Blog post

Business partners overloaded with data? Reshape Insights & Analytics for Sensemaking!

By Sean Holbert | September 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

MarketingMarketing Data and Analytics

VoC programs, AI, data lakes, data scientists, new insights and analytics talent…these are just some of the areas that business and marketing leaders are continuing to invest in. Businesses are doing this because they recognize the tremendous power of data. According to our latest benchmarking survey, more than half of CMOs are still planning to increase their spending on Marketing & Customer Analytics over the next year. Additionally, Martech now represents nearly one-third of the total Marketing budgets according to our recent CMO Spend Survey Research.


Of course, Insights and Analytics leaders have always known about the power of data, but now the secret’s out. Data is not just for researchers and analysts to dig around in anymore – it’s for everyone! Businesses are reshaping how they operate and how they make decisions, all with a greater emphasis on being data-driven.


Decision makers have more and more data available to them for every decision they make and, quite often, they’re going at it alone. Our research found that decision makers are only using input from their Insights & Analytics functions for about half of the customer-facing decisions they make. As the business reshapes around data, how can Insights & Analytics impact more of those customer-facing decisions?


In our analysis, we identified the five specific factors that play a role in decision-making and they fall into three main buckets: Decision Inputs, Decision Makers, and Decision Support. We ran further analysis to learn how much each of those factors can improve our business partners’ decision-making process.


We learned three important lessons:


  • Decision Inputs: Controlling data access does not improve the decision-making process at all. There is already a lot of good data out there, and given the continued investment in data, there is going to be even more as we move forward. How and when decision makers get access to data has no significant impact on the quality of their decision-making process.


  • Decision Makers: The decision maker matters… a lot! There are two factors here:
    1. We found that 43% of a high-quality decision process is driven by the Decision Maker’s ability to analyze and interpret the data themselves
    2. Another 27% is driven by their understanding of the available sources of data across the business.

That personal understanding of data and ability to interpret it gives the decision maker the power of agency, or ownership, which increases their confidence in their decision process, which our research shows ultimately leads to better outcomes.


  • Decision Support: The analysis that Insights and Analytics functions provide doesn’t improve decision making… but researchers and analysts themselves still can!
    1. Insights & Analytics functions continue to improve the quality of their deliverables. However, decision makers today are operating in a world of information saturation, in which any additional analysis from us, no matter how high quality, actually decreases the quality of their decision-making process
    2. On the other hand, researcher and analyst interactions with decision makers DO have an impact on the decision-making process


Here’s the good news: 30% of a high-quality decision process is driven by quality interaction with an analyst. In this information saturated world, we should be interacting with our business partners to help them make sense of all the data they have at their fingertips, and to enable them to feel agency over their decisions by showing them how to analyze and interpret it themselves. The key to improving business partner decision making quality is for Insights & Analytics functions to reshape around Sensemaking.


We found three forms of Sensemaking that are highly effective at improving the quality of decision-making:

  1. Navigate: Help your business partners navigate and understand the data that’s available to them
  2. Equip: Equip your business partners to interpret and analyze that data effectively
  3. Validate: Validate your business partners’ judgment at key moments throughout the decision process


As the business continues to reshape around data, Insights & Analytics functions should start to reshape around Sensemaking. Our business partners don’t need more data – no matter high quality it is. They need help making sense of all the good data they already have. By reallocating our priorities and efforts around Sensemaking activities, we can help our business partners feel the power of agency over their decisions and as a result, drive better outcomes.


Our current data-driven world brings a huge opportunity for the Insights & Analytics function to play a critical role in decisions through Sensemaking!

Leave a Comment