Insight helps organisations make better decisions, so why is it that some companies centralise their insights team?
Centralising a service is often done to provide cost savings and reduce duplicated efforts but, while this might make sense for HR or accounts, it’s not necessarily the best option for insights.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the downsides of centralising insights and consider if giving company-wide access to consumer data on-demand could lead to increased ROI.
What’s the problem with centralised insights?
1. Centralised insights are slow
Insights teams do a fantastic job, but they’re working with limited people resources and that means they can quickly become bogged down with admin and project management. If lots of people across a company put in a request for research, it has to join a queue. At very busy times, they could be waiting weeks for answers.
If a business is waiting on intel, it’s waiting to make decisions, and this could have an impact on the bottom line. Companies might even completely miss out on opportunities when speed is the inflection point that defines so many successful businesses these days.
2. Centralised insights lack context
Insights folk are experts in research and data science, but they don’t necessarily have expertise in the varied job roles and specialisms across the company. Sure, they can take a brief and seek to outline the goals of an internal stakeholder but they’ll never have the same depth of understanding when it comes to why the data is so vital for decision-making.
It’s inevitable that there will always be somewhat of a disconnect between the insights team and the department commissioning the work. Nuances will be missed and, as a result, the insights obtained might not reach their maximum potential.
3. Centralised insights limit creativity
When insights are centralised, they’re not easy to access. An employee might want a quick bit of insight to validate an idea but they don’t want to put pressure on already over-stretched colleagues in the insights team. Because of this, they might only pursue a research request for a specialised project that’s been planned and signed off.
The downside to this approach is that it limits opportunities for uncovering new creative avenues. Access to consumer insights on-demand serves creativity in two ways. Firstly, it gives you the ability to act on gut instinct; when inspiration strikes, you can immediately test your ideas. On the other hand, if you’re short on ideas or lacking direction, insight into your target audiences can light the touchpaper that sparks your creativity.
4. Centralised insights limit productivity
Waiting on insights can stall momentum. This is especially true when your people need to make critical decisions. We’ve all experienced blockers in our work where we’re unsure what action to take. Going solely off your gut in these instances can lead to total failure.
There are other factors that can hamper progress, like when two or more decision-makers can’t agree on a course of action. Reaching a stalemate can reduce productivity, not to mention cause tension within the organisation. Being able to easily get external feedback can quickly put disagreements to bed and keep performance high.
5. Centralised insights can lead to bias
We’re not saying insights teams have favourites… but there will always be internal politics which dictate which departments take priority. It means that some departments, which don’t have as urgent a need for insights, might get overlooked. This unfair allocation of resources puts certain business functions at a distinct disadvantage.
Another way bias can come into play is when people in a department make decisions based on their own assumptions, without seeking outside input. Decentralised insights can rid organisations of these potentially damaging echo chambers.
6. Centralised insights discourage experimentation
Companies that embrace open innovation and empower their employees with access to data and insight are some of the world’s most successful – just look at the likes of Facebook, Google, HP, Samsung and Starbucks.
Giving your people agency to test hypotheses can result in amazing innovation. But experimentation is hampered if they have to go through a bureaucratic or long-winded process to obtain the insight they need. The ability to fail fast can save a company money, meanwhile, it allows winning-concepts to be progressed at pace.
The ROI of being insight-led as an organisation
Putting consumer insights at the fingertips of employees across the company removes friction. As a result, it can help fast-track growth. When people don’t have to wait around and can get almost instant answers to their questions, productivity is maximised.
But it doesn’t have to be an either-or situation when it comes to centralising or decentralising insights – you can have both. There is much to be said for the expertise of an experienced insights team, it’s just that more can be achieved when the resource is democratised.
And while it might feel a bit scary giving too many teams access to consumer data, the 80-20 rule states that giving away control results in more impact with less effort. When everyone has the ability to obtain consumer data for themselves, the insights team is freed up to focus on larger, more strategic projects.
As an intuitive research tool that anyone can use, regardless of their role, tools like Attest are making that a reality. Attest’s platform distils the previously complicated process of doing consumer research into three simple steps; access audiences, set up questions, and uncover insights – all in a matter of minutes.
But at the same time as being accessible to all, Attest can be overseen by insights teams, who have the ability to create in-platform methodologies, templates, and frameworks that lead to robust surveys. This provides organisations with the best of both worlds – the freedom of democratised insights with the guidance of experienced researchers.