A New Organizational Model for Highly Effective Insights Organizations: Part 1 1

By Dr. Alexander Linder

This week, courtesy of Dr Alexander Linder, we explore how insights departments could be better organized to meet the changing needs of diverse client-side stakeholder groups. Alexander suggests a new organizational model aiming to maximize the effectiveness and ultimately the ROI of insight departments, overcoming legacy silo-driven limitations. He argues for the need to change focus from a traditionally “vertical”, functionally driven model to a horizontal, process-oriented one, that adopts not just a consumer-centric but also a stakeholder-centric perspective.

We start today by looking at the drivers behind the new insights organizational model, tomorrow we will look at the new ways of working within this model, on Thursday we will look at the new organization setup, and finally on Friday the key learnings and practical suggestions.

The Drivers Behind the New Insights Organization Model

The findings we will discuss are based on an international, qualitative benchmarking study from mBrain covering EMEA, the Americas and Asia Pacific focusing on 4 companies from fashion and luxury goods. mBrain is a global information services company and offers amongst others business and market intelligence solutions, strategic analysis and consultation services. The findings are also based on expert interviews amongst leading insights companies from FMCG, retail and consumer electronics. Three key insights emerged:

  1. Many insights departments are still anchored in marketing organizations and managed by the CMO
  2. Most insights departments are divided into geographic regions, like EMEA, Americas and Pacific
  3. The typical areas covered are: customers, brand, market, social media, competition and promotion effectiveness. The minority also covers the area of supply chain insights

These aspects still make sense from a content perspective (WHAT is done and WHERE is it done), but do they also make sense when looking at the stakeholders (for WHOM is it done and WHAT do they expect)?

If one key goal of the consummate insights professional is to support and guide brands to move more into the direction of consumer-centricity, we have to ask ourselves at the same time how well are we performing in terms of stakeholder centricity – our ultimate clients are the stakeholders.

A closer look at our stakeholders, and what they expect from us, is necessary, given the multiple organizational changes sweeping through many industries. Stakeholder expectations towards insights professionals are changing, faster than many think. Over the past 3-5 years, a huge number of new expectations have arisen, posing new challenges to the insight teams. These can be clustered into two areas which we will look at tomorrow:

  1. One part concerns the way in which insights departments work and interact on a daily basis
  2. The second part concerns social/soft skills

About the Author

Dr. Alexander Linder was the VP Corporate Brand, Consumer and Market Intelligence (CBCMI) at Swarovski, an area he built-up more than 13 years ago and further developed it over time. He was responsible for the global portfolio of insights management, insights training and knowledge sharing & activation. He is a speaker at many international conferences and publishes articles in different national and international journals. Alexander holds a PhD from the University of Zurich and a degree of business administration from the University of St.Gallen. Alexander calls himself an “Intelligence Professional aus Leidenschaft” and is currently looking for his next career step.

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