Do You Need a Customer Insights Center of Excellence?


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Over the past few months, following publication of my “Customer Insights Center of Excellence” report at Forrester (subscription required), there’s been a significant uptick in questions from insights and analytics teams who want to talk to us about CoEs. That’s a positive sign that firms are feeling the crunch to get more value from their insights functions. What’s driving these questions? What are marketing decision-makers saying about their insights-to-actions capabilities? And more importantly, what really matters in how you organize?

Before we dig in to answers, let’s set the bar on what “great” looks like in truly customer obsessed organizations: they use data for insights to improve customer experience that matters most to business outcomes. As my colleagues James McCormick, Brian Hopkins, and Ted Schadler write in their recent Forrester report, “The Insights-Driven Business” (subscription required), customer obsessed businesses act on insights in closed loops, at speed, and at scale in all parts of the firm. They embed analytics and testing directly into operating teams. And, firms who implement these approaches run faster and fleeter than you. The pressure is on from insights-driven organizations.

Below the level of “great,” firms struggle to generate meaningful insights and act on them at the speed their customers are moving at. Here’s what marketers, for example, are saying about that. Results of Forrester’s Global Business Technographic® Marketing Survey, 2016 show that 65% of marketing decision-makers gave a rating of “strong” to their customer intelligence / insights (CI) function. However, a significant number of marketers also strongly agree on two problems they see: the CI team takes too long to deliver insights (42%) and the insights delivered are not actionable (40%). Interestingly, 42% also strongly agree that organization silos negatively impact the quality of the insights.

So there we have it: firms seeking to embrace customer obsession to achieve better outcomes are looking at organization best practices and approaches. That’s a good thing, but big watch-out: moving boxes around on organization charts is never a solution on its own. Effective reorganization for driving business value from data and insights — at speed — requires “surround sound” that includes governance, program management, great communication strategy and execution – and a big dollop of persistence. That’s the holistic approach firms require for getting to “great” in using data for insights to actions that improve business outcomes, ASAP.Reminder: Please be sure to credit any images used in your post. Otherwise moderator may remove. –Editor

Cinny Little
Cinny serves Customer Insights professionals. She is a digital expert with 15 years' experience in the unusual combination of insight-based strategy and project execution, including customer insights and digital analytics, customer experience and journeys, digital marketing, sales enablement, and web/mobile/eCommerce. With both B2B and B2C experience on the client and agency sides, she has led global firms' digital transformation in healthcare, life sciences, financial services, eLearning, and event management.


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