4 Steps to Building an Insights Engine

Heather Wendlandt

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    When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was the Little Engine That Could. I remember thinking about how tough that little engine was, how determined she was, and how she overcame such a hard challenge. If we pretend that little engine was a business, back then, pure grit and determination would have been able to get that little engine over the hill; but today, that simple formula wouldn’t be enough for businesses trying to move past huge daunting challenges. Businesses have to build a solid foundation seeped in intelligence and based on knowledge and information that is constantly changing minute to minute.

    In today’s modern insights realm, researchers are facing fierce pressure to do more than just deliver data and provide insights. Insight teams now have to manage knowledge, empower stakeholders, and activate insight all alongside shrinking budgets, time, and constantly shifting consumer behaviors and needs.

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    Insight teams are facing fierce pressure to do more than just deliver data - we must now manage knowledge and empower stakeholders, and a supercharged insights engine can help teams deliver.

    Steps to a Supercharged Insights Engine

    With these goals and challenges in mind, how can insight teams build an engine that can keep up with these modern-day pressures? What can they do to ensure they are not only meeting these demands, but also are building their team up to be a powerful force driving their business’s decisions? Building a supercharged engine can aid insight teams not only climb hills, but to scale them with all the strength and efficiency needed to be effortless, all at the speed of light.

    There are four main steps to building the supercharged insights space engine:

    1. Efficient Recruitment
    2. Streamlining Data Collection
    3. Automating Data Analysis
    4. Insight Activation and Empowerment

    These four components all play a key role in making your insights engine a powerful part of your business.

    1. Efficiency Recruitment

    Let’s start with recruitment. Like a car engine, recruitment is essentially the oil and input into your insights engine. It’s important that we look at recruitment from all angles. In other words, which participants you will be recruiting for your studies and are they of high quality? Where did they come from? How labor intensive and expensive is it to find these recruits?

    Evaluating the recruitment process and the method of recruitment as well as the vendors insight teams rely on for these services is a good place to start when looking to inject efficiency into the process. What methods do insight teams use to find sampling partners and respondents? What controls do they have in place to ensure the respondents they are recruiting are legitimate and fit the requirements? It’s a good idea to check survey screeners as well to make sure they’re working to filter only the best recruits through to the next stage of research.

    Make sure to streamlining your recruitment process too. Perhaps insight teams should recruit an ongoing custom panel or community in order to tap into customer opinions at any point in time, and avoid having to pay ad-hoc panel prices each time they reach out. Like any well-running engine, what you feed it will ultimately determine how it performs.

    2. Data Collection

    The next step in building a super insights engine is streamlining your data collection. To start, businesses should evaluate their needs in terms of methodologies and how involved they wish to be in the process. Alex, an Insight Manager for a luxury car company explains that when it’s possible, it’s best to “simplify the business questions, simplify the study designs, simplify the presentations, simplify the tools.”

    Assess the different platforms and methodologies out there that fit your business objectives and interview partners. Have you considered moving from slower and more expensive ad-hoc projects to an ongoing panel or community? The long-term cost benefit of this approach works towards the goal of creating more value for your insights team. When a CEO can reach out to the Insights team and ask a quick question and get a response the next day, the impact on your business and brand is immediate.

    Also, qualitative research used to be so time consuming, but with video, bringing qual at scale in a cheaper way is now a reality. I’m talking about video focus groups, IDIs, and embedding video into surveys. You can literally blur the line between qualitative and quantitative research these days with software like FlexMR’s InsightHub. Also, think about how to use video to replace the slower and more expensive methodologies, like IHUTs. Nowadays, IHUTs can be done virtually with online diary or journal tools because of video integration. With end-to-end insight platforms, research teams can use one tool to run unlimited qual and quant projects all within the same log in.

    3. Data Analysis

    The third step in creating a well-oiled insights engine is fine-tuning the analysis and service models.

    From a managed services perspective, how can you simplify this process? Are you taking on tasks that should be offloaded for cost and efficiency’s sake? Charles, a Senior Insight Manager in a candy company, advocates automation for streamlining analysis processes, stating that “questionnaire programming, sample management, and survey administration are relatively low value tasks that can be outsourced. Just because you can do something in house doesn’t mean you should.”

    When interviewing partnerships, how flexible and agile is their service model? Are you pigeonholed into a huge research budget black box of services? Or can you slice and dice and work within the confines of paying for what you actually need? What kinds of management services are needed to support your research on an ad-hoc or ongoing basis? By moving to an agile service model supported by technology, your analysis will be easier and faster. For example, FlexMR’s NumbersMR tool allows stakeholders to create tables, banners, frequencies and share in real time with their stakeholders.

    Where NumbersMR is our quantitative back end, VideoMR is our qualitative back end. All video collected through video focus groups, IDIs, diaries, question boards, and surveys is organized in one place that you can access the same way as the data collection and design. Clients can create and share video montage clips and inspire stakeholders with consumer content that comes to life. Being able to evangelize consumer’s direct words and environments through video has been a game changer for our clients, sparking new conversations internally supported by hearing their actual voice of customers.

    With respect to analysis, think about how you are managing and executing that process. Are you taking advantage of visual based reports? Artwork, video reports, or even infographics? By pairing software and agile research services in a way that fits your teams’ needs, you are able to drive down costs and increase efficiency among your team – all working towards that well-oiled insights engine.

    4. Insights Activation and Empowerment

    The final step to achieving insights engine bliss is all about empowerment and activation. How are you relaying your insights internally? Are you sharing reports in a manner that actually speaks to the style and need of your stakeholders? Does your stakeholder want a fifty-page PowerPoint report with charts and graphs, or perhaps a more engaging video montage or infographic report will be more impactful? Focus on fine-tuning your reporting options. Sit down with your stakeholders and get to know them to find out exactly what the best way is to communicate the data in a way that is meaningful and actually makes an impact.

    Consider using all of the tools at your arsenal and partners who can help you with this shift. At FlexMR we have built a Close Connection program where we bring the stakeholder in direct video to video (face-to-face) contact with their customers. This has been incredibly impactful for our clients, because it has helped position our clients as trusted authorities - demonstrating the power of customer feedback and helping to build insight teams into go-to advisors within their companies. Not to mention the program amplifies the voice of the customer and helps develop empathy and understanding.

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    A supercharged insights engine exposes insight teams to a whole new set of superpowers to conduct efficient, high-quality research experience.

    All of this just drives at helping our clients build better relationships with their stakeholders by speaking to them in a way that is the most impactful. Additionally, by creating a structured environment of activation, clients are making their insights engine way more agile and effective. The effect has been that their insights department has become a solid player at the proverbial c-suite table.

    In summary, there are tools, services, and companies out there with the intention of helping expose insights teams to a whole new set of superpowers to help construct an agile and supercharged insights engine to catapult their business into the future. By focusing on efficient recruitment, streamlining data collection processes, automating insight analysis, and modernizing your activation and empowerment practices, you will no doubt build that supercharged insights engine. Like the “Little Engine that Could”, you will go sailing down the proverbial insights hill with ease and speed, overcoming any roadblocks and challenges on your way.

    FlexMR InsightHub

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