Transforming insights into action at Coca-Cola

Last November, we heard how Stephanie Eaddy, then Global Growth Director at Coca-Cola’s The McDonald’s Division (TMD), trailblazed AI-powered insights at the Coca-Cola Company. Nine months later, she joined us once more for an ESOMAR webinar to explain how insights-driven planning processes are being transformed with Coke’s market insights platform, Insights Connect.

Coca-Cola is one of the world’s most beloved brands, standing strong across a federation of business units. But the pandemic presented its fair share of challenges, prompting the organization to simplify supply chain processes and place more intense focus on employees, systems, and of course, providing refreshing beverages to consumers.

In addition, limited resources and the pressures of working from home meant the global Coca-Cola TMD business needed to do more with less, as well as ensure that small markets got the same level of service as larger markets.

The need transform insights into action

Coca-Cola has long been an active partner in co-creations with Market Logic since the early days of their first European pilot. Over the past two years, under Stephanie’s leadership, TMD came on board to drive even more innovation and trail blaze the first community to adopt the next generation of Market Logic technology.

The change stemmed from the need to move faster and more effectively with insights, and streamline the transformation from insights into action. After a number of stakeholder interviews and design thinking sessions, TMD came to the conclusion that AI would help them deliver new ways of working with insights. They jumped on board with the Insights Connect platform, which helped them move into a self-service model for insights gathering.

“The pandemic has made focusing on consumers more important than ever, and Insights Connect has been one of the key vehicles for sharing information as quickly as possible.” (Stephanie Eaddy, Global Marketing Director)

The next gen AI-powered insights platform

The new AI-powered insights platform is personalized, so every user sees the content they need. Intelligent homepages present the latest updates on all content: primary research, secondary sources and industry newsfeeds. “My Feed” recommends content based on reading behavior, and channels promote strategic topics curated by experts.

When a user asks a question, AI algorithms analyze all content in the search results and auto-summarize the key findings inside each documents—users can read all answers in a minute, no need to open every document. Strategic knowledge is pushed to marketers on their homepages, with Q&A functionalities when they want to know more.

Knowledge Zones are super easy to update, with alerts when new content becomes available. TMD is leveraging trailblazing technology to build a data-driven muscle that grows the business with insights.

The new platform has helped TMD think differently about how they want to work. The two most important use cases for the TMD team were:

  1. Democratizing information and getting fast answers to business questions from all research, secondary sources and newsfeeds.
  2. Using Knowledge Zones to curate and promote insights on strategic topics.

It’s important to have ”content and context,” said Stephanie. “When experts lead storytelling on how insights can lead to action, new, better habits start to form.”

Building better habits

Change management can so often make or break the success of a new tool. TMD managed change with “carrots” (creation of a cross-functional pilot group and SteerCo where internal influencers who could model and support the platform and feel like they’re part of the solution.

Influencers were rewarded for their time through public recognition, points and other rewards) and “sticks” (removal of old ways of accessing data, and the use of a critical business initiative or delivery to help force the change).

Their efforts have paid off: when you put the entire enterprise on the platform, there has been tremendous growth. Globally, the Insights Connect platform boasts 100k self-service searches conducted annually, with 20k projects logged into the system, 2,000 active users, and tons of syndicated documents and studies along with proprietary research.

Stephanie says the numbers “Are a great example of how pulling everything together in one place can create impressive stickiness and tremendous value”.

Lemons into lemonade: new ways of working in a pandemic

In early 2020, TMD realized that the global pandemic was going to put a wrench in their plans to gather in person in Miami to kick start the annual planning cycle. This annual gathering is vital – it’s the place where the entire team shares its vision and direction, and subject matter experts share important insights.

Instead of postponing the process, Stephanie and her team decided to use Insights Connect as a galvanizing instrument through their now remote planning process. They made the best of the situation by pushing the tool further—experts curated information up front, combined it with key context, and provided it to teams to access in a self-service model for planning.

This forced change allowed the teams to re-examine old routines, including in-person meetings, and introduce new ways of working. The insights platform included relevant insights and supporting documents, business planning templates so each market could complete their tasks and activation playbooks. Insights Connect became a one-stop-shop for planning and implementation.

“Insights Connect is now an enabling transformation tool, that represents the voice of our insights team, and the galvanizer for a new way of working.” (Stephanie Eaddy, Global Marketing Director)

Once everyone was on the same page, smaller markets that had been having trouble accessing information were able to see everything they needed at the same time as larger markets.

All of the information on the platform is carefully planned and curated to minimize the time spent hunting, and maximize the time spent strategizing for the market. What’s more, output goes into a standardized template and is delivered to partners in a unified way.

Best practices for implementation

Stephanie shared some valuable best practices for implementing a market insights platform. First and foremost, it’s important to understand your internal challenges. Once you establish them, you can build a case study for internal support and alignment to launch a pilot program. Don’t be tempted to skip change management to help support the transition to a new way of working.

Looking forward, this new way of working will likely remain in place, with hopefully an eventual return to the occasional in-person planning sessions (in Miami!).