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Actioning Insights

Insights are being generated but in some cases are not being used. The first assumption is that these insights aren’t actionable. Which of course might be the case. But why are these insights not actioned? There is a disconnect between people who are utilizing the insight and those providing insights. We discuss how best to ensure real-time insights are actioned in a way that drives the business forward. We recently brought the community together for Actionable Insights…an ATI Gathering for three separate sessions on this topic, covering the metaverse, the American consumer in 2023, and actioning insights.

Put Into Context

Providing insights is not a barrier. Ensuring those insights actually move the needle is the job at hand. Is where the insights are reported the problem? Is it the storytelling that’s the issue? Is the fact that there isn’t rich enough data feeding the insights the conundrum? Or is it all of the above? We discuss solutions to providing and closing the loop on actionable insights.

Panel moderator Polly Speros, Chief Customer Officer, Fuel Cycle, started off the session succinctly: Where the insights are reported, is that the problem?

Isaiah Harvin, Senior Product Manager, User Signals, Disney Streaming, noted that like much in the insights world, the answer to the question depends on the context. “It depends on the context, scale, and how it might differ. How much or little data also depends. It depends on the context.”

Doug Healy, Senior Director, Consumer Insights, Pepsi, agreed. “It depends on where the data is shared. Insights are often seen as part of marketing. Real impact is not just a marketing problem. It’s a business problem to solve. Versus what is the real goal? Are we looped into sales, finance, supply chain departments, cross pollinating insights, to cater to the needs of the different functions, speaking the language to drive impact and the growth.”

For Lindsay Klindt, Director Consumer Insights & Strategy, Tyson Foods, it’s also about keying in to the shifting and evolving consumer. “Understand changing consumer dynamics. This will inform forecasting and many more functions, and to make those functions even better.”

Tom Gould, Director, Constellation Brands, pointed out, “We don’t do a good job between what’s data and what’s insights. And this goes into the delivering of data. How do we democratize data? Make it easier. Embed insights. Not starting from scratch every time.”

Storytelling Benefits

Speros noted this discrepancy of relaying the data and making it easier for stakeholders. “Storytelling: Is it part of the problem, or supporting the solution?”

For Healy, storytelling helps to drive action. “It’s more influential than facts. Stakeholders have to know the information, and emphasizing doesn’t mean broad. Crafting is the most important thing, for the right people at the right time. Be where they are. Repeating insights? Reteach them? Storytelling in general is not the problem, but how we handle it. It has to be grounded in insight.”

“Storytelling is huge for us,” added Disney’s Harvin. “Day to day, all of the elements of the story. Understanding there are players, conflict and then resolution. Actionable insights. Take from the story and the data. Knowing the audience. Reading the room. To craft a compelling data story, knowing how much is important.”

Klindt said, “Activated insight inspires action. It’s the voice of the consumer, with the needs of the business.”

“Tailoring the messaging is important,” said Gould. “Start with the audience. What is the outcome of this conversation? To drive an action? Inform and ask. Put a lot of pressure on each other. Continual dialogue. It’s not a one-time thing: It’s how storytelling fits into the bigger picture.”

Big Data Stories

Speros said, “Let’s turn our attention to Big Data. Doug— is there enough rich data to feed the insights?”

“There is plenty of rich data,” said Healy. “But it’s not always centralized. You have to pull pieces of the puzzle. Pull from different sources. You can have different insights and a driven point of view. But one has to pull it all together into a unified point of view.”

Harvin added, “Especially in the streaming space, a lot of the data gets complicated. There’s got to be an underlying source of truth. Knowing how they tell the same story or metric. It’s fascinating but complex. Deliver insights against priorities.”

Klindt said, “There is no lack of data. Insights as a function is on the rise. There are more questions and high demand. You need to be focused on the right things. The Insights function is at a young life stage. There have been a lot of changes. Leave room, yes, for evolution and continue to question. Consumer food service retail definitely keeps pushing to functions that might not have that data.”

“Is the data rich enough?” asked Gould. “We need to assess what’s on hand, to what we need, to make a decision. Do we need to update everything? Is it a building block?”

Big data doesn’t necessarily mean big changes. Pepsi’s Healy noted, “It’s not always finding the big change. It’s finding the right small change. It’s about an evolution, usually just the right small turn on something. One percent matters. Bringing together two teams and unlocking the data.”

Focus on the Audience

Speros noted, “How do we make sure we ensure we are focusing on insights, actual insights? To use or not to use? Do we lead with our audience?”

Harvin noted, “When it comes to putting the customer first, to grow and evolve, the customer is at the forefront. Experimentation can lead to different opportunities, testing and understanding.”

Healy added, “The consumer focus, it must be translated to what the executives care about. What motivates people, yet what drives share? To translate that insight to the middle man. It’s huge to unlock and drive insights, and making sure it matters to executive leadership.”

Tyson Foods’ Klindt: “You have to connect the dots. It’s not just one piece of research. There are marketplace dynamics. You have to be a great insights partner. And swing like Spiderman. You have to be both at the same time.”

Gould added, “It’s beyond the analysis. It’s high performing analysis and scoping the questions. How are we getting the insights? You have to be a strong business professional, bringing it all together. Not just actioned, but how to make an impact.”

At the end of the day, “We are growth drivers,” Healy said. “The tools that we use, have to have a little bit of everything.”

Final Thoughts

Speros: “You have to be nimble. Business acumen is so critical and methodologically proficient. Now, it’s challenging to adopt a point of view. Defend or be knocked down. You can put analysis out there but you have to have a provocative point of view to activate. Insights is now accountable. To provide insights and to take into some accountability if it was or wasn’t actioned.”

“Push yourself to be bolder,” said Healy. “Focus on a story rather than data.”

Gould noted, “What is the outcome? Action or ‘the ask,’ then work backwards.”

Klindt added, “Connect the dots, combine with market dynamics and the consumer story.”


  • Matt Kramer

    Matthew Kramer is the Digital Editor for All Things Insights & All Things Innovation. He has over 20 years of experience working in publishing and media companies, on a variety of business-to-business publications, websites and trade shows.

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