By Kieran South, Senior Vice President, IRI
In the current FMCG environment, brand manufacturers must find ways to become more agile. The industry has never had more data on its existing and potential customers yet translating this information to actionable insights has never been more difficult. Many insights teams are operating in a grey area that is slowing decision-making and the subsequent actions that are required to maximise performance. This makes growth both harder to find and harder to act on when it is uncovered.
I think it’s safe to say that many organisations are actually suffering from data paralysis, and insights teams are learning that simply having a substantial amount of data does not actually change the way the organization runs.
For organizations to fully leverage the insights they procure to enable faster and better decisions and actions, two changes need to happen. First, there must be a mindset change from the strategic insight and planning teams. Second, there needs to be a behavior change from the broader organization.
In working with several large CPG organizations, I’ve found there are often three key challenges to address internally – cultural, capabilities and process – in order to overcome data paralysis and slower decision making. Below are those challenges and some thoughts on how to overcome them.
Start by establishing a data-driven mindset for everyone and provide resources that allow them to be comfortable using insights as part of their daily work. Teams must be willing to make decisions, change their processes and adapt new behaviours based on data rather than intuition.
Does your company have the right tools and talent to be an insight-driven organisation? In such a challenging FMCG environment, most companies would be well advised on not just having a select group of employees who have been trained on analytics but instead cultivating a wide variety of people throughout the organisation who are capable of translating the data. The more people who are trained on insights and analytics, the more you can democratise both the understanding of the consumer throughout your organisation as well as what needs to happen next. It also helps ensure that everyone is moving in the same direction. What could be more important than your entire organisation thoroughly knowing your consumer?
Companies need to implement data-sharing processes that are easier and quicker. Instead of one team spending hours spreading the same content around, consider pushing the data out in multiple directions when it is available, giving it more viewpoints and access. When you get comfortable allowing the flow of data to go around the organisation and trust your partners to manage the data and deal with the questions themselves (rather than just one person or team), you can be both more efficient and transparent and also speed up decision making.
Of course, overcoming just these three challenges may not necessarily be enough to build an insight-driven organisation. Strong and effective leadership must be at the core. For a unified strategy across the entire organisation, leaders must be willing to spearhead the change and ensure focus and prioritisation. They need to articulate what matters and how it will make a significant and positive difference for the business.
None of this is easy to achieve or can happen in a day, a week or a month. But the prize is a significant one – a culture of out-performance, one that enables faster and better decisions and drives greater overall business impact. Reaching this pinnacle means a competitive advantage that benefits all the main players in any FMCG relationship: the manufacturer, the shopper and the retail partner. Win-win-win. And what could be better than that?
Want to learn more about how insights can help you, your team and your company outperform the competition? Contact me at Kieran.South@IRIworldwide.com