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Increasing your Information ROI: Turning Knowledge into Gold

We all gather information about our customers. What do we do with it? We (hopefully) use it to inform our decisions and then it gets filed away. In some cases this is vertical (i.e. thrown away) but usually it is horizontal, to gather dust on a shelf somewhere that is soon forgotten. I think it’s time we changed this and turned our information investments into gold!

There are many, many ways to gather information about the customer: observation, listening, market research and external reports. I recently wrote about all the information on our customer that we should have at our disposition in a post called “12 Things you need to know about your target customers”. We need a lot of information to really know and underst and our customer and it clearly will not come from one single market research project or report. Therefore that knowledge must be built up over time and that is where the problem lies.

Often we forget we already have the information and go out and buy it again. This is particularly common when the marketing department changes its lead or members – which seems to be every year or two in many organisations these days! Everyone thinks they need more information, when they actually most likely need more insight. (I have written several posts on insight development, including “ Are you into insights or information?”) Therefore I thought it would be a good idea to share some ideas on resolving this situation, so that your hard-fought budget gets spent on gathering information that you don’t have available and really do need.

#1. Review what you’ve got

Data, information and knowledge are only useful if they are analysed and converted into underst anding and insight. In today’s data-rich environment, this is often where companies struggle the most. Next time you need information about your customer, start by reviewing the information and knowledge you already have, and also ask other departments who may need similar information, if they have it, before commissioning further research or report purchases.

#2. Share what you’ve got

One of the reasons companies spend money on gathering information that is already available internally, is because they don’t know it is! To help reduce this overspend, which unfortunately most suppliers will not inform you of, you need to make sure that everyone who might need the information is made aware of it and has access to it.

For one of my clients, we discovered that some external reports were being bought separately more than 20 times within the organisation! As if that wasn’t bad enough, several different departments were also buying access to the same databases, and others were doing almost identical pieces of market research at approximately the same time.

To avoid this:

  • make a review of information needs across the organisation, or across the region or globe if yours is an international business
  • make one person responsible for negotiating company-wide deals with suppliers; the savings made may even cover the cost of this position and is therefore well worth the investment
  • share plans for market research projects across businesses and look for opportunities to combine for further cost savings

#3. Store what you’ve got

Despite all the actions specified in #2. above, you may still find that there are times when unplanned information needs crop up. This is where a knowledge database or library becomes effective. It can be as simple as a folder on a shared drive or as complex as a bespoke platform, or anything in between. What is important is that is meets the needs of those looking for information and that all relevant people have easy access to it.

Whichever size of storage you decide on, I suggest first making an audit of information needs. This should cover both what is available, as well as what is needed and why. However be careful to distinguish between what people would like to have and what they actually need; I have found a wide difference between the two in many cases.

#4. Build your Library

Once you have identified the real needs of your organisation, it is time to build your Library. And don’t think once you have built it that people will immediately start to use it! They need to be encouraged to share their knowledge. In my experience, this can sometimes be met with concerns about the confidentiality of the information stored:

“I would love to see what everyone else has gathered, but of course my information is confidential and can’t be shared”

One possible solution to this is to provide right of use only to those who share their knowledge and information, ideally at similar levels to their access.  “Greedy outliers” who take more than they give should then be easy to identify.

Another issue that can crop up with open sharing is management’s worry about leaking information to the competition, especially when employees leave the company. Although this is often an exaggerated risk, in most cases this can be significantly reduced by controlling information download. If certain projects, especially new product development, are considered to be too high a risk to share, then these can have a confidential “as needs” basis rule, or a time limit set on them before being made public.

#5. Mine the gold

The real gold from information sharing comes quickly once it starts to be a reality. Even for smaller knowledge libraries, I have found that within six months the available information starts to replace planned research projects or report purchases.

Once the Library is up and running, the next step is to start sharing your insights too. As mentioned in “ Five ideas to improve your insight development” insights can often be used across more categories than the one for which it was developed. In the post I share a couple of examples of them:

  • INSIGHT: Parents want to protect their children so that they grow up happy and healthy used by:
    • Unilever's OmoUnilever’s Omo and its “Dirt is Good”; see one of their ads on YouTube here
    • Nestle Nido logoNestlé’s Nido; check out one of their ads here. Interestingly Nestlé has also used this same insight for its bottled water in Asia and pet food in the Americas.

 

  • INSIGHT: Young women want to be appreciated for who they really are i.e. not models used by
    • Unilever Dove logoUnilever’s Dove was the first br and to recognise and benefit from this insight with their infamous Real Beauty campaign; see one of their more recent ads here
    • Migros IamThe Swiss Supermarket chain Migros has a store toiletries br and “I am” which uses the same insight across all their health and beauty products, even using it for the br and name itself and advertising copy: “ I am – what I am“.

