes a living, breathing entity they’ll remember forever.”

Jon added that it’s important to keep stories simple. He has a “three bullet point rule,” to help his team do the hard work of focusing stakeholders’ attention on the essentials.

Business impact of an insights platform

To wrap up the roundtable, two of the world’s foremost leaders in insights, Phillip Chambers, VP, Global Head of Insights at American Express and Richard Thorogood, VP, Global Head of Consumer and Market Insights at Colgate-Palmolive, joined us for a discussion on the business impact of their established enterprise insights platforms.

At American Express, said Phillip, the core mission of their platform, the “Insights Hub,” is to connect the business with insights – every marketer, every day – so insights become part of their become “part of their day to day work, part of their capability, part of their decision making that goes well beyond the individual transactions” involved in commissioning and receiving guidance from individual transactions with the insights team.

The result is a profound shift from project work to a platform that works as “a catalyst that allows us to project insights and connect insights to four and a half thousand people with a team of about fifty”.

Richard added that Colgate’s insights platform, “Driving Insights Globally,” or DIG, is driving the democratization of a $300 million insights asset, so the whole organization “knows what it knows.” His goal is to make sure that “every year, our commercial organization ends up being smarter than it was the year before, by making the knowledge we acquire easily available”.

Stay tuned for more inspiration as we compile takeaways from the roundtable over the next days.