Terah Putman, Director of Next Generation Insights at the Kellogg Company, answered company leaders’ calls to fearlessly democratize the organization’s insights so stakeholders could self-service knowledge for a truly insights-driven company. The move aligned with the Kellogg Company’s restructures to a matrix organization—a transformation to less silos, increased integration between units and category teams, and a focus on insights as one of the foundational growth drivers for the company.
Insights bogged down by siloed, decentralized knowledge
Before Kellogg’s implemented their Market Logic platform “Ask Kiri,” their insights files were everywhere and answering business questions became a monumental task. “It was a huge resource drain for someone in an insights role with a lot of competing priorities to spend the time curating knowledge in a way that’s effective for a person who’s urgently asking,” Terah explains.
Insights partners’ time evaporated in the process of wrangling information, from long lists of subscriptions, logins, share drives, and industry news sites. “We’d also have to chase down all of the different people who might have pieces and parts of the picture, going through all your own personal files, asking the last person who worked on that project or brand,” Terah says.
“It became a running joke in insights, where we’d say: ‘Someone just asked me a question and expected me to back up the research truck and offload a mountain of information without realizing the effort behind it,’” says Terah.
Insights constrained by scarce expert-to-stakeholder ratio
Not only was decentralized information a drain on insights pros’ time but a limited expert-to-stakeholder ratio at the organization was a major challenge to the company’s insights-driven business goal. And after the company transitioned to a matrix organization, the demand for insights increased, putting even more pressure on insights partners.
“There’s a hunger for insights across the breadth of partners, from research and development, commercial strategy, marketing, brand marketing and innovation, as well as people from the agency side, in packaging, advertising, any of the in-store shopper support managers,” Terah says.
In earlier configurations, “Ask Kiri” was positioned as a digital research library for easy access mainly by the insights team but, as the organization evolved, the platform in its previous form simply wasn’t giving the insights team the reach they needed.
“Our challenge was: how do we reach the business with insights when 36 experts are serving 47 brands, and each expert is serving 9 or 10 stakeholders?” Terah says.
“Ask Kiri” democratizes insights with self-service tools
“When we migrated to the next-generation Market Logic platform last year, we decided to democratize the data,” Terah says. “If we’re going to be an insights-driven organization, we need to reach everyone with our insights.”
Democratizing Ask Kiri’s insights meant tearing down silos in the way the database was originally built while also spreading the word to everyone in the organization that expert business insights were at their fingertips. “We did a major rollout with townhall meetings and invited every employee, down to the people in our plants, to come and learn about what was on Ask Kiri and how they could leverage the platform,” Terah says.
Ask Kiri brings business intelligence altogether in one, easy-to-access insights platform so stakeholders can self-service knowledge with one simple login.
“All our past research projects, important sources like Mintel and Euromonitor, and numerous other industry news sources are available in Ask Kiri so that it becomes a one-stop-shop,” Terah says. “We’re really trying to drive this behavior pattern of search for yourself, self-service, and start there.”
Unique knowledge zones answer hot-topic questions
Ask Kiri features in-depth knowledge zones on hot-button topics, so everyone can access expert-curated answers to the questions on everyone’s minds. For example, in order to reach the diverse interests of younger generations, the insights team knows stakeholders need an in-depth understanding of multicultural and diversity-inclusion marketing, not mass marketing. So Terah’s team curated an “Omni-culture: New Gen Market” knowledge zone where stakeholders can gain an intimate understanding of their younger consumers for truly consumer-centric decision-making.
Likewise, Ask Kiri’s uniquely curated “Occasions” knowledge zone gives stakeholders an occasion-based sundial to understand consumer behaviour linked to holidays and seasons, so marketers are prepped with timely seasonal insights throughout the year. Stakeholders can also easily self-service insights in the “COVID/Recession” knowledge zone, linking insights about the coronavirus pandemic’s impact with federal supplemental nutrition programs. These knowledge hubs ensure everyone is on the pulse of the rapidly changing global consumer landscape anytime they need to be—no waiting in line for an answer.
Fearlessly changing behaviour at Kellogg’s
Everything within the Kellogg’s culture is driven on insights as the foundation for growth, Terah says, posing the question: “How can insights be the foundation for growth if everyone doesn’t have access to them?”
“Even going all the way back to our founder Mr Kellogg, one of our key values and something we’re constantly asked to do is to work across organizational barriers and break down internal barriers,” Terah explains, “For that reason, we continue to champion that the value of open collaborative transparency is much greater than any fear of democratized insights.”
While older versions of the Kellogg’s insights platform were intentionally ring-fenced for use by insights experts, the next-gen Kellogg’s insights platform is enabling a much larger cultural shift.
“We’re really trying to institutionalize that idea of ‘If you have a question—ask Kiri.’ It’s in our email signatures, it’s something we talk about at team meetings,” Terah says, “We really want people to go there first for information, and then seek out additional help if they can’t get to exactly what they’re looking for. This has driven a lot of behavior change – we have seen a huge jump in the average monthly users.”