If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound? And if an insights team throws their research into a shared drive or email thread, does anybody see it?
No one wants to dedicate time (and budget) to a research project that has a limited impact, which is why it’s so important to have an insights management strategy: an approach to capturing, sharing, and driving engagement with your organization’s market research and insights. But it’s all too easy to establish an insights management approach and then set it on autopilot, without thinking about how it may need to change to meet the evolving needs of your business.
Let’s take a look at four common scenarios when you may need to reevaluate your existing insights management strategy.
Your team is restructuring
There are a number of reasons your current team might restructure: your company could be changing where different research teams sit within the organization, you could be going through a merger and acquisition (M&A), or you could simply have current team members moving into new roles.
Whatever the case, any kind of change to your team structure could lead to valuable knowledge and insights getting lost in the shuffle–especially if you don’t have a good process in place to transfer the knowledge and expertise of one to many. Additionally, if you’re going through an M&A, you may find that you now have multiple research libraries or insights management tools–and team members who are confused about which source to use.
When your team or organizational structure changes, it’s worth reviewing your current insights management strategy and considering what needs to change. Some questions to ask:
- Are research and insights being stored across multiple libraries or repositories? If so, it’s time to consolidate so that everyone has access to a single source of truth.
- Are you relying heavily on the tacit knowledge or expertise of certain team members? If so, you should develop a knowledge management process for them to document and share their knowledge with the broader team.
- Are you adding new research teams, or moving teams to different departments with new sets of stakeholders? If so, you should focus on educating your stakeholders on the work your research team is doing and how it benefits their area of organization.
Team members are departing
An estimated 10,000 people reach retirement age every day. And roughly 47 million U.S. workers quit their jobs in 2021 (at the height of the Great Resignation). Even if the quit rate slows during an economic downturn, your research team should have a plan in place to preserve the knowledge of its team members before they depart.
Consider the long-tenured team member who has taken on the role of corporate librarian (even if it’s not in their title). When a stakeholder comes to them with a question, they may be able to easily recall and share a past study that answers that question. But what happens if that team member leaves the company?
Your insights management strategy should have a knowledge retention component so that when team members leave, their valuable knowledge and intellectual capital doesn’t leave with them. This might start with making sure all team members understand the process and guidelines for publishing research reports, presentations, and other assets to a central insights management platform (the last thing you want is to have research living on one person’s hard drive or lost in an email thread).
You should also educate team members and stakeholders on how to search for information in this platform so they are empowered to find answers themselves rather than relying on one person who may not be available to help them.
You’re ramping up hiring
Let’s look at the flip side of departures: maybe your company is growing and you’re adding significantly to your headcount. In this case, you may have new hires–either on your team or a team you support–who could benefit from access to existing research but have no idea where to start. This is a great time to revisit your insights management strategy and consider how it could better support your new hires.
Education will be essential here as well: your new hires should receive training on how to search for and leverage existing research as part of the onboarding process. If your organizational culture is to support new hires who need access to your research but aren’t researchers themselves, you could also publish educational Insights 101 content in your insights management platform.
For example, Annie Corbett, former Senior Manager of User Research at DraftKings, shared in an interview with my company, Bloomfire, that her team created and published resources on the tools they were using, the types of research they were conducting, and the overall value of research to the organization.
Stakeholders are struggling to access and use research
There may not be a specific time-bound event, such as a team restructuring or hiring ramp-up, that causes you to reconsider your insights management strategy. In some cases, you may notice points of friction that are limiting the reach or visibility of your insights. One of the big ones: your stakeholders may be confused about where to find, or cannot easily access, answers to their research questions.
This problem may occur because research is housed in multiple locations or vendor portals–some of which your stakeholders might not even have direct access to. When this happens, stakeholders may reach out directly to insights team members–increasing the demands on your team’s time. Or worse: your stakeholders may give up on looking for answers to their research questions and make decisions based on gut feelings rather than data.
The best way to tackle this challenge is to make it as easy as possible for your stakeholders to access and use your research and insights. Give them login credentials for your insights management platform, and if possible, integrate your secondary research sources with this platform so your stakeholders don’t have to navigate multiple vendor portals.
If you’re setting up your stakeholders with on-demand access to insights, you can also help them get more value out of those insights by sharing additional context alongside reports and presentations. For example, in a webinar with Bloomfire, Lubrizol’s Dan Stradtman shared that his team would write different calls of actions tailored to different stakeholders so all decision-makers would have recommended next steps after reviewing research.
There’s never a bad time to review your insights management strategy
While there may be specific compelling events that lead you to reevaluate your insights management strategy, there’s no need to wait for one of these events. As an insights professional, it’s important to think about how you can continually optimize your approach to insights management and sharing to better meet your team and stakeholders’ needs. By improving access to–and understanding of–your research, you’re setting your organization up to make more data-driven decisions and continue growing.