The power of information sharing goes a long way to increasing the return on information investments. Reviewing what you’ve already got, sharing and making it accessible to all, and then developing a library platform will all help increase its use whilst at the same time reducing the costs of market research and information gathering. So, what are you waiting for?

Have you developed your own system or library for information and insight sharing? If so please share your experiences and horror stories in the comments below. Everyone would love to know what some of the challenges may be for them when they follow your example. 

Need help in negotiating your information contracts or in building an information / insight Library? Why not call us to discuss just how much you could be saving and increase your information ROI. No obligation, just INSPIRATION!

If you would like to know more about knowledge sharing check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and

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The shocking truth about managing data: it’s simple!

There is so much talk about information and Big Data these days, every organisation is feeling swamped by the belief that they should be doing more with their data.

From gathering more, to analysing more, and developing more insights about their customers, they are also afraid that their competition is doing more. If this is your situation, then this post will provide the answers you need.

Organisations have always collected information about their customers; it’s nothing new. Whether this is through conducting market research studies, or simply from obtaining details when customers buy something, there is already a lot you can do today to manage your data. However, there is an even bigger opportunity to get a better underst anding of your customers and their needs and desires, when you integrate all the information sources you already have at your disposal. This is why there is so much news about Big Data these days. For all of you that have been shocked into inaction by all this talk, here are some simple ideas that you can use to start your own journey to managing your data, whether Big or Small:

 

#1. Make your information more visible

You are certainly already collecting a lot of data, both internal and external, but it is probably only the former that is shared today; sales, distribution, targets, budgets, plans and forecasts are the most common examples of this. How are all these numbers shared across your organisation? Why not develop a simple dashboard showing the most important numbers?

Using comparisons to competitors, indices and trends are generally the most useful way to provide a quick overview of business, into which viewers can then dig deeper, depending upon their area of interest. You don’t need to show it all on the dashboard, and you shouldn’t try, just keep the summary to the KPI’s that are most relevant for everyone to know.

For more on how to choose your KPI’s see here.

 

#2 Make your information more available

You already have many sources of information, but who has access to it? If you are like most companies, it is the department that collects the data that analyses and uses it, and other departments rarely know of its existence, let alone get to see it. Why not develop a library in which you can store all the information and insights that are gathered and developed, and then give everyone access to it?

This library can be as simple as a folder in a shared file, an Excel folder, an Access database, or a more sophisticated system that can manage budgets, projects and suppliers, as well as the storage of the processes and reports. Some organisations are afraid of doing this for fear of information getting into the h ands of their competitors, but access rights today are easy to manage so that you can significantly reduce such a risk.

You can find more information on knowledge sharing here.

 

#3. Make your information more actionable

Much of the information that companies gather is backward looking, coming from sales and distribution that have already happened or your customers’ consumption and usage habits of last week, last month or last year. Whenever you gather any sort of information, it is a good idea to review the description of your target audience for each br and, in order to ensure it is as complete and as deep as possible. This should not be a once a year exercise, at the time of plan writing, but a continuous process to stay in close contact with your customers’ desires and changing opinions and behavior.

You will almost certainly find that in today’s fast paced world, they have changed quite significantly in some areas. However, even if the current descriptions have not changed substantially, the review of your information should enable you to enrich it further for an even better underst anding. Additionally, in order to build insight and foresight the information you gather needs to be complemented by forward looking metrics such as trends and future scenarios. By looking at how your customers are adapting today, and hypothesizing on their future changes, your organisation will be better prepared for future opportunities and challenges, providing a real competitive advantage.

To learn more about developing your Vision & strategy check here.

 

#4. Make your information more readable

If you have gotten beyond the amount of data that is humanly possible to analyse, you need to consider building a database that can be analysed and modelled with the help of complex analytics. This is when information starts to become BigData and can result in a step-change in the insights an organisation can gain from it.

The sophisticated algorithms that can now be developed can make your information “speak” more clearly about your customer and become usable for many different purposes. You can try hypothesizing about your customers future behaviours, the likely success of your promotions or innovations by region or country, and then get near real-time answers to your questions about them. In some cases, you can even simulate market response to new ideas before they are even launched, in order to identify the best roll-out plan, or even to decide whether or not to launch in the first place.

If you yourself are at this tipping point, as descibed in Malcolm Gladwell’s book of the same name, and need support in developing your integrated marketing database, please contact us so we can share with you some of the successes our clients – your competitors? – have already had.

These are just a few ideas on how to make more and better use of the information you are already gathering. What made the biggest change for your own organisation in the use of the information and knowledge it gathers? Have you reached the tipping point to BigData yet? If you are proud of what you’ve done, why not share it with everyone here?

For more information on developing processes for the integration of information, the development of insights and the internal sharing of  knowledge, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

C3Centricity.com uses images from Dreamstime.com and Kozzi.com

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