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The importance of using an evidence-based approach to deliver commercial advantage

Olly Worsfold Director 30/06/2020

The time for Intelligence Capital™ is now – but are you prepared to change?

Only 14% of insight professionals from client-side organisations think that data and insight results in action based on evidence

Whilst lockdown may be easing, a lack of confidence across the nation is a key barrier to economic reconstruction. The main question on all business leaders’ minds is how to steer their organisation towards recovery.

Historically, many successful organisations – think Google, Apple and P&G – have fully embraced a culture of democratised access to research, insight and evidence. They understand the value of research application. However, recent findings imply that many organisations think differently and feel insight is commissioned as a means to an end, rather than embedded in a company’s culture, and used to drive strategy.

Savanta’s recent work alongside the Market Research Society (MRS) in the creation of Intelligence Capital™ has revealed that only 14% of insight professionals from client-side organisations think that 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 used as an indicator of how decisions should be made from the outset.

The majority (61%) believe that insight rarely feeds into strategy. Just a quarter (26%) think that insight is one of the most important inputs into the strategy of their organisation – a warning sign for companies who could benefit hugely from applying insight to early stage planning.

These results indicate that there is a need to place greater emphasis and focus on evidence-based decision making. Ensuring that decision making is driven by a culture of utilising evidence is clearly important (63% agree), but again evidence shows that just 39% agree that decision making within their own organisation utilises that evidence. Ensuring that the application of insights is part of everyday business is evidently a challenge, but it is one that can drive significant and long-lasting commercial advantage, especially under the current circumstances.

The fundamental challenge for many organisations is twofold:

  • Alignment of goals and a common understanding of where the organisation is heading is required in order to apply insight to strategy
  • Enabling all parts of the business to access a shared network of data and insights to inform decision making at every level

The current reality of sharing and utilising data at every level is bleak. More than half (57%) of client-side researchers say that conflict arises within their organisation when research findings conflict widely held views, a key reason why research findings are not shared more widely internally.

But doesn’t this provide a crucial opportunity for change?

Organisations who are internally aligned will enable colleagues to feel empowered by providing them with holistic and up to-date information on their customers, industry and competitors. Crucially this would also facilitate a shared understanding of what data is telling them as a business, as opposed to just individuals.

The research community and those providers of insight may feel aggrieved by these stats, especially when 98% of client-side researchers agree that business decisions should be based on a culture of using evidence. However, only 12% said that they check up on how research has benefited their organisation on a regular basis. So, what better time for both insight leads within organisations and their research agency partners to challenge their relationships with key stakeholders, and immerse themselves within an organisation’s culture, to become a trusted advisor and ultimately help influence and drive strategy in the most effective way?

It is time for organisations to recognise that decisions that are made without supporting research findings is dangerous guesswork. Building a culture of insight and striving to consistently make better decisions across all functions and markets is fundamental to future success.

Over the next few months, and no doubt years, the question as to who will arise as the winners and losers post-lockdown may well be determined by those who embrace a culture of evidence-based decision making.

Intelligence CapitalTM was developed by the Market Research Society (MRS) supported by Savanta. It outlines the process and importance of moving to a more evidence-based decision-making process and framework.  Click here to access the report and understand how the Intelligence CapitalTM framework can help your organisation.

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