Breaking Down 5 Barriers to Insights Activation

Emily James

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    Insight teams are constantly breaking down a variety of barriers within the daily life of market research. Barriers to getting funding, finding out contextual information about the research request, gathering the right data from the right people, and even fighting on with outdated or redundant tools and methodologies to get the insights stakeholders need.

    But one stage of the market research process that holds the most challenges for insights teams is the insights activation stage. This is where insight teams have the least control over what happens with the insights they’ve worked so hard to generate, so how can they overcome the barriers faced? Which barriers are the ones that stop stakeholders from acting on insights the most?

    1. Access

    Having continuous access to research and insights is something that can often be taken for granted by stakeholders, so when the foundation for unlimited access isn’t there and the insights remain trapped in the boardroom, the flow of informed decisions is depleted.

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    Some barriers are more easily overcome, and some barriers we have made no headway with at all. These five barriers are a consistent obstacle to impactful insights activation, so how do we overcome them?

    One barrier to access is knowledge and experience; stakeholders without the basic knowledge of market research and insights don’t quite know where to start when it comes to firing up the market research process. Building up stakeholder knowledge of basic research techniques, the tricks to correctly interpreting and translating insights into strategic decision making can help stakeholders realise the potential of insights in this activation stage and increase their access to insights.

    Another prominent barrier to accessing research and insights is technology and communication. Communication we will touch on next, but having the right technology in place to conduct basic research and look into a repository of insights is key for the success of insights generation and activation.

    2. Communication

    A lack of communication always results in a breakdown of important processes, and in this case, a breakdown in the communication and activation of insights. Developing strong communication opportunities between stakeholders and insights teams will help streamline insight activation efforts.

    In a recent blog, we discussed how important communication was to winning over leadership teams, and how to make sure to communicate correctly with stakeholders. One of these tactics was to design tailored experiences based off your stakeholders preferred channels and frequency of communication. This will help engage stakeholders more thoroughly with insight teams efforts to communicate interesting and relevant insights, and thus help boost insight activation on a more consistent basis.

    Keeping open communication channels and opportunities means that communication can be a two-way street, rather than insight teams broaching conversations with stakeholders exclusively. Allowing stakeholders to get in touch with insight teams first puts more emphasis on active research participation, as well as allows them to request more research and ask questions of the insight team regarding recent insights.

    3. Understanding

    The underlying barrier that stops all progress on breaking down the other barriers in this insight activation stage, is a lack of understanding of the value and impact of research and insights on stakeholder organisations.

    Understanding the market research process, the effort and expertise that goes into generating valuable insights, the power of those insights when used correctly and how best to act on those insights provided are all key to realising the full potential of insights. Stakeholders that understand these concepts are more likely to value insights, engage with research teams, and act on the insights generated at the end of the research experience.

    Education and experience are great ways to embed this understanding into stakeholders across organisations. Insight teams that educate their stakeholders through workshops, immersive research experiences, etc. are more likely to have quality conversations with stakeholders that reveal important contextual information, create better insights, and have those insights acted on at the end.

    4. Engagement

    Stakeholder engagement has been a popular topic of conversation in the insights industry for the past few years, mostly in regards to creating better research experiences from the very beginning. With stakeholders engaged in the research process, they bring the important strategic context that will help mould the research project and resulting insights to become more relevant and directly actionable.

    However, engagement in insights and research also aids the insights activation stage. As data and insights are generated throughout the research experience, engaged stakeholders will more likely act on the insights as soon as they’re communicated, leading to faster informed decision-making processes and strategic transformation within organisations.

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    Confidence is probably the most difficult barrier to overcome on the stakeholder side. To confidently wield insights to power positive transformation, insight teams need to overcome the other 4 barriers first.

    In our last roundtable, senior insight professionals from a variety of industries shared their experiences and tactics for increasing stakeholder engagement. Some insight teams approach stakeholders and hook their interest through the personal or financial gains they are bound to get with increased engagement; while others approach it through increasing stakeholder understanding and altering communication tactics to better suit with their stakeholders' needs.

    5. Confidence

    Finally, confidence is a key barrier to insights activation. If stakeholders have no confidence in themselves and their ability to act properly on the insights given then they are less likely to use the insights to their full potential, if at all.

    Confidence is the last piece of the puzzle, and comes, as with understanding, through education and experience. So, what can we do to break down this barrier? Be there to guide them through applying insights directly the first few times. Then draw back and be there at the end of the line in case they need a bit of guidance the first few times they do it on their own.

    The more times they make that decision and feel that they have the support of the insight team on their side, they will become more and more confident. Of course, mistakes will happen, but the insight team can be there to guide them through that again and help them recover with another examination of the insights delivered.

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