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An evidence-based approach can help you navigate through uncertainty

Olly Worsfold Director 16/06/2020

If the last few months have taught us one thing, it’s that we live in an uncertain world...

Simply saying “because we’ve always done it this way” is no longer good enough

Behaviour and opinions are changing at an unprecedented rate and there are many things that we may never do the same way again. Businesses must embrace the uncertainty and keep up with change by placing more emphasis on evidence-based decision making. Simply saying “because we’ve always done it this way” is no longer good enough.

Our industry, like every other around the globe, is facing an enormous challenge to its current way of working. Researchers in agencies and client-side, people who usually deal in facts, learnings and models, are rightly concerned about the future and the uncertainty it brings. However, there is hope that the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated contraction in research spend will be countered by a greater focus on evidence-based decision making.

We’re all familiar with the political backdrop against which the pandemic is playing out: the rise of populism, increasing suspicion of globalisation and a massive erosion of trust in experts. Over the last decade, opinions have become worth as much as facts and it is easy to discredit opponents by branding their analysis of historical and current events as ‘fake news’. Empirical evidence is straining to be heard over gut feel and empty rhetoric.

Recent months have revealed a different trend: we’re provided with regular updates of the latest statistics related to the pandemic and, at least on the surface, the Government consults with the most highly regarded experts. Every update delivered by medical experts and Government press briefings potentially promises the birth of truly evidence-based policy making – the Holy Grail for anyone with a passion for public policy – even if that is rarely realised.

The private sector could learn from this: a recent survey of senior client-side researchers conducted by Savanta and the Market Research Society (MRS) revealed that only 14% think data and insight results in action based on evidence. At the same time, a third 34% think research in their organisation is closer to a rubber stamp for approving existing actions than an indicator of how decisions should be made.

Whilst this might be considered a missed opportunity in the times of economic growth, it could be fatal as we enter a recession that looks likely to be the deepest in living memory. Like the governments of the world, businesses cannot continue to ignore the benefits of research and evidence in favour of gut feel and heuristics.

Successfully navigating the challenges ahead will depend upon the ability of an organisation to gather, circulate, interpret and act upon a diverse range of insights and data sources. As customer behaviours and opinions continually shift towards a ‘new normal’, those who have built a culture of insight will have a competitive advantage over those still acting on out-dated ideas and assumptions.

The process of moving to a more evidence-based decision making process is a crucial part of the Intelligence Capital™ framework. It’s also one that will shoot to the top of the to do list for organisations that are determined to overcome the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, by adjusting to the ‘new normal’ quicker than the competition.

Click here to access the report and understand how the Intelligence Capital™ framework can help your organisation.

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