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At our executive panel with Forrester, American Express, Colgate-Palmolive, Mondelez and The Home Depot, we heard how some of the world’s leading brands drive insights centricity with their Centers of Excellence (CoE). Cinny Little, Forrester principal analyst, recommends a “hub and spoke” model for CoEs, which was roundly endorsed in practice by the panellists.

To enable the personalization of insights from the hub all the way out through the spokes of any CoE, technology is essential. Throughout the conversation, the panel described their own CoEs and the human skills that are essential for business impact. There was a general consensus on the importance of technology to scale that impact, as well as to enhance human skills.

We heard from Richard Thorogood, VP, Global Head of CMI at Colgate-Palmolive, who said that a critical piece of the CoE’s success at Colgate-Palmolive is the effective sharing of knowledge and building of best practices. Their market insights platform, (The DIG Platform – Driving Insights Globally), is an integral part of insights delivery. “We just wouldn’t be able to build better learning, have a consistent framework, and move people successfully around the organization without it,” Richard said.

At American Express, where there are around 50 insights people and 500 marketeers, Philip Chambers, VP and Global Head of Insights, is a big fan of technology. “That’s where data platforms really make a difference. We think of our Market Logic platform as a Bloomberg Terminal for marketeers. Just like it would be inconceivable for a trader to work without the Bloomberg Terminal, it would be inconceivable for a marketeer to work without Market Logic!”

And according to Brendan Baby, Head of CX, Strategy, & Analytics at The Home Depot, the CoE is “first and foremost focused on delivering meaningful and useful insights,” while the business is all about driving business outcomes. A key enabler? Having a “centralized platform” like their market insights platform, The Insights Depot. He asserts that insights leaders need to be “involved in the development and design of the tech stack – because that structure informs what you can and cannot do with your data”.

Paola Vacchini, Director, Consumer Insights & Analytics Europe at Mondelez said that COVID-19 brought about an explosion in demand for insights. Thanks to their market insights platform called iQuest, “we were able to generate infrastructure for sharing, and we were able to rely on the information that we already had in the company – so we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel all the time!”

Cinny Little agreed with the panelists, saying “more people have to be able to use more data for more insights for decision making, and technology absolutely enables that – as long as it’s well connected with the users that need it.”

For each of the panelists, the decision to deploy a market insights platform for the delivery of insights and quality decisions at scale has been an integral part of their strategies for success.