When I started working with market research departments in 2003 our departments were the primary source for valid, reliable customer information within our organizations. Our goal was to fulfill a consultative role within the organization, helping decision makers take action on our recommendations.
As we built our library of customer understanding, the old “market research” department went through a few rebrands, from “market insights” or “customer understanding,” (circa 2012) to, in the last 2 to 4 years, adding analytics to the function.
Fast forward to today, and the changes keep coming. Information proliferation means data bombards decision makers from all sides. The scarce asset now isn’t information, it’s time to digest what they hear. Market insights and analytics departments feel the need to ally with data owners across many functions (strategy, IT, customer experience), hoping to provide the most holistic view of customers and consumers.
In the last 12 months I’ve seen a new focus from insights and analytics leaders, reassessing the organization of their departments to determine the best structure for their group heading into the next decade. While there is no “right” answer when it comes to the level of centralization or number of management roles within the MI and analytics department, the most successful reorganizations that I’ve seen in the past year do have one thing in common: they are proactively capitalizing on changes within their broader company.
For example, the head of Prudential’s decision insights group recognized a growing emphasis on stronger cross-business collaboration. Prudential’s BU-focused insights structure created silos and kept staff from collaborating or sharing knowledge across the function. And since the structure had staff dedicated to specific business units, the team was unable to adjust to meet fluctuating demand.
Insights leaders knew that to keep up with the collaborative focus of the organization they had to change their business unit alignment. After developing a clear understanding of the strategic imperatives of the DIG team, the head of the function used this knowledge to define the three core capabilities around which to center the function’s redesign:
- Business Consulting
- Audience Expertise
- Operational Excellence
In another example, the market insight leader at the J.M. Smucker Company capitalized on a renewed corporate focus on innovation by creating an entirely new insights group committed solely to front-end innovation. Learn more about MI structure at Prudential and the J.M. Smucker Company (subscription required).
When selecting the right structure for your own group, the strategic focus of your organization will help determine whether to organize around product lines, geographies, jobs to be done, or outcomes. Use the changes going on around you as the catalyst to redefine how market insights and analytics provides value to your organization.