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Turning text analysis into business outcomes – The journey of an insight

In a world of information overload and competing priorities, the destiny of many insights is to exist as knowledge and nothing more. It’s an unfortunate reality, but the good news is it is far from an insurmountable challenge.

The best remedy to ensure all your hard work doesn’t go to waste? Take ownership of your insights.

Relative Insight helps brands and agencies to extract insights from text data using text analytics – but insights are not an end in themselves. Rather, they are one component in a longer process that results in the creation of incremental business value. Along this journey, insights are a means of driving towards outcomes – playing an important role in problem identification and/or solution development.

Understanding the journey of an insight on its path to value creation helps to ensure insights are creating positive returns.

Know your endgame

Before beginning any research, it is important to have a clear sense of the underlying purpose of the work. This also includes understanding the types of outcomes you are working towards. While insights undoubtedly influence recommendations, identifying the kinds of actions stakeholders are open to will guide your work.

Asking yourself the below questions will help set the parameters for your research.  

  1. Why is the research being undertaken?
  2. What business priorities does it relate to?
  3. Who is this research supposed to benefit?
  4. What are stakeholders open to in terms of actions and resource (budget) allocation?

By answering these questions, you will map out the journey of an insight and identify the key stakeholders that will need to be brought on board.

Focused and actionable research

Keeping your research focused on the end goal is imperative. As you build insight cards, take care to distinguish between ‘nice to know’ information and business-critical insights.

Staying focused and living by the mantra ‘quality over quantity’ will support concise, pointed recommendations. A small number of high-quality insights are going to be easier for stakeholders to comprehend than a laundry list of everything remotely relevant. This highlights the importance of understanding who the audience for your insights is and what their objectives are.

Take ownership of your insights

It may be tempting to wash your hands of responsibility for your insights once you have shared them with your key stakeholders, but this would amount to the research equivalent of abandoning a marathon halfway through.

As the journey of an insight progresses, there are two common hurdles that will need to be overcome:

1.    Getting your insights in front of the right people

Whether you’re dealing with internal or external stakeholders, a crucial aspect of an insight’s journey involves getting your research in front of the relevant people. Getting their buy-in early on will pay dividends and help to nurture the insight further along. Achieving buy-in requires a high degree of confidence that the insights are representative of the actual environment in which the business is operating. Particularly with qualitative text analysis, being able to articulate the process through which insights were developed is foundational to building this confidence.

If proposing changes in brand messaging, this might involve the CMO, VP of Sales, an external advertising agency and content writers.

2.    Getting resources allocated

Acting on insight-based recommendations usually requires a commitment of either money or people. To ensure your work is getting the required resources, decision-makers must be convinced of the importance of taking action and confident in the insights on which such action plans are based.

Budget-holders are constantly making trade-offs that represent where they think they will get the biggest return on investment. This is where understanding how your work fits into the broader priorities of the business will prove useful. When presenting your work, make these connections explicit and where possible offer a forecast of the potential impact of your recommendations.

Measure performance

Demonstrating a consistent track record for translating insights into outcomes will help you build a good reputation. For insights that have made it to the end of their journey, articulating the value you have created back to stakeholders will support this reputation building. This closes the loop – showcasing how your work helped the business. In doing so, you also improve the chances of future insights following a similar path to success.

Where outcomes have proven elusive, be sure to assess what went wrong so that you can improve next time.

Understanding the big picture

Especially in larger organizations, it is not uncommon to be so functionally focused that the bigger picture sometimes gets lost. Having a sense of how your research fits into the bigger picture is foundational to consistently driving outcomes. By investing time to understand the journey your insights must take to create value, you will be better able to anticipate hurdles and ultimately position your work (and yourself!) for success.  

For agencies, this can be even more challenging given the limited amount of visibility into the inner workings of clients. To mitigate the impacts of this challenge, engage in this process of mapping the journey of an insight collaboratively with your key stakeholders. This will help establish clear expectations and actions that must be taken. In doing so, you will increase the likelihood of the client realizing value and contribute to a healthy long-term partnership.

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