How to build competitive advantage with a future fit insights team

What matters today will not matter tomorrow

In the past operational skills used to confer long-term advantage – if you had leaner manufacturing, made higher quality products or had superior distribution you could outrun competitors. But today those capabilities are table stakes.

The new source of competitive advantage today is consumer centricity – deeply understanding, anticipating and fulfilling your consumer’s needs better than anyone else. This places insight teams at the heart of potential future business success

The problem is, we all have access to the same data, and anybody (competitors and disruptors) can access and analyse consumer data and trends. To avoid irrelevance and be future fit, insight teams need to move beyond data and insights, translating it into powerful ideas and opportunities that drive business growth. This requires new skillsets and capabilities for insights people.

Future Fit Insights teams will be growth gurus leading the business growth agenda

  • Insight teams will become growth consultants that shape the future of the business by showing them where and how to win.
  • They will translate deep human and cultural insights combined with foresight and growth analytics into actionable growth opportunities that provide successful solutions in market.
  • Insight teams will rival McKinsey, BCG, Deloitte & Bain because they will provide sources of growth rather than purely seeking efficiencies.

We identified FIVE Future Fit Skills to make this future a reality

1. Commercial Acumen
2. Maths and Magic
3. Shaping the Future
4. Influencing and Narrative
5. Being Business Leaders

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A call to action for our Insight Teams:

  • More courage: Building Commercial acumen and influencing skills will help teams say no more to low value work and focus on what matters to create more value
  • Create space: Focusing on these future five skill sets will help teams free up space for value through identifying and outsourcing or automating lower value  or repetitive tasks
  • Empowered to lead:  Shaping the future builds skills that help steer the future growth agenda is only way to get ahead of the competition, including insights leading strategy and decision-making
  • Build powerful influence: Influencing and strong narrative skills will focus teams on how to land insights, ideas & opportunities in a way that cuts through and makes people engage.
  • Place consumers at the heart of the business: Business leadership is as much about leading a team as leading the business to place the consumer at the heart of all decision making to drive success

A call to action for the Client Side Insights Industry:

Let’s join forces & collaborate

  • Insight professionals across client and agency side need to work together to build these skills and reinvent the value creation from insights work
  • We must ensure we leave behind legacy mindsets and focus on the why and the so what (and let go of insights in a vacuum, 100 page debriefs, death by powerpoint and kitchen sink research!)

Lets consistently measure value creation & ROI

  • To step up and lead the future of business transformation we must all put in place ways to continuously track, evaluate and report on commercial ROI of our efforts
  • This will be critical to focus on value creation and learn how to improve & accelerate over time

Let’s create a new Insights mindset

To be the source of competitive advantage and business growth, we need to support Insights people to change how they work, specifically:

  • They must build commercial acumen to know where to focus to add most value.
  • They need to be assertive and learn to say no to the old (market research and project management ‘service mindset’) to free up time to connect the dots and find growth opportunities to shape the future.
  • They must build strong influencing capabilities to inspire business transformation & decision-making.

A new mindset is hard and sometimes uncomfortable, but it is the mindset shift that help us to create competitive advantage, now and in the future.