Call It Magic, Call It True

One of the best parts of my job is being able to share an insight with a colleague or client. Seeing their reaction and excitement is magical.

There have been many occasions where someone asks, “What are the insights?” and the reply was, “Engagements are up 10%.” A great data point, but hardly an insight that will lead to actionable change in any organisation.

What are insights? Put simply, they are gained by analysing data to understand what is really going on. They can then be used to make better business decisions; tell an organisation what is going to happen within its industry; how to shift its budget; what new technology to invest in; what will change the way it does business. How to become disruptive.

In short, insights are valuable. They are that “aha!” moment that provides a clear future path.

Sounds great, right? Yes, a round of insights all around!

But wait. Let’s not ignore the problem. Many times, as in the example above, simple facts are misconstrued as insights, when really they don’t tell you anything. They’d hardly make you look up from your laptop, never mind make you shout, “Aha!”

Insights are difficult. Netflix recently challenged the world to help it improve its recommendation-engine accuracy by 10%. Only two teams among tens of thousands from over 180 countries competing for a $1 million prize were able to hit the goal.

At FleishmanHillard South Africa, we don’t only provide data on a page. Anyone can see that sentiment is negative and volumes are high. We can tell you why, and what that means for your business and what you should do next.

You may even think you’re operating based on a genuine insight, but a recent study showed that an overwhelming 96% of respondents believe that there is such a thing as bad personalisation, driven in part by brands making wrong assumptions about them due to out of date data.

In 2016, market research company Forrester reported that 74% of organisations said they want to be “data-driven”, but only 29% were actually successful at connecting analytics to action. What’s missing? Insights.

What we are experiencing is a missing link between data and business value. We live in a world where buzzwords such as big data, analytics, social listening and insights have put us under a spell, and we’ve forgotten how to turn information into real, tangible truths.

So how do you identify a real insight? There are no numbers and data points, although those are readily available if you want to see what underpinned the insight. Instead, sharing a genuine insight is like telling a story. If you have yet to read a report that unlocks exciting opportunities and wild possibilities in your mind, keep searching for that “aha” moment.

What happens when you reach an insight, you ask? Magic.

Ines Schumacher, Account Director