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Navigating to Insights ROI

The panel was moderated by Christopher Wilshire, founding partner/CEO, Egg Strategy. Along with Cusner, the panel included Bridget Nelson, Head of Brand Performance, MassMutual, and Kate Norman, Lead Director, Customer Insights (Health Care Benefits unit), Aetna, a CVS Health Company.

The panel is titled “Insights ROI?!” which is telling in how the industry often feels about or is challenged by this topic. Just what does it take to get to Insights ROI? The first order of business is that one must believe that ROI exists in the first place, and that it’s possible to achieve those goals.

“I think it’s a very common theme,” says Cusner. “Often, it’s our leadership teams who aren’t themselves necessarily insights professionals trying to put a dollar on the investments they make in insights. Yet it’s not always the easiest or best way to measure the investment that we’re making in insights. That’s where the question starts. The astute insights professionals ask those questions themselves, which is often to preempt some of the questions they get externally. Try to find ways to really wrap your arms around the holistic nature of what you do and think about different ways that you can deliver value in the organization. It’s not just a dollar amount necessarily, but it’s influence, impact, follow through in the market.”

Certainly, it remains a challenging question to be asked by leadership. If we don’t look at revenue, or expense for that matter, just what kind of metrics can accomplish this task of insights ROI?

Cusner notes, “What I hope that my cross functional partners will show, is that the entire plan they’re putting together, the foundation of that is the insight work that we’ve collaborated on. You need to have advocates within the organization who believe in what you’re doing—who want to work with you and are proactive. That’s the way to preempt this conversation. If the first slides of a business case are rooted in the insight that we’ve delivered and we’ve collaborated on, no one asks. It sets up a firm and strong story about what we’re doing and why. But when you don’t have that buy-in, if you don’t have the advocacy internally, and the insights get kind of pushed aside, that’s when the questions arise. The goal as an insights person is to partner with our cross functional teams to ensure that this question never comes up.”

So you are putting yourself in a situation where you are proving the why to the stakeholders that matter. Doing that allows you to move away from a metrics-based conversation.

“Absolutely,” he agrees. “And I’ve been in organizations where we get pushed on—and so we have those conversations about dollars. But it’s about making sure that you have that buy-in from the beginning and so that people aren’t asking me for that data.”

Cusner also covered knowledge management at TMRE, in the case study, “Insights Amplified: Unleashing Potential Through Collaborative Innovation,” featuring himself and Dan Stradtman, Bloomfire’s CMO. The session examined the crossroads of knowledge management, technology, and insights, revealing how these forces converge to amplify insights leaders’ influence within their organizations.

He observes, “A lot of organizations are now realizing, especially with all the different types of data they’re collecting, that we need to have a better way to organize and collate that data as well as extend the life of that data. You’ve got global functions that are doing the same work in different regions. So having one central hub where all the insight work lives, whether it’s insight reports or even concepts, you’ve got global teams testing the same innovation. We realized as an industry that there was a big need here. It’s created a really easy way for us to house the data in a central place to ensure that we get extra value out of it, and share it with our partners. There’s a lot of cross collaboration that happens.”

See the full video for more on Seth Adler’s conversation with Jordan Cusner at TMRE, as they chat about perspectives on AI, augmented intelligence—and even the perfect Popeye’s chicken sandwich for 2024.


  • Seth Adler

    Seth Adler heads up All Things Insights & All Things Innovation. He has spent his career bringing people together around content. He has a dynamic background producing events, podcasts, video, and the written word.

  • 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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